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TSS @ SAGE '23: Blasting Into An Alternate Past With Project 32X


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One, specific niche of Sonic project that I’ve come to love are the ones that seek to recreate what’s been lost to history. Whether it’s canceled cartoons and comics, or game demos and prototypes, I have a soft spot on my heart for projects that give us a peek at what could have been, even if what could have been was garbage. Sonic X-Treme has typically gotten the lion’s share of the attention, but none of those are at SAGE this year. Instead, we have a little project from RetroDev called Project 32X, something that seeks to create some playable iteration of those Sonic Mars concepts.


Now, I’m just going to say it upfront: this isn’t very fun. The level design is very basic, Sonic does not react to hitting or being hit by enemies, and the lack of camera control makes certain parts of each level very frustrating. Specifically, when you have to run into the screen and platform, forcing you to be very careful about jumping over each level’s many death pits.

But while this isn’t very fun, it is a convincing, playable recreation of what a 32X is capable of. From the flat shaded low poly models to the very basic geometry and limited draw distance, if I didn’t know better I’d think this was a genuine 32X ROM. As the demo goes on, levels become more complex, with branching paths, optional emerald coins to collect, and even a neat little ramp gimmick, all done while keeping it convincingly within the realm of something a 32X could run. While the level designs are totally original, they do feel like something done in the spirit of the more linear level concepts from Sonic Mars.

Ultimately, as a game based on those concepts…this is about the kind of game I’d expect! I do hope future iterations of this demo eliminate certain issues, such as the aforementioned lack of enemy feedback and into-the-screen platforming. But I also hope this project doesn’t sacrifice being a convincing 32X game in the name of fun. While this is not a particularly fun game, it is an interesting study into how a Sonic game might function utilizing Sonic Mars’ concepts and the inherent limitations of really early 3D game design. If that sounds interesting to you, I recommend checking Project 32X out!

You can download the game here.

Check out a video of the entire demo from our Youtube channel below:


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