Sonic The Hedgehog Was Almost a Skateboarding Game
Back in the early 2000s Vision Scape Interactive was working on a Sonic the Hedgehog skateboarding game that never came to be, and now we have an actual look at the game, thanks to Unseen64 on their DidYouKnowGaming? YouTube channel.
Vision Scape Interactive created SeaBlade for the original Xbox, as well as Bare Knuckle Grind, a game based off the Tech Deck toy series. After having worked on some cutscene animations for Sonic Heroes, the company head, Matt McDonald, decided to use assets acquired from SEGA along with mechanics from their Tech Deck game to create a Sonic skateboarding prototype game, known as Sonic Extreme.
What they created was actually pretty impressive considering the work was done in just a week. The game included a single player mode where players performed tricks, gained points, and ultimately unlocked an emerald, all set in Sonic's familiar Green Hill Zone environment. There were a couple of multiplayer modes, including battle in which Sonic and Shadow the Hedgehog went head to head using power ups including grenades and rockets.
Vision Scape Interactive took the prototype to SEGA with plans to create the game for PS2, Xbox, and GameCube and the company seemed quite impressed. Sonic Team's Yuji Naka asked the team at Vision Scape to lay out a development plan and determine how much it would cost to develop this Sonic Tony Hawk-like game.
Vision Scape soon got back to SEGA but from there, things went silent. The company didn't hear back from SEGA again, and then two years later SEGA announced their own Sonic hover board game called Sonic Riders. The game bears similarities, mainly in concept, though it is quite evident that the Sonic Team took inspiration from Vision Scape's prototype.
When McDonald checked with his lawyers about the legality of the game it turned out that Vision Scape's contract with SEGA from Sonic Heroes stated that anything the company worked on with SEGA's intellectual property (Sonic in this case) belonged to SEGA. There's no way of telling for certain that SEGA took Vision Scape's idea and made their own game with it, but that's pretty much what happened here. In all fairness the Sonic Rider series is more Mario Kart and less Tony Hawk, but the original concept does come off as borrowed by comparison. It's kinda like a big-ol' f**k you form SEGA. Fortunately for the team at Vision Scape, the Sonic Rider series was almost universally panned.
It's too bad we'll never get to play Sonic Extreme, but it is nice to have the gameplay footage and story behind it. God, that game looks so early 2000s Sonic, it isn't even funny.