The gaming industry has absolutely exploded since its earlier days in the ‘70s and ‘80s. What once started as a fairly niche industry has turned into one of the most lucrative and popular fields in entertainment. Long gone are the days when only a small percentage of people were gamers. Now it’s practically the norm. While many other changes have helped shape the video game industry over the past few decades, one of the most significant shifts was when Sega got out of the first-party hardware manufacturing game and instead focused on being a third-party developer for others.
At one point it seemed like the video game industry only consisted of Sega and Nintendo, so their farewell to the console game was a big deal. Even though Sega has done a decent job re-branding themselves, it’s still interesting to think about how the industry might be different if they were still around. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Unreleased Sega Games That Might Have Saved Them.
20 Sonic Crackers
The original Sonic games for the Sega Genesis are absolutely legendary. Sonic had a strong start, but as gaming continued to evolve, it struggled to figure out how to push Sonic forward with it. Sonic Crackers began production on the Sega 32X and made use of a new ring concept that would tether two players together. Sonic Crackers went through a number of shifts in production and would eventually be released as Knuckles Chaotix, devoid of Sonic. Chaotix was still popular, but a true Sonic game on the in-between console would have helped give it more of an identity.
19 Air NiGHTS
NiGHTS Into Dreams was an "app killer" game for the Sega Saturn that showed off what the plucky system was really capable of achieving. NiGHTS is a true triumph of gaming, so fans were devastated when a sequel never materialized (unless you count the disappointing Wii sequel from much later). News broke that developer, Yuji Naka, had actually been developing a sequel, Air NiGHTS, for a prototype version of the Dreamcast.
Air NiGHTS would have gone even further with the free-roaming gameplay and made use of a motion control-based controller that the Dreamcast had in consideration. When the Dreamcast decided to go a different way with their tech, Air NiGHTS was also sadly cancelled.
18 Sonic X-Treme
Just like how every Nintendo console features a new and impressive Mario game, it's basically expected that a Sega console would debut with Sonic. The Sega Saturn struggled to find an identity against Sony's PlayStation and the fact that it had no major Sonic game only made matters worse. Sonic X-Treme was meant to be the Saturn's take on Sonic in order to take him out of a 2D setting. A satisfying final product could not be agreed on and the project didn't progress past a demo build. The compilation title, Sonic Jam, was released as a consolation prize, which used some Sonic X-Treme assets, but fans wanted a new game.
17 Streets Of Rage 4
The first three Streets of Rage games are some of the best beat-'em-up games from the 16-bit era. The titles were a trademark franchise and so it's only natural that the company would try to do more with the property after the original trilogy. Streets of Rage 4 would put the series into 3D and was meant to be a formative Dreamcast title. The sequel was in production, but the then-president of Sega of America had apparently "never heard" of the franchise and shut it down. Now, finally, a Streets of Rage 4 is happening, but funnily enough has gone back to its 2D roots.
Half-Life’s relationship with Sega is definitely one of the sadder stories for the Dreamcast. Half-Life established itself on PCs as the shooter of the future, so naturally Sega was anxious to port it over to the Dreamcast and improve upon the experience. The Dreamcast's Half-Life had better graphics and extra content added to the base game. The title was essentially ready to ship to stores, but then was abruptly cancelled. Rumor has it that Sony paid for an exclusivity deal with the game so Sega would be unable to publish a copy, but it also may have had to do with the fact that the Dreamcast was already in its autumn years at this point.
15 Virtua Fighter 3
Before gaming had become so advanced that it basically made arcades irrelevant, it was a big deal when arcade ports made it to the home market. One of the Sega Saturn's major selling points is that it made arcade-perfect ports a reality. The Saturn nailed it with the first two Virtua Fighter games, but the third one slowed them down.
The sequel brought a lot more to the franchise and even though it was perpetually advertised to see release on the console before the end of its lifespan, it never happened. The new effects just likely couldn't be done justice on the Saturn, which is why the project pivoted over to the Dreamcast with Virtua Fighter 3TB. The game was a huge hit, but at that point the Saturn was in much bigger need of a winner.
14 Black & White
Black & White was a game changing title for PCs. The title revolves around raising communities that are either ruled by, or destroyed by, giant deities. Black & White would give players unprecedented levels of control to refine their experience. This was incredible on PCs, so shifting this world to the Dreamcast's servers looked like a homerun. Even though Black & White’s release was teased until the end of the Dreamcast (especially in Europe), it never got ready in time and had to be abandoned. It easily would have been one of the console's most popular online games if they could have made it happen.
13 Castlevania Resurrection
Konami didn't have the best relationship with Sega during the Dreamcast era, but there were still some team efforts that had gamers especially excited. Castlevania was one of Konami's biggest success stories and while it had made its mark on the 2D action-adventure genre, they wanted to take it further. Castlevania Resurrection would have done exactly that and looked at Simon Belmont's ancestors. It looked like an exciting take on the series, but once the writing was on the wall for the Dreamcast, Konami had little incentive to continue forward and finish.
12 Toejam & Earl III: Mission To Earth
It's weirder outside of the box titles like Toejam & Earl that helped Sega establish their identity in the first place. The duo led a pair of funky platformers for the Genesis, but word of their return was relatively quiet until news of a sequel for the Dreamcast was announced. Toejam & Earl III was ostensibly a 3D remake of the original game and even though a playable build of the title was near completion, the plug was pulled on it as the Dreamcast's death rattle started. A third Toejam & Earl title did eventually happen on the Xbox, but it was a wildly different experience than the tribute to the original that was developed for the Dreamcast.
11 Ecco II: Sentinels Of The Universe
The Ecco the Dolphin titles weren't for everyone, but those that loved them really loved them. The courageous dolphin and his exploits to keep nature safe were a big part of the Sega Genesis, and the character and series experienced a decent resurgence with the Dreamcast sequel, Ecco: Defender of the Future. Ecco's time on the Dreamcast was enough of a success to get work on a sequel rolling.
Sentinels of the Universe would have expanded Ecco's playground even further and improved upon the updates in the previous game. The sun was setting on the Dreamcast, which eventually led to this Ecco sequel being scrapped, but it got far enough along to have a tech demo available. Maybe another serene aquatic adventure is all that the Dreamcast needed to survive.
10 System Shock 2
System Shock and its sequel are still landmark titles for the PC and even now there are efforts to revive the property in a modern, remastered environment. Consoles would get their taste of this kind of shooter when the Bioshock games rolled around, but if the Dreamcast had its way it would have started the tradition earlier. Much like titles like Half-Life, there was a serious push to bring some of the PC's most influential shooters to consoles. In the case of System Shock 2, it didn't become a reality, but an impressive shooter like this might have helped buy the dying console some more time.
9 Heroes Of Might And Magic III
The Heroes of Might and Magic games were a formative turn-based strategy series for the PC. The series' publisher, The 3DO Company, tried their luck with porting the series to other systems, but faced limited support. The Game Boy Color surprisingly received a port of Heroes of Might and Magic II, which made the prospect of porting its sequel over to the Dreamcast seem possible. Development of the title moved away, but it was one of many titles that just weren't done in time and Sega feared that there wasn't enough of an audience left on the console to justify the release.
The Dreamcast had a number of weirder, exclusive survival horror titles like Blue Stinger and D2, but Agartha looked like it was trying to elevate the genre even higher. The title was set in a snowy mountain region with an atmosphere that wasn’t unlike The Thing. Agartha was supposed to amp up the psychological horror aspects and give the player a full world to carefully explore. Unfortunately, when the Dreamcast started going under in 2001, development teams started to get slashed and in spite of the enthusiasm around Agartha, it became another casualty.
7 Propeller Arena
The Dreamcast was the first console that really showed what was possible via online gaming. The Dreamcast offered a robust lineup of online titles, but there was a lot of excitement surrounding, Propeller Arena, an online multiplayer title that capitalized on air combat. The saddest thing about Propeller Arena’s cancellation is that the game was finished and ready to go.
However, a September 2001 release date was extremely problematic for a title that allowed air carriers to crash into skyscrapers. Sega tried to save face by delaying the release, but the Dreamcast was already on its way out and it didn't look worthwhile to get it on the shelves. That didn't stop a copy of the game from eventually winding up online.
6 Sonic Sports
Sonic Sports is certainly one of the largest urban legends surrounding Sega's earlier days. The plan was to release a sports title for the 32X that would have copied the structure of Acme All-Stars, except feature a wealth of Sonic characters instead (as well as other Sega favorites, like Ristar). Footage of this game was never seen, but it was teased in gaming mags to stir up more enthusiasm for the 32X. Sonic Sports never came to pass, but curiously the concept would get explored decades later in the Sega All-Stars series.
SmileBit’s Gunvalkyrie is a weird, explosive shooter that feels exactly like the kind of game that the Dreamcast embraces. The third-person shooter threw a lot at the player and was looking to revolutionize the genre with its ambitious control scheme. Gunvalkyrie was set to be played with a light gun in one hand, and a Dreamcast controller in the other, to provide a very unique control scheme.
Such a strategy could have ushered in a whole new line of shooters for the console, but it wasn’t meant to be. SmileBit would eventually release Gunvalkyrie on the Xbox, but it was a hindered version of the original experience and featured traditional controls, rather than something innovative.
4 Vectorman 3: Ultra
The Vectorman games were a fun surprise for the Sega Genesis, so it’s not surprising that development of a third title had begun on the Sega Saturn. Details on Vectorman 3: Ultra are scarce. It’s unclear if the game would have been predominantly 2D or 3D, but it was presumed to retain the sidescroller elements of the original titles.
Rumors around the game’s production ran in various gaming magazines and although no footage was seen, confirmation of its production would happen decades later when artwork from the game’s production document would end up on eBay for sale. Vectorman was never Sega’s most popular franchise, but a new title in the series could have been a huge win for the struggling Sega Saturn.
3 House Of The Dead III
House of the Dead II was a major success on the Dreamcast and with only a small fraction of titles actually making use of the console’s light gun, Sega was eager to port over the arcade title, House of the Dead III as soon as possible. Some issues were faced, but Sega still frequently advertised that House of the Dead III would eventually make its way to the Dreamcast.
It’s unclear how much of the port was finished, but Sega eventually decided to scrap the game and pivot towards a release on the Xbox. Several changes were made during this transition (including moving away from the cel-shaded look that was previously advertised) and although the Xbox port isn’t bad, House of the Dead III would have been a great final title for Sega’s last console.
2 Unreal Tournament
When the Dreamcast made it clear that it was serious about online gaming, there were a number of PC shooters that were eager to migrate to the console and experience a whole new audience. The Dreamcast was successful in many of these respects, such as their ports of Quake 3 Arena and Rainbow Six, but they also had plans to bring popular shooters like Unreal Tournament over to the Sega console.
Much like many of the titles that were developed during the later stages of the Dreamcast’s life cycle, Unreal Tournament was essentially finished, but Sega was already set on moving away from the Dreamcast and assessing what’s next. Another robust online shooter definitely would have bought the console a little more time.
1 Shenmue III
The Shenmue games were a swan song for Sega in many ways. The massive project that was more than a decade in the making was supposed to redefine adventure titles in terms of the freedom that was granted to players. The first two Shenmue titles were some of the Dreamcast's largest titles, but they still only told a part of the epic story that Yu Suzuki wanted to tell. Due to the discontinuation of the Dreamcast, the preliminary work on a follow-up Shenmue game were put on ice. Miraculously, nearly twenty years later, a new version of the game will finally see release and hopefully give die-hard fans some closure.
These are all of the Holy Grail of unreleased Sega games that might have made a major difference for the company, but there are even more that are out there. Sound off over your favorites in the comments below!