Did you know that back in 1996, Sega exhibited a very cool 3D Sonic game called Sonic X-Treme on its Saturn console. I remember reading previews in magazines and having debates with friends about whether the game would make the Saturn a worthy purchase. For me the answer was NO, I would hold out for the Nintendo 64, but I looked forward to playing the new Sonic game on someone else’s Saturn in the near future!
And then the game disappeared. The game was cancelled for various reasons, and I’ve not thought too much more about the game since. Thankfully, we live in the age of the internet, and 19 years later, you can finally play the game for yourself! Check out the trailer below:
My first thoughts after watching was that the game looked very similar in parts to Super Monkey Ball, and I wonder if this game had an influence on its development. Watching Sonic in action doesn’t have me as enthralled as I was expecting, perhaps because Sonic in 3D is now so common place.
If you’d like to learn more about the process of bringing the game back to life, check out this small documentary:
If you’d like to download the game and have a play for yourself, check out the Sonic Retro forum.
Nintendo’s crossover to 3d was full of strained missteps. In the realm of technological capability and the main area that consoles were fighting over, AESTHETICS. lets take some of the early games;
Killer instinct gold, in my mind graphically dull compared to the Snes version and due to the N64’s memory limitations it did not feature the different endings that the arcade had.
Pilotwings 64, still a great game today but it didn’t move on enough from the original on the SNES and although true 3d (the SNES used mode 7 graphics) the SNES version was a much more enticing game to look at and sometimes you forgot that it wasn’t 3d.
ClayFighter 63 1/3, was rehashed so many times for many reasons like trying to fit in new characters that the the N64 had no memory left so the graphics took a hit and they even deleted the entire combo system.
(I am aware that I am missing out some titles, I will get back to them.)
I don’t think it was unfair for N64 owners to expect something special from the new console. Advertising everywhere was telling us that this was the big one, the 5th generation (yes the n64 was the 5th generation argue all you like) and the Ps1 was gaining some real momentum. Over here in Europe we got the N64 almost a full year after the Ps1. We were wetting ourselves in anticipation of what the console could do.
Lets talk about storage, (I think we will all agree) its not something the N64 excels at. The N64 couldn’t handle as many textures as the the Ps1 because of the ROM cartridge and trying to fit textures, 3d rotation and a lengthy game on them meant that finding room for sound was near impossible. Where as the Ps1 could sample real recordings the N64 fell a little short.
Let me interject here, I LOVE the N64 I own 5 of them and have a large catalogue of games for them which I play more often than my Ps1 and Saturn combined. I’m just trying to be objective and paint the fullest picture I can of the console at its release date. With that in mind let me tell you why I love it and why (despite its limitations) you should love it too in my next post:
N64 problems but Sony aint one
When I was a young kid we still had a giant hi-fi stereo in my house and the core of my family’s music listening was not the new fangled 8 track system, but the tried and true turntable. Of course my parents’ taste in music consisted of albums along the line of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass’ Whipped Cream & Other Delights, so it wasn’t the most thrilling musical lineup for a young kid.
I remember digging through the piles of records one day when I found a weird record that consisted of “space sounds”. I am not too clear on the albums origins and I have been trying to track it down for a while. They were electronic sound effects, which I assume were fake, that were supposed to simulate the sounds of our planetary neighbors. It was awesome!
I had basically given up home of hearing anything like these recordings ever again. Luckily I saw this post about the NASA website this morning “œEerie Sounds of Saturn’s Radio Emissions”. This thing had been out for 2 years! How could I have missed this?
It was exactly as I remembered, and boy did it take me back to those early years. Back when I thought the Jetsons was a peak into the future and I would own a summer house on Mars by the time I was 25. It’s not the future I predicted, but at least I can hear the sweet sounds of our distant planet for real now. Baby steps.
Enjoy the Creepy yet beautiful sounds of Saturn.