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Long-Lost Sonic Skateboarding Prototype Resurfaces

A few years ago, a collector discovered a prototype for a Sonic the Hedgehog-themed skateboarding game called Sonic Extreme in an old Xbox development kit. Now, Unseen64—a website devoted to chronicling cancelled and unreleased games—has the full scoop on what exactly Sonic Extreme is and why the game never came to be.

According to Unseen64, Sonic Extreme was an independent project put together by developers at Vision Scape Interactive, the company behind the Xbox shooter SeaBlade and a number of skateboarding titles, including an early toys-to-life experiment called Bare Knuckle Grind. After losing funding for a big project, Vision Scape, which also produced the CG cutscenes in Sonic Heroes, mixed its existing technology with assets from Sega to put together the Sonic Extreme prototype, which it pitched to Sega after about a week.

As Unseen64 tells the story, the pitch went over quite well, and Sega asked for a full design document and a proposed budget. Vision Scape sent over the required information. Then, silence. Sega cut off all communication with Vision Scape and released Sonic Riders—another Sonic the Hedgehog-themed skateboarding game—just a couple of years later. Vision Scape executives are pretty sure that Sega took the basic Sonic Extreme concept and took it in a different direction when developing Sonic Riders, but thanks to the contract that they signed while working on Sonic Heroes, the company was left without any outlet for legal action.

Sonic Extreme bears a passing resemblance to Sonic Riders, although beyond the general idea (i.e. Sonic on a hoverboard), the links aren't concrete. Allegedly, Sonic Extreme has three modes: a racing competition, a Mario Kart-like battle mode, and a single-player quest, in which players must explore a Green Hill Zone-like skate park in search of one of the Chaos Emeralds.

Given that Sonic Extreme is just a prototype, it's hard to tell exactly what the final game would've been like (Vision Scape went out of business in 2006, so there's not a lot to compare it to on that end, either). Still, Unseen64's video is a neat look at what could've been. If you like that sort of thing, be sure to check out our list of unreleased games that you can play today, which is full of promising games that never quite reached their full potential.