hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

What could have been: Sonic X-treme

3:22 PM on 11.19.2008 // Ashley Davis

It is widely believed that the downfall of Sonic the Hedgehog and the company who he represents began when his games made the shift from 2D to 3D. As his remaining fans cautiously poke at Sonic Unleashed and groan about Black Knight giving Sonic a sword, we may wonder: where would the little blue wonder be today if Adventure had not been the game to take up the torch after the 16-bit era and lead him down the path to ruin?

Had history occurred a little differently, that may not have been the case. There was a chance for another game to usher Sonic into the new era of video games, one that may have better represented what a 3D Sonic game should be. This game was a canceled title called Sonic X-treme, which had gameplay that looks as if it could have been a source of inspiration for Super Mario Galaxy. But what really makes X-treme special is that, regardless of its horrible 90s-centric name and how strange it looks, it could have been more of a Sonic game than anything we've seen recently could ever hope to be.

Continue reading to find out more about this piece of gaming history that never was.

What began as a game based on the ABC Saturday morning cartoon for the Genesis somehow ended up as the strange-looking title for the Saturn that you see here. Through all its changes, it was developed by Sega Technical Institute, the American team who were also responsible for the Genesis classics Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Comix Zone. Sonic X-treme was undoubtedly in good hands, but it suffered so many push backs and rejected ideas that its story ended tragically. The game was never completed, and all of the years of hard work put into the game were ultimately a waste of the developer's time. The cancellation of Sonic X-treme also led to the breakup of STI, who were tired of constantly working themselves to the point of physical sickness on a game that went nowhere.

Sonic X-treme was supposed to be the hedgehog's very first foray into a three-dimensional world, and judging by what's left of the project today, it looked to be a very promising offer. Thanks to X-treme's lead designer, Chris Senn, the game did not completely fall into obscurity. He has since uploaded all of his work to the Internet, including videos of the game in motion so that we may see what could have been.

In its later builds, the game had Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and a new character named Tiara as playable characters. They would all play slightly differently, but Sonic's stages were the only ones that have ever been seen in motion. Regardless of all the problems that STI faced during development, what they ended up with for Sonic's stages actually look pretty amazing.

While the third act boss levels were more traditional 3D romps, all of Sonic's non-boss levels were spherical and completely traversable. There was a fixed center of gravity in the center of the world, allowing the player to run up walls and rotate the playing field as he or she needed. The game featured a fish-eye lens camera to aid the player in seeing more of the round world that Sonic was traversing at once.

Unlike Mario Galaxy, the levels were designed in a way that no matter where you jumped, there would have always been land beneath your hedgehog. While the game looks as if it might have been a bit difficult to play, the idea of not being able to die by accidentally flinging yourself off the edge of the world or not taking a loop exactly right seems like a really good one by the point we are at today.

Regardless of whatever flaws it may have had in play, you have to admit that X-treme looks more like a Sonic title than anything Sonic Team has offered us in the past couple of years. Instead of blazing through everything at top speed, you have to stop quite often to take on some good old-fashioned platforming. Many of the comments for the videos that showcase X-treme's gameplay are along the lines of, "Sonic is too slow in this game." It's been said a million times, but I'll say it again: Sonic was never entirely about speed. Sure, he can run fast, but whether it was a group of rotating blocks, water, or floating platforms, there were always numerous obstacles around to slow the hedgehog down in the old days. When watching X-treme in action, I actually flash back to the Genesis games that I spent my childhood playing. Nothing since Sonic Adventure has made me feel that way, and it's very sad that the one game that could have changed it all never saw the light of day. Don't get me wrong, I liked Adventure, but only liked. I loved the old Sonic games.

While the past is past, it is still interesting to imagine how Sonic's history may have been changed if things had happened the way that they could have. If Sonic X-treme was a game that did make it to release, would Sega Technical Institute have continued to flourish and give us more of the same? Would it have still been passed over for games made by Sonic Team, like Sonic Adventure? Or would future 3D Sonic games have taken a page out of X-treme’s book and offered classic hedgehog platforming with a slight twist?

Though we can only speculate what impact the game could have had back in 1997, we may see a completed version of the game one day. Senn has toyed around with the idea of finishing a PC version of X-treme for years, and he and his team are currently working on a fangame dubbed Project-S that borrows heavily from all his unused work. Perhaps someday soon we will see these old-yet-new ideas in a playable form.

You can check out every scrap of Senn's archived work on the game here.

Ashley Davis,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Jealous of all my brethren at PAX Prime. Sad I will miss out on the drinking, orgies and catching the PAX flew. This time next year though, I'll be there! I promise!
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Forgot to mention that I celebrated completing Persona 4: Golden by binging on a bunch of totally in-canon doujins. Including, but not limited to, Yu on genderswap't Yosuke. [img][/img]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
If you love Splatoon and Transformers you may want to check today. Let's just say the shirts are... Splatfest themed. [img][/img]
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
BREAKING: Dtoid is at the IGN Lara Croft Go party. You can hold live snakes because why the fuck not, but one snake is missing...
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
someone help i think i'm writing what is going to be my longest blog yet
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[url=""]Interview with Yacht Club Games that miiiight basically confirm Shovel Knight isn't getting a Nintendo boss/level?[/url]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Spent most of my day going back and playing Assassin's Creed: Unity. I really quite enjoyed it. It's a good game.
Bardley avatarBardley
Reserved my copy of The Phantom Pain today and my car died on the way back home. Thanks Konami. On the plus side, I got to ride in a tow truck to the auto shop. Felt like an elementary school field trip or something for a few minutes.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! Get a free Stealth Inc. 2 maybe? I dunno. Just signal boosting for no particular reason. Maybe 'cause I got a free game? Least I could do.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I gotta to admit: it feels nice to be able to play a Pokemon game without thinking to myself "oh shit, I got to fill up my Pokedex". It's nice. Oh yeah, and for the record, I'm playing through Soul Silver.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I enter the Gamestop. I set a Toad plushie atop a Yoshi plushie. I set Mario to go down on Kirby. I leave the Gamestop.
gajknight avatargajknight
Niero, just killed a man, Put my dick inside his head, cummed my load and now he's dead. Niero, we had just begun, But now I've gone and thrown it all awayyyyyy. Nierooooooo, ooooooooh.
guitarvillain avatarguitarvillain
That thought sends shivers down my spine.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Lacking recording/social features aside (I actually do love that aspect of the PS4), I've been really enjoying my Xbone. Sunset Overdrive is like Saints Row meets Tony Hawk and lovingly self-aware.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wait, wasn't that Pokemon Detective Pikachu game supposed to come out this year?
sakesushi avatarsakesushi
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! They're doing it wrong though, putting up [url=""]Stealth Inc. 2 for free[/url]
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Just cleared out a whole village fultoning every single guard. I AM BIG BOSS.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Metal Gear Solid - Marriage - Revengeance [youtube][/youtube]
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Divinity: Original Sin 2 stretch goal lets you be a spooky skeleton. This is what I have dreamed of.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Going on the record saying a Borderlands movie is a terrible idea.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -