Sega

Skies of Arcadia 2 [Cancelled – GameCube, PS2]

The original Skies of Arcadia was released in late 2000 / early 2001 on Dreamcast, and soon became a cult hit among JRPG fans. The game was developed by Overworks, a SEGA team composed of numerous legendary developers and designers, including Rieko Kodama, Shuntarō Tanaka, and Noriyoshi Ohba; who worked on past RPGs, such as the Phantasy Star series, Magic Knight Rayearth, Wonder Boy in Monster Land and the Sakura Taisen series. Hype was high and the final game was really one of the best japanese RPGs released in the ‘00, but unfortunately, it seems that Skies of Arcadia did not sell enough on Dreamcast (does anyone have official sales numbers?), maybe because of the low user base and the console early departure in early 2001.

skies of arcadia 2 cancelled

Sega was still confident about their sky-pirates project: they developed an enchanted PS2 and GameCube ports with added featured, to try to sell more copies and earn back some of the money spent to create the game. The GameCube version was released in December 2002 under the title “Skies of Arcadia Legends” but PS2 port was canned for some reasons, throwing away one of the biggest user base for RPG fanatics. As most Nintendo console, GameCube was not an easy console to sell third parties titles and with a lower percentage of people interested in turn based role playing games, Skies of Arcadia Legend bombed even harder than the Dreamcast version.

Before losing all faith in the game, Sega and Overworks were planning a sequel to Skies of Arcadia, as confirmed by interviews with developers from the original team. In June 2001 IGN asked to Noriyoshi Ohba about Skies of Arcadia 2 and he replied:

We’re considering a sequel to “Eternal Arcadia.” Regarding which platform, we’re still evaluating it.

In September 2002, before Skies of Arcadia Legends was published, Rieko Kodama told to Gamespy that work on the sequel was not yet started, but they really wanted to do it in the future:

I would love to make a sequel, but were really not working on it yet. […] We don’t know what platform we would make a sequel for, but GameCube has priority since Legend is coming out for it.

In march 2004 Ohba announced that they started some planning on the second episode:

The Skies of Arcadia sequel is in the planning stages at the moment.

In late 2004, Rieko talked again about Skies of Arcadia 2 in an interview with german Man!ac magazine (issue 1 / 2005) in which she said:

MAN!AC: There were rumors about a sequel (to Skies of Arcadia) or a “Gaiden” episode. Can you tell us something about that

Rieko : We had plans, but the other team members are currently working on other projects such as “Sakura Taisen” – this means SoA2 is currently on hold. Anyway I would be very glad about a new episode with the sky pirates.

In 2003 Overworks was absorbed into SEGA WOW and only a year later the team was split again because of another Sega company restructure: people that worked on Skies of Arcadia were scattered around on different games. As far as we were able to gather, not much was ever did for Skies of Arcadia 2 but at least a few ideas and concepts seem to have been brainstormed by the team, still hoping to release a sequel on GameCube or Playstation 2. In 2006 Nintendo and Sony released their new consoles (Wii, PS3) and whichever plans Sega had for a new Skies RPG on GameCube or PS2 will never see the light of day.

skies of arcadia valkyrie

Even without a sequel, love for Skies of Arcadia is still strong at Sega. Vyse, Aika and Fina, three of the main SoA protagonists, were added as bonus characters in Valkyria Chronicles, released in 2008 on PS3. Vyse is also a playable character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, released in 2012 for different consoles / PC and one of the game’s tracks, Rogues’ Landing, is based on Skies of Arcadia’s world.

Thanks to Mario for the contribution! 

Initial D EX [DS – Cancelled]

Initial D EX was a street racing game being developed by SEGA Rosso in 2007/08. This would have been the seventh game for consoles in the Initial D series, and there was also a series of arcade games. Initial D is a popular manga and anime series about illegal street racing in Japan. It was only rumours that this game would be coming to the DS and many people thought that this was a bogus announcement. This was because only a few images appeared on the SEGA Rosso website before quickly being taken down.

initial D DS Cancelled

This is actually the only evidence that this game ever existed or was in development. There were various stills of the game with “DS” in the corner. It was never officially confirmed whether or not a DS game was actually ever in development.

This was not the death of Initial D on a Nintendo handheld though, as a free-2-play instalment dubbed Perfect Shift Online was released in 2014 for the 3DS. In December 2014, it was confirmed that this will also have a sequel as it was downloaded over 500,000 times and has proved very popular.

If you know anything else about the DS version of Initial D, let us know in the comments!

Thanks to Marco for the contribution!

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Hammer Away [Arcade – Cancelled]

Hammer Away is an unreleased arcade shoot ’em up game for the System-18, which was being developed by Santos in partnership with SEGA in around 1990-1991. It was intended to be launched in ’91, but ultimately never made its way to arcades for unknown reasons.

An off-screen shot of Hammer Away's title scren

The title screen of Hammer Away.

The title was a military-themed vertical scrolling shoot ’em up in which the player controls a helicopter, facing off against all manner of hostile army forces, like stationary turrets, tanks, battleships and other choppers. There were two modes of attack available: rapid-fire machine guns for ground targets and missiles for air ones, in addition to a powerful bomb attack which instantly wipes the screen of all enemies.

It featured music that is believed to have been created by former Santos composer, Hirofumi Murasaki, who also worked on other SEGA project such as Clockwork Knight and Shinobi III.

Despite never being released officially, a prototype version of the game was recovered in Portugal by three savvy arcade fanatics towards the start of November 2014.

A month later, the ROM was extracted and made readily available online. There is a total of five different levels in the build found, including environments such as a railroad and an oceanic section. There is a checkpoint system in place and in the event that you lose a life, you are sent back to one of these; as opposed to resetting the game. Once the five stages are over, the game restarts itself from the opening stage.

Images (Courtesy of Sudden Desu):

Sonic Generations [Beta – PS3/Xbox 360]

Sonic Generations [Beta – PS3/Xbox 360]

Sonic Generations is a 3D action platforming game developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA. The game was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the company’s famed mascot, Sonic The Hedgehog. It was released in late 2011 and observed a number of small changes on its road to launch.

‘Sonic Anniversary’ & The Cancelled Versions

As revealed by leaked correspondance between SEGA of America and Sony Corporation of America from September 2009, the original working title of the game was ‘Sonic Anniversary’. It is unclear exactly which stage of its development the title was at back then, but we can safely assume a very early one.

The next update on Sonic Anniversary came from Madrid’s Gamefest 2010, courtesy of Sonic news site, Sonic Paradise. As corroborated by Sonic Reikai, a SEGA representative reportedly let slip an abundance of information on the game to one of their reporters. Without the authorisation of SEGA, the rep. disclosed that it was to be a combination of 2D and 3D gameplay, and would be developed for Nintendo Wii, PSP, PS3 and DS. When asked whether or not it was planned to come to Xbox 360, the employee indicated that talks were still ongoing.

Eventually, the game was officially announced as Sonic Generations on April 18, 2011 for Xbox 360 and PS3. It is uncertain how far the Wii, PSP and DS versions progressed, but our sources suggest that they were cancelled not long into development.

Two Three Sonics, One Epic Adventure?

Partway through development, long before the game’s script had been finalised, Ryan Drummond was invited by SEGA to re-audition for his role as Sonic The Hedgehog. Previously, the voice actor had played the character in a number of games, like the Sonic Adventure titles, but was replaced by Jason Griffith in 2004’s Shadow The Hedgehog.

Due to a fundamental professional disagreement with the company, Drummond ended up turning down the opportunity. According to one of our sources, who was formerly of SEGA, the actor would have played a “third Sonic” who would have represented the Dreamcast era of the series.

At another stage, Sonic Team also considered the possibility of Classic Sonic having a speaking role in the game and consulted the staff at SEGA of America about it. Aaron Webber, the associate brand manager at SoA at the time, insisted that if the character were to speak, he would have to be voiced by Jaleel White.

White, who was responsible for portraying the mascot in all three of the Sonic animated shows (Sonic SatAM, Sonic Underground and The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog) from the 90’s, was never contacted about the opportunity, however. The idea was soon dropped early on in production and Classic Sonic was made to be mute.

Sonic’s Birthday Beta

Despite the project as a whole being made to commemorate the blue blur’s birthday, the precise date of the 20th anniversary was June 23, 2011. To mark the big day, SEGA began distributing  a beta demo of Sonic Generations on Xbox Live and PSN. This build contained the very first stage, which was Green Hill Zone Act 1, wherein Classic Sonic is playable.

The layout of Classic Green Hill was ever so slightly different in the beta. At the section about midway through when you enter the cave, a buzz bomber present in the final game had not yet been added. Instead, there is a platform. Furthermore, breaking item monitors/boxes would leave a briefly a blue static effect on the screen.

There was also a different loading screen in this build, showing Sonic and Dr Eggman in their Sonic 2 sprite forms:

Modern Sonic Beta

Later in the year, a few weeks before launch, SEGA put out a second downloadable demo on October 18 2011, which was at first exclusively available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. This second beta contained the second level from the game, which was Green Hill Zone Act 2, featuring Modern Sonic. It was lifted from a build first on show to attendees of E3 and Summer of Sonic in 2011.

Inexplicably, there is a difference between the voice clips used in the demo and the released game. Not only is Sonic’s voice clip for boosting different, he begins the level by saying “Ready? Go!”; similar to how he started each day stage in Sonic Unleashed off by announcing “Here we… go!”. This was later scrapped. It appears to have been an alteration that was implemented fairly late in development.

This assertion is supported by the fact that the clip itself still remains in the sound files programmed for every Modern Sonic stage in the game. Via modding, fans have been able to access these. As it turns out, Sonic Team simply muted the “Ready? Go!” voice clip instead of removing it. A number of hackers have been able to undo this change so the line can once again be heard within the game.

Like Act 1, there are some minor contrasts in the stage design, too. Towards the end of the level, Sonic must homing attack a chain of buzz bombers and extra spikes were present, also. A trick rainbow ring, which sends the player in the wrong direction later replaced these enemies.

Sonic’s blue aura effect, in this version, followed him whenever he uses his jump dash, stomp or homing attack moves; similar to how he did in Unleashed. Furthermore, the game is much more generous with the amount of boost power it allows the player when they use tricks in mid-air.

Unused Cutscene?

In some of the pre-release trailers SEGA used to promote the game, you can get a glimpse at a CGI cinematic which was never included in the final release. Whether or not this is a genuine unused cutscene that was dropped, as opposed to merely something created for promotional purposes remains unknown.

It can be seen towards the closing of the ‘Rivals and Bosses’ teaser and features Sonic and Tails confronting the Time Eater in Green Hill.

Thanks to The Neo JoyIvo Robotnik and Runaway for their contributions!

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