Sega Virtual Reality

SEGA VR (virtual reality headset from 1993)

Thanks to what felt like endless press about virtual reality in the early 1990s and the film The Lawnmower Man, SEGA decided to throw their hat into the ring of VR. Obviously this had the possibility of making consumers look their way and maybe even tempt them to buy the Sega Genesis instead of the Super Nintendo. So what happened to this piece of technology?

VIDEO GAME STARS explains in their 90 second video. In the video, you’ll see former MTV host Alan Hunter on stage at a CES show to demonstrate this device. I wonder how people were more focused on his ridiculously loud shirt than the headset. Anyway..

If you’re wondering, I made the video. If you like it, you’re welcome. If you don’t, um, here’s Sonic going down an endless waterslide.

Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog

In recent months I’ve found myself obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog. This has naturally required that I re-play his games, and so I have been playing the first Genesis title with a passion not seen in me since the early 90’s. Once I had completed the first Sonic, I moved on to Sonic 2, and was re-introduced to Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, the two-tailed flying fox. A few minutes into the second game I began to wonder if anyone had thought to modify the original Sonic game to replace Sonic with Tails – I speculated that some enterprising hacker must surely have found a way to replace the in-game sprites. I was right, someone had, and that was just the start…

Green Hill Zone

A quick search online revealed that Sonic’s first outing has been modified in all manner of ways – new graphics, levels, characters, game mechanics… the list goes on and on, and my initial search left me giddy with excitement. I focused my efforts and found the aptly titled ‘Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog’ which, as described by the modder: “…is a hack of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis by drx featuring Tails as a playable character instead of Sonic. Tails can fly, Spin Dash and swim in the same way that he can in Sonic 3”.

Put simply, this was the same original outing, minus Sonic.

Flying Fox!

Playing the modification is as simple as downloading the ROM and firing up your favourite emulator. I’ve just finished playing through the whole game with Tails, and I can confirm that the experience was a delight. You can watch a complete play-through over at Youtube:

If you would prefer to try it out for yourself, check out the Sonic Retro website for more information.

Sonic X-Treme has arrived!

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.

When Sonic met Madonna

Sonic Concept Art

Did you know that Sonic the Hedgehog once had a human love interest called “Madonna”? I didn’t but thanks to the excellent Sonic Game Development Guide over at Sonic Retro, I now know a lot more about Sega’s famous blue speedster!

According to their guide, the concept of Madonna was toyed around with but ultimately dropped from the final product. The concept art for the character was featured in the compilation title Sonic Gems Collection, although artwork had been on the Internet prior to the game’s release. Apparently she didn’t get beyond the concept stage primarily because of the stark comparison her presence would have made between Sonic and the Mario series – having a heroine who would be kidnapped and subsequently rescued by the hero of the game was such a cliche at that point that Sonic Team wanted to focus on the battle between Sonic and Eggman.

Sonic x Madonna

I’m pleased that they dropped the Madonna character from the final game. Why would a fast blue hedgehog need to date a busty blonde human anyway?