Sonic X-treme: Wikis


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Sonic X-treme
Sonic X-treme Coverart.png
Conceptual box art of Sonic X-treme.
Developer(s) Sega Technical Institute
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Chris Senn (director)
Ofer Alon (programmer)
Hirokazu Yasuhara (head designer)
Engine modified NiGHTS engine, later changed to a fish-eye propietary engine.
Platform(s) Sega Saturn
Release date(s) Cancelled in 1997
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single player
Media CD-ROM
Input methods Control pad

Sonic X-treme is a shelved platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was originally developed by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis but was moved to the Sega 32X and eventually to the Sega Saturn and intended to be released around Halloween of 1996, but after many problems and a long hiatus of development hell, it was finally cancelled in 1997. Had it been finished, it would have been the first fully 3D Sonic game and the first original Sonic title developed for the Sega Saturn. Because the game was cancelled, Sega released a port of Sonic 3D Blast for the Saturn in 1996.



The storyline involved Professor Gazebo Boobowski and his daughter, Tiara, who are the guardians of the six magical Rings of Order, as well as the ancient art of Ring smithing. Gazebo and Tiara fear that Dr. Robotnik is after the six Rings of Order, and call on Sonic to get the Rings before Robotnik can.

As of October 2007, artwork of Tiara and her father have been released by the game's director Chris Senn along with various other details based on the game.


Jade Gully Zone.

To further the traditional Sonic "go-anywhere-or-run-through" formula, every level was designed in a tube-like fashion; Sonic would be able to walk onto walls, thus changing the direction of gravity and the rotation of the level itself, much like the special stages in Knuckles' Chaotix. In addition, an unusual, fish-eye lens-styled camera was put into place so players could see more of their surroundings at any given time.

It is now known that at one point in the development process, there was a possibility for 4 playable characters. [1] The characters planned were Knuckles the Echidna, Tiara Boobowski, Miles "Tails" Prower and Sonic the Hedgehog. Each character would also have had a unique gameplay style. Knuckles and Tiara would have had traditional-style play, having top-down and side-scrolling views respectively. Sonic had the fish-eye style levels, and Tails would play in first person flight mode. Tiara has the Ice Blade to fight her enemies. Sonic himself was to be equipped with a large set of new moves, including a "spin slash", a ring throwing ability, and a downward dash.

There were six planned Zones: Jade Gully (as pictured above), Crystal Frost, Red Sands, Blue Ocean, Metal Blade and Galaxy Fortress. If the player retrieved all six Rings the game is centered around, he or she will proceed to the Death Egg, And rather than being a Death Star styled level, it was a level about the size of a small moon of Platforms, lifts, conveyor belts, switches and enemys. Due to the game being cancelled, that is the only information that can be retrieved from leaked footage.

Other characters intended to be included in the game were Nack the Weasel and Metal Sonic, who would have been bosses in the final game and whose design and programming was actually finished by the time Sonic X-treme was canceled.

Development history

Sonic X-treme was originally intended to be developed for several other game consoles prior to the Sega Saturn. In its earliest conception, the game was set to be released on the Sega Genesis and later on the 32X, under the name Sonic Mars (based on the codename for the 32X, Sega Mars). Sonic Mars would also have featured Sally Acorn and the other Freedom Fighters from the Saturday morning animated series, Sonic the Hedgehog.[2] Part of the project staff included Chris Senn, who designed demo animations in order to persuade executives, and Michael Kosaka, who was the staff leader and the game's producer.

However, that project was eventually shifted: it was decided that the game would require much more powerful hardware to cope with the new engine, and for commercial reasons, Kosaka's departure from Sega and the eventual commercial failure of the 32X, the release of a Sonic game on the upcoming Sega Saturn console was necessary.

The game was being developed by Sega Technical Institute (STI), a U.S.-based developer that had worked on games such as Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic Spinball, The Ooze and Comix Zone.

The game concept was an extension of the previous Sonic games, as a platformer. The game itself was initially developed separately by two teams in parallel. The first team was in charge of developing the main game engine. The levels themselves were developed in a tubular mode, allowing level rotation and gravity directions, and as result, moved around Sonic. The fish-eye lens camera view, developed by programmer Ofer Alon, gave the game a distinctive spherical appearance. Game designer Chris Coffin was hired by Sega and tasked with creating the separate "boss level" portions of the game that was suggested to use a different viewpoint from the main game. Alon and Chris Senn continued their work on the main game in parallel with Coffin's Sonic X-treme boss engine. Coffin developed all "boss engine" work on the Sonic Mars hardware prototype initially before it was decided that Sega needed to make a Sonic game for the Sega Saturn.

For the boss level engine, several modes such as top-down and side scrolling views were prototyped to create a more interesting view of the boss battle areas while still using the prerendered Sonic sprite assets used in the main game engine developed by Ofer. Ofer continued developing the main game editor tools and engine code on Mac and Windows. Development picked up again and it seemed the game's deadline for release would be met after all. From a code standpoint the boss engine and main game were basically two games developing at the same time that shared some global memory to remember game state and use a process called executable chaining to switch from the main game to boss levels and back. The boss level engine began to evolve into a game of its own using this new source of inspiration, trying to stay closer to its 2D roots by adopting a 3D but side-scrolling viewpoint. The new boss engine gameplay prototype adopted a more pastel color scheme and organic flow of the inspirational NiGHTS game causing some divided opinions among team members that felt originality was being sacrificed.

In March 1996, Sega of Japan representatives went over to Sega Technical Institute's headquarters to verify the game's progress. They were unimpressed at the progress made on the main game engine, which was actually based on an old version of the main game's engine. The then-most recent build of the game, was never shown to the representatives, since they left STI before they were allowed to watch that version, but were impressed by the boss engine they requested the entire game be reworked on that engine instead.

Some time after, Alon was taken off the project, and Senn left with him, leaving Coffin's team as the only one resuming development on the game. Producer Mike Wallis took one step further and put the team together to work in isolation and away from the company's politics, so that they can be able to finish the game before the 1996 Christmas deadline. The team practically moved into the company's office and worked sixteen hours a day.

The boss engine never used the NiGHTS engine, never saw any code, tools or assistance from Sonic Team. Even one of AM1's own arcade teams from Japan that was transplanted to the offices of STI and developed Dynamite Deka (known as Die Hard Arcade) was not privileged with any such knowledge or special support. A few months into Coffin's involvement in Sonic X-treme, the studio director showed Coffin a playable pre-release level of NiGHTS. Coffin fell in love with the game's look and feel of NiGHTS for Sonic X-treme's boss levels. In April, 1996, requesting a petition from the studio director, the then newcomer Sega of America CEO Bernie Stolar managed to deliver the NiGHTS out of necessity of getting the tools that the team did not have the time to develop. However, this was not consulted to NiGHTS main developer, Yuji Naka, himself threatened to quit Sega several months later because he assumed the Sonic X-treme team had been given access to his game's source code and art. As a result, the code was never used, and the team lost two weeks of work.

In respect to Alon and Senn, and according to Senn, STI management viewed Alon as a maverick who did not follow company politics and did little to direct the other programmers. Point of View was recruited to continue technical development of the game. In an attempt to demonstrate to Alon and Senn the reason for the drastic action, technical director Robert Morgan showed them a demo created by Point of View. Senn recalled,

They showed us the Sonic sprite we were already using floating in the upper-right of the screen, a checkerboard ground, a rotating shaded polygonal shape floating in the air and maybe a ring sprite animating. For all that we had created, to throw all that away for such nonsense. Amazing.

Undeterred by having their work rejected, Alon and Senn, after leaving the project, continued developing their version of Sonic X-treme as a PC game. However, it was eventually rejected, and it prompted Alon to leave Sega.

By then, the team was running short on manpower, and as Point of View had not gotten much farther than its initial demo, the project all had fallen on the Sonic Xtreme Project Team to finish it up before the Christmas deadline. Coffin, who had been overworking non-stop to get this project out, came down with pneumonia. Since Coffin was leading the technology end and creating the engine, the loss caused the project to be indefinitely delayed and the studio director informed management that the team could not continue and the game would not be released in time for Christmas. The project was officially cancelled. Sega of America decided to discontinue the game and switched to an alternative project: Sonic 3D Blast.[3]


The Sonic X-treme debacle has long been touted as a reason for the ultimate failure of the Saturn in the West. With Sony and Nintendo both having flagship 3D platformers (Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 64) available, Sega was widely expected to follow suit and thrust Sonic into the 3D arena. When news broke that Sonic X-treme had been pulled from the schedules and replaced with a conversion of a 16-bit game, it only served to confirm the by-then prevailing view that the Saturn no longer represented serious competition for its rivals. The Saturn never did receive a Sonic platform game of its own, Sonic 3D Blast being followed by Sonic Jam, a compilation of the 2D Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic titles and Sonic R, a racing game. Sonic's debut in a full 3D platform game was the release of Sonic Adventure during the launch of the Dreamcast in 1998.

Present day

The leaked test engine.

A disc of a test engine of X-treme exists. A copy was sold at auction to an anonymous collector in September 2005, and a high-quality gameplay video was expected to be released by the end of the year. An animated GIF image of the gameplay was released to the community. The disk image was finally leaked in July 17, 2007.

In early January 2006, the game's director, Chris Senn, opened a forum based on the game on his own message board, and began revealing large amounts of the game's development history to the public, including videos of early attempts, a playable character named Tiara, concept art of Tiara, and more. Furthermore, he posted a large amount of previously unreleased concept music related to the title, and was given permission by Hirokazu Yasuhara (the level designer for the majority of the original 16-bit Sonic titles, including the original) to post level designs that were going to be put in the game. Most of this information is to be posted on the Sonic X-treme Compendium web site (SXC), which officially went online April 5, 2006

The later X-treme with a proprietary engine used a fish-eyed lens view for Sonic's levels. A number of internet hacks have been made, allowing the game to be downloaded off the internet.

On 12-05-09 the official textures were leaked on a website by hxc. [4] .

External links


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