Sonic X-treme. Just the name can send a shiver up the spine of anyone who anxiously awaited the release of the game, reading the Red Shoe Diaries over and over again, trying to dissect each screenshot and guess what obstacles were in store for each new zone. Meant to be Sonic’s first foray into the world of 3D gaming, the title was quietly cancelled during 1996, a Sega Saturn port of Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island filling the hole in scheduling. For years, speculation ran wild as to what happened, and over time many of those involved in the project have spoken about it, including Chris Senn who created an entire compendium chronicling the development history of the game.
But with all we’ve come to discover in the last 18 years, there are still aspects that have been hidden away, the most glaring being how it would feel to hold a controller in your hands and move Sonic about in his fish-eye world. The only playable build thus far had been the test arena from Christina Coffin’s boss engine, a green hill-esque terrain with not much more than random Flickies populating a finite plane with no end goal. That, however, is about to change in a very big way.
Read more after the jump.
A couple weeks back, jollyrodger, on the gaming forum ASSEMBler, posted about how he had come into possession of a plethora of content from the archives of defunct gaming studio Point of View. Among those files? Material relating to Sonic X-treme, as POV had been hired on to port over the code of Ofer Alon’s X-treme engine to the Saturn. With the content but not the proper working environment to have it all run properly, jollyrodger asked for help acquiring what would make POV’s archives run once more.
It wasn’t long before Sonic Retro forum member Cooljerk and X-treme enthusiast Andrew75 (of ASAX fame) answered the call, with CJ going on record to reassure us all that, yes, this is the real deal:
Now, onto the specifics of what I got to see – namely the source code. I can confirm with my own two eyes that this is indeed the real deal source and it’s crazy. We have 5 builds of this from various states of Ofer’s work. Early on, we have a partially completed build where Ofer was in the middle of transferring his work over from a software renderer he built to the actual NV1 hardware, which is where we think we can get the software renderer working again. Everything actually builds from the same source – saturn, PC, and mac – but it’s the absolute thinnest abstraction layer you could possibly imagine. Functions like “draw polygon” overloaded with the brunt of the work being done in these sorts of calls, lol.
Also included? A never-before-seen version of X-treme made by POV after they gave up trying to port over Ofer’s work. How similar or different it is to what Senn’s team was trying to do is unknown as of this writing, but seeing the results should prove interesting at the very least.
There is no specific date as to when the material will be available for public consumption, since it could take weeks, months, or even longer before everything is sorted. But rest assured that once it’s all ready to go, we’ll let you know. The screenshot above? Proof progress has already begun, with one of the builds loading up in the Sega Saturn emulator SSF. For the first time in 18 years, Sonic will run again on those perilous paths hovering over an empty void.
For up-to-the-minute reports, be sure to check out the Sonic Retro forum topic, full of giddy excitement.