This game has a development article
|This game was never completed and/or given a public release.|
As a result of this, keep in mind that the developers might have used or deleted some of the content featured here, had the game actually been released.
Sonic X-treme was intended to be the first 3D Sonic title, developed from concepts stretching back to the 32X era, but ran into a myriad of development problems and was eventually scrapped, with a Saturn port of Sonic 3D Blast being released instead. The cancellation of X-treme is widely considered a large reason for the Saturn's commercial failure outside Japan (Sonic wasn't as popular in his home country at the time, so the lack of a 3D Sonic game wasn't a big concern there).
A disc containing an early Saturn tech demo was discovered in 2005 and released to the public on July 17, 2007. In 2014, ASSEMblergames user Jollyroger found a set of data discs that belonged to the Point of View studio, which included early PC builds of Sonic X-treme, level editors, and an unseen prototype made by Point of View dated July 14, 1996. The PC builds only supported Windows 95 and the Nvidia NV1 video card, so Jollyroger modified the builds to render in OpenGL for better compatibility.
Sonic X-treme (Saturn and PC) Development Timeline
This can be considered a placeholder for the eventual full documentation of Sonic X-treme as a whole, I do not wish for my efforts to go to waste.
- Autumn - Chris Senn becomes lead designer of Sonic 32x and changes direction of the project to be on the Saturn and the project gets renamed to Sonic X-treme. The team at the time had 9 artists/animators, 4 programmers, 3 designers, 1 composer, and an executive producer.
- November? - One of the new programmers added to the team at the time (Ofer Alon) decides to work from home on the PC version of Sonic X-treme which would result in the v001 build. He would have to port code of his engine over to Saturn which he was not familiar with developing on a game console. When ported to the Saturn, the engine ran at a terrible performance (3 frames per second).
- November-December - The Sonic X-treme development team would split into two groups, with Group A (Chris Senn and Ofer Alon) working on the main portion on the game, and Group B (Christina Coffin and the rest of the team members) would work on the boss levels and assets.
- December - The game would have 8 different storylines planned with one ultimately being chosen and used in the marketing for the game. X-treme also now had a deadline of Christmas 1996.
- January - Chris Senn would become ill but he would push through it and continue to get work done. Attempts would also be made to port Alon's Sonic X-treme engine over to the Saturn which the results were disasterous. Around this time Robert Morgan who was the programming director of the team, took the game engine to an external programming house known as Point of View Inc. They were brought on board to help due to them knowing a lot about the Saturn hardware, however the game still wasn't at the FPS level the team desired. A meeting in March, 1996 from a team of Sega management was also planned and they would decide the fate of Sonic X-treme. Around this time, the team also got news that POV would be assuming all major programming duties which meant Alon Ofer was effectively getting demoted and removed from the project. POV's work for the next few months would be them trying to port an older, more stable version of Alon's game engine for the Saturn. Alon was not done though as he and Chris Senn would continue to work on the PC version of Sonic X-treme hoping to release as a new Sonic title for PC which the named was referred to (Sonic PC) and it would be published by SegaSoft.
- March - It was now time for the meeting with Sega's management team consisting of Hayao Nakayama, Sega of America CEO Shoichiro Irimajri, and an entire entourage of Sega executives mostly from Japan which they were ready to see the current progress of the project. 3 game demos would be shown which the first was the main portion of the game that was made by Senn and Ofer and ported to the Saturn by POV, the second would be Christina Coffin's boss engine, and the third would be Senn and Ofer's (Sonic PC) pitch. The first demo being shown off was met with disappointment by the Sega executives, despite POV working really hard to port Ofer's game engine to the Saturn the game still ran at only a few frames per second. However when seeing the boss engine by Christina Coffin, the executives were impressed, Coffin had made a fairly smooth running engine that seemed to allow for more impressive movement and camera control. Following this Sega of America CEO Shoichiro Irimajri requested that the entire game would be moved to Christina's boss engine as the POV engine was no longer viable for development and therefore abandoned.
- April - After Bernard Stolar became President of Sega of America he would try to help the Sonic X-treme development team. The team requested that they would like to use the game engine from NiGHTS Into Dreams. Bernie agreed and after some talks with the Management team at Sega of Japan, the team now received the NiGHTS engine. The game would now see a new direction with this new engine plus the boss engine which this version of the game was named (Project Condor). However only 2 weeks later when the team was learning how to use the NiGHTS engine, Bernie was informed by Yuji Naka (creator of the engine) that Sonic X-treme development team was not allowed to use the engine thus Project Condor was now scrapped and the game had to now go back to running just on the boss engine.
- May/E3 1996 - The promotional video of Sonic X-treme was made for the second annual convention of E3 in Los Angeles which the video used gameplay from Ofer's old game engine before POV was brought on to the project and all gameplay was also from the PC version and not the Saturn. There was also a playable build of Sonic X-treme at E3 which was Christina Coffin's boss engine, the public was generally impressed with the game.
- June-July - Progress on the game was proceeding at a fast rate however this also meant some members were working overtime like Chris Senn and Christina Coffin, which the shifts were normally 16-18 hours. The team was now starting to become exhausted and burned out from working on the project which meant there was some optimism surrounding the project with one noticeable outcry was an animator that ended up getting fired for only working 9 hour shifts. The animator would also regularly point out that everyone was overworking themselves, he would also show up for a meeting at 5:00 PM and then abruptly leave at 5:30 PM which resulted in him getting fired the next day.
- August - Chris Senn was under a heavy amount of stress from working on the game and also still suffering from his illness that originated from January. His doctor informed him that if he continued to push himself working on the game he would be dead within 6 months. Realizing this and feeling like his body was gonna collapse if he didn't take a break, Chris Senn stepped down from the project which was a major blow to the development of Sonic X-treme. However the team still has Christina Coffin working on the game but issues would strike her too though. Much like Senn, Coffin was pushing herself and sometimes working 18 hours a day and it was taking a toll on her. Her doctor informed her to take a few weeks and if she continued to push hard, she would die within a few months like Chris Senn, thus she too stepped down from the project. By the end of August with the project crippled the producer of the team informed Sega of America management that the project could not continue on, which meant Sonic X-treme on Saturn was officially cancelled.
- Unknown Date - Chris Senn and Alon Ofer would continue to work on Sonic X-treme for PC known as (Sonic PC) but it never got the greenlight from SegaSoft as they only wanted ports of existing Sega games for PC and not entirely new games thus they never funded to project for it to continue, which saw the end of Sonic X-treme on PC.
|Download Sonic X-treme v001 Build
File: SONCBOOM_v001.zip (2.3 MB) (info)
The earliest build of Ofer Alon's Sonic X-treme engine on PC, executable dated November 28, 1995. It was found as a binary in the POV archive (no source code was found). It does not use an NV1, but rather renders using software, so this build will run on any PC running Windows 95 to Windows 10 with no modifications at all. While there is not much to see in this build, being a very early technical demo, it marks the beginning of a crucial point of Sonic X-treme's development.
- You must put the SONCBOOM folder in the root of your C drive in order for the executable to run.
- There is no controllable Sonic in this build.
- You can use the mouse to move the camera around and explore the level. To stop the camera from moving, you must move your cursor to the center of the window.
- You can reset the level by pressing any key. This moves the camera back to the starting point.
- The level contains some animated graphics, including bouncing balls and pixelated Sonic sprites (which may originate from earlier development on the 32X).
- The engine's code is very basic at this point and thus is extremely light on system resources. On a modern PC, it runs exceedingly fast, and the slightest mouse movement can move the camera far from the actual level.
|Download Sonic X-treme v37 Build
File: SonicXtreme_v37.zip (1.78 MB) (info)
This build is reminiscent of the E3 1996 trailer, bar the fisheye effect. It is a PC version-only build. The initial release of this build by Jollyroger featured only one level, the E3 Jade Gully level. Subsequent releases added scrolling background support to the OpenGL backend, gamepad support, music support, and included all the levels from the source archive. The build was recompiled by Jollyroger for modern machines and converted to render its graphics using OpenGL instead of an NV1, but the original NV1 build was also released.
A semi-functional Modern Windows/OpenGL port of the level editor was also released.
- The demo starts with a jungle level (often referred to as an early iteration of Jade Gully), which was promoted at E3. In a later release, a dialog box appears allowing you to select a DEF (level definitions file) to load.
- This demo lacks the "Fisheye Lens" feature found in later PC builds.
- Music and sound effects are absent in this build.
- Sonic can jump by pressing X and has an infinite jump, and can enter into "Ball Mode" by pressing Z (and can be exited the same way).
- This demo has the "World Rotation" feature: when Sonic enters into Ball Mode and touches a wall or a slope, the direction of gravity and the rotation of the level itself will change.
- There are rings scattered around the level, but they aren't collectible and were changed from blocks to actors by Jollyroger, which is why they don't have any collision (which was their behavior in the real Windows 95 version).
- There are some enemies in the level that cannot hurt Sonic and cannot be defeated by him; instead, they act just like blocks. In a later release, Jollyroger changed the enemies to actors, removing their collision.
v37 Level Editor
Having more detail is always a good thing.
This editor was programmed by Ofer Alon to assist designers in creating levels for his engine. However, according to Chris Senn, the editor was quite difficult to learn how to use, hindering the team's progress while the release deadline approached.
- The editor has two modes: "Edit Mode" allows you to edit the level, while "Run Mode" allows you to playtest the level. This allowed designers to test changes on the fly, and quickly go back to editing.
This build has both a PC and a Saturn version. At this point in development, the code was in the middle of a huge rewrite, so many features are broken. The code wouldn't even run properly the way Jollyroger originally found it, so it had to be partially rewritten.
- Only one level was found that works with this build without any modification (FRESH.DEF). The level is tiny, and only has one texture: a blue/purple checkerboard.
- There are rings and enemies scattered throughout the level, but they act as blocks. Unlike v37, Jollyroger did not convert them to actors.
- The fisheye lens featured in Chris Senn's "New Worlds" videos and at E3 is present in this build, and even works in the Saturn version!
- The World Rotation feature that was in v37 is broken in this build. Entering Ball Mode does nothing.
- The PC version has full animation frames for Sonic, rings, and enemies. The Saturn version only has two frames for each in order to increase performance.
714 Build (POV Saturn Demo)
Having more detail is always a good thing.
Dated July 14, 1996, this build is running on a completely different engine coded by Point of View for the Saturn. While there is no fisheye lens effect, it is more polished and functional than any of Ofer's PC or Saturn engine builds.
- The text Sonic Extreme is at the top of the screen.
- The demo starts with a grass level (that looks like an early iteration of Jade Gully).
- There are 2 badniks you can interact with at the start (like destroying and getting hit by them).
- You have a ring count at the bottom right corner of the screen with only one by default.
- The rings you lose can also still be collected and make the small counter at the bottom right corner of the screen go up.
- The level isn't much bigger than the one seen in the v40 build and you can get stuck in many places.
- There's no death plane when you fall off the map and a blue/purple checkerboard pattern floor from the v40 build does appear instead.
- It is possible to go into debug mode by pressing Start + B and freely move around and see your coordinates, when moving you can do Start + B again to place down a ring at the last position Sonic was at, however the ring will end up moving alongside your cursor and it's not possible to get out of debug mode unless you restart the level by pressing Start.
- The camera can be tilted slowly to the left using the L button.
- Pressing the Start button during gameplay will just restart the level.
Dated July 18, 1996. This was the first demo of Sonic X-treme to be found. It is from the "Project Condor" stage of development, and uses Chris Coffin's boss engine.
- The demo starts with the Sonic X-treme logo.
- A preliminary title card appears with the level name "Jade Gully".
- The music that plays in this demo is Quartz Quadrant Good Future from the non-US versions of Sonic CD.
- There are 50 rings in the level.
- There are floating diamond-shaped objects scattered around the level, but only the first one shoots Sonic up into the sky.
- The score counter keeps going up by itself for some reason.
- When the time runs out, it loops back to 5 minutes.
- An early Game Over screen can be triggered by pausing and pressing C. The music that plays here is also from the non-US versions of Sonic CD.
- Fang the Sniper
Fang the Sniper resides as an uncompressed SGL model in the game's files. He has 2 sets of normals, face and vertex (both of which are broken), and color data. He is comprised of 405 polygons and is the largest model in the ROM.
- Metal Blade zone boss arena
Also found in the ROM are remnants of the Metal Sonic boss, being his entire arena. Unfortunately, none of the textures have been found and are probably lost forever.
These textures can be seen below the playfield and were used in the Metal Sonic boss fight.
v53 Level Editor
Jollyroger does not have the source code to this build of the editor; only binaries were found. Thus there is, unfortunately, no way to port it to modern systems. He released one screenshot of the v53 editor running on Windows 98 in 2014, but two screenshots were previously found in the "PackageX" level archive that leaked in 2009. For many years, these two screenshots were the only glimpse the public had of Sonic X-treme's editor in action. Although since there was no recording of the editor in action, it is too soon to assume what is new and featured in the editor, such as the interesting "paths" feature that had Sonic running along scripted pathways in the levels as it has been confirmed the editor does not have paths.