New footage of canned Sonic hoverboard game surfaces

It isn't exactly a secret that tons of video games die before ever leaving the prototype stage, and today we're learning more information about an old Sonic the Hedgehog prototype that first surfaced six years ago. Avid Sonic fans might already be familiar with the footage on display here, but now the third-party developer behind the prototype is sharing the story of why the game, known as Sonic Extreme, never saw the light of day in a new video from Unseen 64.

The road to this prototype begins with a company called Vision Scape. Way back in 2003, Vision Scape found itself without an active project when publisher THQ canceled its in-progress Rocket Power game – based on the old Nickelodeon show of the same name. With an engine already developed for use in Rocket Power and other skateboarding games, Vision Scape co-founder Matt McDonald decided to pitch Sonic Extreme to Sega with a playable demo.

Vision Scape had been contracted by Sega to develop the CGI cutscenes in Sonic Heroes, so it already had access to handful of Sonic assets. Using these, Vision Scape developed a fairly limited prototype for Sonic Extreme, which features Sonic and Shadow competing in a few different arenas. One of those arenas is notably based on Green Hill Zone, outfitted with a race track, ramps, half pipes, and grind rails.

With prototype in-hand, Vision Scape pitched the project to Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka, who at first seemed interested in the game. Naka asked Vision Scape to come up with design documents and the budget they'd need to complete the game. Vision Scape did just that, but then didn't hear back from Sonic Team and Sega.

That could have been the end of it, but if you're a Sonic die-hard, you know it wasn't. A few years later, in 2006, Sega launched Sonic Riders for Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube, a title that features the Sonic cast racing and battling on hoverboards. Sonic Riders shares not only the basic hoverboard idea with Sonic Extreme, but also a few features, such as a battle mode that Vision Scape had built into its prototype.

Obviously, Sonic Riders was a little too familiar for McDonald, and he tells Unseen64 that at one point, he even asked his attorney about the legality of the game. As it turns out, Vision Scape's non-disclosure agreement for Sonic Heroes stipulated that any projects developed with Sonic the Hedgehog characters or assets were the property of Sega. So, the company was operating well within the law by launching Sonic Riders, even if it did get the idea from Sonic Extreme.

Of course, this isn't Earth shattering news, especially considering that it's been more than a decade since this prototype was first shown to Sega. Still, it's always fascinating to see early footage of games that never made it off the ground, and here we have the bonus of developer commentary to go along with it. Be sure to head down to the comments section to let us know what you think of this prototype and the story behind it!