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Accelerated Evolution

Sonic X-Treme

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This may be one of those holy grail collecting moments. The only playable version of Sonic X-treme known to exist. You can read about the game this was supposed to turn into if you want the whole story on the Saturn game and why it was canned. It's a pretty interesting read if you're a Saturn fan or just want a little dose of gaming history.



Once upon a time, in an age not so strange to many of us, the fortunes of mighty empires revolved around blue anthropomorphic animals, Italian plumbers, and purple dragons. The era of the video game mascot is not so long gone, though it is easy to read the signs of its demise with just one glance at the industry: there was no Mario game when Nintendo’s latest console launched; Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot have homes on the Gamecube these days; the Xbox’s arguable mascot, Master Chief, has appeared on the PC; and Sonic The Hedgehog no longer has a console to call home. In 2003, these are not huge problems, but in 1996, after a decade ruled by Nintendo, who introduced the idea of a mascot with Mario, being without a mascot was like being without an identity. Quick, name the mascot of the 3DO. How about the CD-i? Drawing a blank? Understandably so, and this point was not lost on Sega, who had made the disastrous mistake of springing a surprise Saturn launch in 1995. They knew they were facing an uphill battle against the more powerful, upstart Playstation, and the Nintendo 64, which would launch during the 1996 holiday season. Sega eventually found a surrogate mascot for the Saturn in NiGHTS, but our focus is on the game that never was featuring the mascot that made the Genesis a hit: Sonic X-Treme.

Sonic X-Treme was announced in May, 1996, at E3, where a playable demo and video were available. The game was initially slated for a Christmas 1996, not coincidentally the same time as the N64 launch. The scene at E3 seemed straightforward enough, but what gamers didn’t know was that the game was being rushed to completion on a compressed development timeline, a fateful decision that would eventually doom the entire project.

It's nearly impossible to look back on the fate of Sonic X-Treme without also going over the ignominious fate of Sega of America (SoA), the mismanagement of said branch, and the fiasco that the Saturn, while an excellent piece of hardware, turned out to be.

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