Loads of games get cancelled without us even knowing they existed. However, when it comes to Sega, there are loads of games that we know for a fact were definitely happening, but somehow fell a few hurdles from home.
Some got made into different, better games. Others appeared on the net for anyone to play. But some just got put on a shelf, apparently just to make Sega fans cry. Its the only explanation. So here are the greatest unreleased Sega games. Tissues at the ready
Vitua Fighter 3 (Saturn)
Virtua Fighter 3TB was a Dreamcast launch game, which was stunning at the time. In fact, probably pinpointing the exact moment arcades became obsolete, as you could play the very latest, cutting-edge arcade games in your own living room. But there was a Saturn version. It was always on the cards and Sega kept talking it up as the Saturn's final hurrah. But it never emerged.
Did it ever exist? Saturn could barely run two characters and a stage floor, let alone full 3D environments like those in VF3. The Model 3 board allowed for slanting and uneven floors, walls that opened up context-sensitive throws and water you could step in. Not to mention shiny trousers. Saturn might have been able to manage shiny trousers and no man. With half a floor. I personally don't believe it ever existed in a playable state on Saturn. Not unless someone stuck a Saturn sticker on a Dreamcast dev kit for a laugh.
Sonic Crackers (Genesis/Mega Drive)
Back when I was at college, an unfinished Sonic game appeared on the internet: Sonic Crackers. It was a Mega Drive ROM, apparently a prototype for the tethered characters gameplay of Knuckles Chaotix on 32X. It featured Sonic and Tails joined together by a forcefield as they traversed some metallic, circuit-boardy environments. The resident IT nerd hacked the college network so I could see it running. Guess what? It looked like a Sonic game. I was totally unprepared for that, let me tell you.
It was buggy and unfinished, but it was nonetheless a genuine Sonic game from the golden age of 16-bit Sonic. And that makes it worth a look. Considering the very next game on our list caused a costly delay for ol Bluey, Sonic Crackers might have kept Sonics inertia going a little better through that mid-1990s drought, had it been released as a Mega Drive title. Maybe if it came out at Christmas. It could have been a Christmas cr (snip!)
Sonic X-Treme (Saturn/PC)
Well, we all know about this one. The very definition of Development Hell, what should have been Sonics triumphant leap onto the then-next-generation Sega Saturn turned out to be cancelled mess. Shown off at E3 in 1995, journalists at the time thought it looked bad, but as we know the versions shown were rarely representative of what was actually being made.
Still, I maintain Sonic Lost World borrows the best elements of the Sonic X-Treme gameplay, even if Sonic Team itself flatly denies it. Mario Galaxy used the exact same ideas to incredible effect on Wii, further proving Segas most ill-fated ideas were always great ideas... just a few years too soon for the hardware to deliver.
Propeller Arena (Dreamcast)
Now this is a real shame. Segas AM#2 division doesnt make many games these days. In fact, if you go back through its gameography, besides Virtua Fighter games and OutRun 2, the last big original game the team made was Propeller Arena, directed by Yu Suzuki himself.
It was arcadey. It was online-enabled via DreamArena. It was finished and ready to be released. It was due to come out in September 2001 (yep) and features planes flying in dangerous proximity to skyscrapers. Obviously with 9/11 all over the news, the game was delayed. But because DC was pretty much over by then anyway, it was cancelled altogether. The game did get leaked onto the net, so its possible (though legally dodgy) to download a copy, burn it to a disc and play it on a real Dreamcast but still. This should have been one of Dreamcasts finest hours.
Streets of Rage 3D remake (Xbox 360/PS3)
Some members of Ruffian Games (of Crackdown 2 'fame') were working on a 3D Streets of Rage game for Sega, intended for digital distribution. The series has been on hiatus since Streets of Rage 3 in 1994, and although there have been games that started out as SoR 3D (like Die Hard Arcade) or tried to emulate it (Fighting Force), we simply havent had the 3D Streets of Rage game that everyone has expected since 1995.
This prototype never got turned into a full game, which is a shame. Sure, it looks generic in this video, but it wasnt anywhere near finished. A 3D SoR on modern consoles could be brilliant. Ah well. One day. Perhaps.
Sonic the Hedgehog prototype demo
What's that? Sonic the Hedgehog was released? Stop clutching at gallery-filling straws? Well, I say nonsense to that. You see, these are the only known images of the 1990 prototype version of Sonic The Hedgehog shown at a Japanese toy show, as explained to me in person by Yuji Naka himself. Well, this totally counts as an unreleased game.
The reason is simple: As I explained in 2011, Yuji Naka wanted to include the prototype as a playable bonus in Sonic Mega Collection. But he couldn't find it because it's 'lost' (I say stolen), so it couldn't be released as per his intention. Therefore, it is an unreleased Sega game. There, bet you didn't think I'd be able to justify that one, eh? Anyway, it's so rare and so early, it even contains pre-badnik enemies, as these recently-unveiled screens from a contemporaneous Japanese gaming mag show. This is a massive piece of gaming history and one that I long to see for real.
Scud Race (Saturn, Dreamcast)
Scud Race is a pseudo-sequel to Daytona USA, although actual Daytona 2 came along and orphaned it completely. Originally slated for an appearance on Saturn, development of the home port moved to Dreamcast. Indeed, when Dreamcast was first announced, there was a Scud race demo shown behind closed doors (and apparently sections of the game are built into Dreamcast development kits as tech examples), from which some grainy stills are shown above.
Scud Race was one of the first arcade games to use Sega's arcade Model 3 board. So the fact that a home console could run a Model 3 game was pretty special. But then the BPR Global GT Series that the game's cars are based on was ceased a year after the arcade version came out, which might have caused license problems. After all, it was only the tracks that made a cameo appearance in the Xbox version of OutRun 2. Either way, we never received a home port. Personally, I've only ever played real Scud Race once because the arcade machine is so rare. That's not right, is it? I mean, look! It's right there!
Toejam & Earl 3 (Dreamcast)
We may well have had a Toejam & Earl: Mission to Earth on the original Xbox, but I made the mistake of buying that and only ever played it once, which I think says a lot. And yet, only a few months ago, a beta version of Toejam & Earl for Dreamcast emerged online. A different game, almost complete... and coded for Dreamcast.
Yet another casualty of Dreamcast's untimely demise, it's sad to see something so endearing left incomplete and abandoned. The game may not look amazing, but it does seem to capture the essence of the original Toejam & Earl - something that certainly cannot be said for the Xbox game. I vote Toejam & Earl should come back. Anyone else miss them? Nobody? Not even if I said 'You jammin' Earl'? Or 'BOOM BOOM CLAP! BOOM B'BOOM CLAP!" No? Oh OK, let's move on...
Shenmue (Saturn version)
The game that began life as a Virtua Fighter RPG starring Akira Yuki from the 3D beat-em-up turned out to be one of the most bittersweet titles in Dreamcasts library. But did you know about the cancelled Saturn version? A video that unlocks upon completing Shenmue II depicts scenes from Shenmues I & II, obviously running on the 32-bit hardware. And you know what? Scenes from both the released Dreamcast games are shown in it.
Sure, there are ugly debug messages on the screen because it was never polished for release, but were talking about a huge chunk of a giant of the 128-bit generation running on the previous generation. ZOMG. Who cares if its unfinished? It looks amazing. I want to play it.
And the rest...
Many amazing non-Sega games were scheduled to come to Sega machines but never made it. Not least Tomb Raider 2 (technical problems, my bottom), Resident Evil 2 and Formula One on Saturn. Even Microprose's Formula One Grand Prix was mentioned at one point, unless I've gone completely mad. It is possible. Flibble.
And obviously there's Shenmue 3, cruelly teased recently on the back of a Ryo Hazuki-driven OutRun sit-down arcade machine with a SHEN3 number plate. Not cool, Sega. Not cool. Unless you're really in the process of making it, in which case VERY COOL, SEGA. VERY COOL.
Can you name any more?
I've probably forgotten a major one, like Sonic Beach Volleyball or Robotnik's Moustache Tactics. If that's the case, let me know in the comments. Or just tell me which cancelled Sega game you wish for the most. It's OK - you're among friends.
And if you're looking for more, check out Where have all the arcade racers gone? and Atlus' freedom to revive any classic Sega game is exactly what both parties need.