A rather nice discovery has been made, amidst all the console doom and gloom. It turns out that a rather crafty member of the Sonic community has got his hands on a working ROM of a long-lost Sonic game called 'SEGASonic the Hedgehog'. The title, originally released in Japanese arcades in limited numbers, has been difficult to emulate due to its unique trackball control scheme. But now, someone's played it on a computer!
Well, we say 'played'... when we say it's a 'working' ROM, that's a pretty liberal use of the phrase. But it does load! And it's a legit copy of the game! And we never knew it really existed before now. That counts for something.
Green Gibbon of website The GHZ was the man who played the ROM, stating that, "you can only see about half the graphics at any given time (the blank spaces being represented by flashing gibberish and pure whiteness), it's slow as a sloth on Prozac, and the music is choppy."
I only played about fifteen minutes and got through a couple of areas, but it's actually pretty cool. The whole objective is to escape... there's something chasing you down every corridor, whether it's an avalanche, spiky steam-roller things or twisted gears. The objective is to keep moving. It's fast and although (or maybe because) it's simple, it seems like it could be a lot of fun.
The control is quite slippery. Think Marble Madness meets Sonic Spinball. The levels are laid out like corridors from a 3/4 (isometric) perspective, like Sonic Labyrinth or Sonic 3D Blast. Sonic has a power bar and rings help replenish it. What I could make out of the music sounds really good.
It's actually almost like a dumbed-down Sonic Labyrinth. It moves, though. I can imagine playing this thing in an arcade with two other people building up a sweat with the trackballs would have an almost Samba de Amigo-esque quality to it.
If you want to play it yourself, the ROM can be found on the Hidden Palace Forum. The ROM is known to work with an emulator called 'Modeler'.