Rare look at the scrapped Sonic DS E3 2004 Tech Demo

What you’ll see is a rare video showcasing the original Sonic DS Tech Demo that was shown off at E3 2004 as a means of demonstrating the system’s graphical capabilities and potential uses of the bottom touch screen. The footage shows the full level with the direct-feed audio intact (with a bit of background noise).

Some of you may remember a long time ago at E3 2004, the Nintendo DS was fully announced and shown off for the very first time. On display at the live conference was mostly just Super Mario 64×4 (later renamed Super Mario 64 DS) and Metroid Prime Hunters.

But Sonic himself did make an appearance on the show floor. Sonic Rush, which eventually came out at the end of 2005, would not be unveiled until the following year at E3 2005. Instead, what was shown was a full 3D-rendered tech demo featuring Sonic in a small-scale Seaside Hill Zone from Sonic Heroes.

The demo had very limited gameplay featured, all you did was just move your finger (or stylus) back and forth on the bottom screen to make Sonic move faster and faster. Sonic’s movement was automatic otherwise and he would move in a single direction around the island collecting some rings. You could also jump, and change the camera angle by pressing certain icons on the bottom screen. The goal was to just make it to the goal as quickly as possible.

The demo featured here never materialized into a full game. However, evidence was seen that at the very least the demo lived on in a very small scale, more of a reference than anything in the Wii game Sonic and the Secret Rings. At E3 2006 when Sonic and the Secret Rings was first unveiled (then known as Sonic Wild Fire), the Sand Oasis stage in the demo featured an alternate ending sequence where Sonic does a running thumbs up that’s very identical to the same animation shown at the end of the Sonic DS demo. You can see a video of the Sonic Wild Fire demo below:

And that’s the end of the story of Sonic DS. It wasn’t destined to be a full game. It gave fans a look at how a potential 3D Sonic game on the DS might’ve looked, but alas, it never happened. Instead Sega released Sonic Rush in 2005, followed by Sonic Rush Adventure in 2007, and finally Sonic Colors DS in 2010. All were developed alongside Dimps of the Sonic Advance trilogy, and all were 2D games. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look at an obscure piece of Sonic history. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Via the E3 Access 2004: The Future Of Video Games DVD (Sonic DS portion uploaded by ThoseOtherguys PT).

14 Comments

  1. I quite like the version of Escape From The City in this Tech Demo. Not to shaby I may say…

    1. I know right? I was thinking the same, it sounded like a Sonic Advance version of Escape From The City.

    1. It wasn’t as much canned as it was just a tech demo showing what the DS can do. Nintendo DS was brand new at the time.

  2. I did get to play this back in the day (been going to E3 for years). Besides that game they had early builds of Metroid Prime DS and a Yoshi game that used both screens as one screen.

  3. Aah! That old prototype DS! Back in the days when having an N64 game on a portable was unheard of. The memories…

  4. A bit of a small detail but I like how when you reach top-speed everything flips in colour and Sonic starts running “slowly”.

    Not exactly ideal aesthetically – It’d be really disorientating in, say, Unleashed – But realistically it makes more sense than the boost in later games.

  5. I was so excited to play this game after this E3 and kept waiting for this demo to leak online. Sadly, neither of those two things ended up happening. At least I got a cool stylus from that year.

  6. Wow, this is certainly different especially Sonic Wildfire… I mean Secret Rings!
    I’m guessing the level design is different to keep up Sonic’s speed.

  7. Me: I think it’s cute how he’s trying to tie Wildfire into this, but I really doubt there’s a connection.
    *Actually sees the Wildfire ending*
    Holy cow! That looked EXACTLY like the tech demo ending! Go figure.
    Overall, this is one of my favorites when it comes to ancient/lost pieces of Sonic history. I always thought the tech demo would have made a great special stage but alas.

  8. Jesus, I’m glad that wasn’t an actual game, can you imagine how many peoples DS touch screens would be destroyed in seconds?! However, it looks like an early Sonic Dash with more camera movement and more control over the game.

  9. This reminds me a lot of Sonic Dash, Seaside hill and running on rails, Maybe they took a bit of inspiration from this? Anyways it was a cool idea but clearly just a tech demo, Nothing amazing.

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