I recently engaged in a quest to try to try to find the answer to an important question: what is the most obscure Sonic game of all time? In trying to answer that question, I prepared a YouTube video that discusses cancelled games, mobile games but also discusses a game from 1991 that very little is known about. In fact, I was able to showcase footage from one particularly obscure Sonic game that I don’t believe had been uploaded anywhere online until my video went live. (Note: I've timestamped the video below so that you'll be taken right to discussion of the aforementioned obscure game from 1991. It should start at 3:40, just in case it doesn't)
Let’s talk about ‘Game 2’, one of the most obscure Sonic the Hedgehog games of all time.
Doing so involves me introducing you to the SEGA TeraDrive. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the SEGA CD and the 32X, well, this baby is a rarely talked about misadventure from 1991. The Japanese-exclusive TeraDrive was the result of a partnership between SEGA and IBM to create a device that doubled as a personal computer and a SEGA MegaDrive. The system was in limited supply. Those in-the-know suggest that anywhere from 500-1000 were made in total, but this is just an estimate. It’s worth noting that the UK market had an Amstrad Mega PC, which was a 386 machine with a Mega Drive "tacked on", with a switch between the two. There's a common misconception that this is related to the TeraDrive, but the TeraDrive actually allows both systems to interact with each other.
Anyway, the TeraDrive had one game in it’s library that utilised both the computer and the MegaDrive part of the TeraDrive’s hardware and that game was Puzzle Construction.
Puzzle Construction is far rarer than the TeraDrive itself and was originally distributed on 2 floppy disks. Not only is the game rare but so far it is not able to be emulated, though the TeraDrive BIOS were dumped recently, so hopefully this will assist the emulation community in making emulation a reality.
There isn’t a huge amount of info about Puzzle Construction online, but it seems like a top-down puzzle game in the same vein as Tetris or Columns. It featured a level editor, utilising the PC hardware, while playing the actual game used the MegaDrive. Puzzle Construction contains several different 'games', with 'Game 1', for example, being outer-space themed.
“So, what is so ‘Soniccy’ about all of this?” I hear you say. Well, for starters the menus feature some cool little bits of Sonic art, but also one of the games that can be played, 'Game 2', is a Sonic-themed puzzle game.
This is actually a bigger deal than it sounds. In the game you have to match up rows of blue Sonics, red Sonics and yellow Sonics together to make them disappear, ala Columns. Sound familiar? Although it plays very differently, it’s visually similar to the infamous cancelled arcade game SegaSonic Bros, which also features the different coloured Sonics. Any lovers of that game will be happy to hear that Sonic’s siblings made it onto home consoles in 1991, a year before their failed arcade adventure, making them canon? Maybe? Who knows. There isn’t much more to say about ‘Puzzle Construction’ than that, but it’s a really neat find for sure. These multi-coloured Sonics spanned two different games and pre-date the creation of Tails. In an alternate universe, these guys might have formed the direction SEGA took the Sonic franchise.
Puzzle Construction 'Game 2'
SegaSonic Bros. Arcade Game:
SegaSonic Bros plays in a very convoluted fashion, you have to create a perimeter, kind of like in Hexic, to get rid of the coloured Sonics. This ‘Puzzle Construction’ formula is a lot more simple, where you simply have to line up similarly coloured Sonics. I don’t know if ‘Puzzle Construction’ can technically be counted as a Sonic game, but if it can it’s gotta be one of the more obscure out there. Any screenshots and video clips that I used in my video were grabbed from armadillo (Twitter: https://twitter.com/armadylo1). His channel has recently uploaded some more raw gameplay footage if you want to see more of the game. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChShOuOYWRtj1q0PiKzePqQ)
A final note on the TeraDrive: a ROM was created with the intention of played in Japanese game-stores to advertise the TeraDrive. The ROM was specifically meant to showcase the rotational capabilities of the TeraDrive and it features Madonna, a scrapped-character who appears in early Sonic the Hedgehog artwork. A Japanese user updated some footage a year ago:
And there we have it. Thanks for reading and/or watching! I'm always excited to read some news about an obscure Sonic relic from the past and I'm even more delighted to actually share some footage of an obscure Sonic relic from the past. Whether it can be counted as Sonic's most obscure game is still to be decided.