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Bonk 64 (Ultra Genjin) [N64 – Cancelled]

Bonk (also known as “PC Genjin” in Japan and “BC Kid” in Europe) is the name of the main character in a series of platforming games that was started on the PC Engine in 1990 when the first title, Bonk’s Adventure, was developed by Hudson. Bonk soon became the mascot of Hudson in an 8/16-bit market filled with mascot-platformers (Mario, Sonic, etc.) and they released a few sequels for PC Engine and Super Famicom.

When Nintendo announced their Ultra 64 in late 1994 many Japanese companies started to plan 3D versions of their main properties for the 64 bit console and with the showcase of Mario 64 it looked like 3D platforming was finally finding its roots. At the time Hudson had a very good relationship with Nintendo, in 1997 they released Dual Heroes and Bomberman 64, while sometime later they also co-developed Mario Party together, a title that became a popular hit with the N64 user-base.

What most gamers do not know is that in 1995 Hudson in cooperation with A.I Studio (the team that already worked on other PC Genjin titles) were also planning a new, exclusive Bonk game for the Ultra 64, tentatively titled “Ultra Genjin”, that would have been the first 3D Bonk game to be released.

Unfortunately the Ultra Genjin team was still not used to creating 3D platforming games and they were not sure about how to develop this new version of Bonk or how to implement its characteristic 2D design into 3D graphics. In the end they decided to cancel the project and focus on other titles. The images you can see on this page are the only remaining documents on the development of Ultra Genjin with the first draft of Bonk in 3D.

bonk 64 Ultra Genjin Nintendo64 cancelled

bonk 64 Ultra Genjin Nintendo64 cancelled

After some years Hudson and A.I took the early work they had done on Bonk 64 to develop Bomberman Hero which was finally released in 1998 on the N64. As we can read in an interview by GDRI with Shouichi Yoshikawa:

GDRI: What happened with Ultra Genjin [N64]?

Yoshikawa: Ultra Genjin was being planned during the game industry’s transition from 2D to 3D games. I studied the practical aspects of this quite a bit, but I think that nobody really knew what should be done with games at the time. As a result of trial and error, we were able to adapt the design for Ultra Genjin to Bomberman Hero.”

The last original Bonk game released for consoles remains Cho Genjin 2, published in 1995 for the Super Famicom and the series never had a proper 3D incarnation. Other 3D Bonk games were cancelled many years later including Bonk 3D for Nintendo 3DS and Bonk: Brink of Extinction for Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Because of several financial losses Hudson sold most of its shares to Konami and in 2012 Hudson Soft Co. Ltd completely ceased to exist and fully merged with Konami, losing all of their IPs. It’s currently unknown if we’ll ever see another Bonk game in the future. 

Aero the Acrobat 3: A3RO [Playstation – Cancelled Pitch]

Aero the Acrobat 3 (also known as A3RO or Aero 3D) is the cancelled third chapter in the action platformer series composed by Aero the Acrobat, Aero the Acro-Bat 2 and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. Aero 3D was conceived at Universal Interactive Studios in the mid ‘90s, while they were also working with Naughty Dog to create the first Crash Bandicoot for Playstation.

David Siller was the original creator of the Aero the Acrobat series and he later bought back his Aero IP and sold it to Universal Interactive Studios, when he was hired to produce two new 3D platformers: Crash Bandicoot and Aero the Acrobat 3D. In the mid nineties 3D platformers where one of the most successful genres and Universal Studios wanted to to take advantage of the profitable Playstation market to make some money.

As wrote by David in his (now deleted) Facebook page “Crash Bandicoot Untold Story” (archived by Crash Mania):

“Tension was heighten at Universal as they bought from me an IP that I had created at SUNSOFT called “Aero the Acrobat”. I had just bought it from Sunsoft as I departed there for the Universal lot!  Rubin and Gavin again went on the extreme offensive believing that Universal’s new acquisition would become more important than Crash or Willy. I began also designing the new AERO 3D polygonal video game to be added to the line-up.”

In 2016 David shared a few pages from the Aero the Acrobat 3 design doc in his Twitter account (now deleted):

david siller aero the acrobat 3

From these documents it seems the game would have had multiple playable protagonists and 3D flying levels.

From what we know the game was still in early conceptual phase when it was canned. We can speculate that the success of Crash Bandicoot and the internal issues between David, Universal Interactive Studios and Naughty Dog put and end to the project. As we can read from the same archive at Crash Mania:

“Back in Rubin’s office, he was angry at me about “this letter” and then threaten my life! He said I was going to be sorry! I did NOT report this to management or anyone one else at that time. I was a mature adult who could take this and I wasn’t afraid of Rubin as I came from a tough neighborhood and had loads of associates myself. Rubin’s father was a lawyer and I suppose told him to always act tough or people will shit on you. Those tactics do NOT work, but that was the final straw. Mark Cerny then used this severed relationship to get involved as Sony had just arrived. He said quote “They don’t like you!”….”

“When I was hired to join Universal Interactive Studios, it was owned by Matsushita Electric, the largest Electronics manufacturer in the World located in Japan. It was run by the longest in place Management team in all of Hollywood, Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg! It was utopia as far as I was concerned. Everything was so damn cool, everything the Studio did was classy and first rate. Soon as Crash Bandicoot was approaching completion, Matsushita sold their majority interest to the Canadian distillery Seagrams! Everything then became chaotic and all the top tier managers were fired. Sony then came into the picture and that caused even more chaos. This of course played into Rubin and Gavin’s agenda and the s*** hit the fan!”

It’s currently unknown what happened to David after he deleted all his online profiles and if he’s still working on video games.

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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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