Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Publisher: Not Released
Submitted by: Matt
I know it’s not customary for profiles of unreleased games to appear on these hallowed pages, but it’s not against the Retro Gamer terms and conditions and Sonic Edusoft is certainly a game that more people should be aware of.
Before anybody questions it – this isn’t a homebrew or fan-made affair. It’s a game that was in development at Manchester-based Tiertex for the Master System around the same as Sega were working on Sonic 2 and would have been published (or possibly co-published) by US Gold if it wasn’t for the fact that Sega didn’t show much interest. If it had been released though it would have been the first Sonic game to be developed outside of Japan.
How the existence, or rather non-existence, of Sonic Edusoft – which is an educational game designed for kids – came to surface is rather interesting. One of the programmers, who has always remained nameless, first uploaded information of it onto Wikipedia a few years ago. This was soon taken down and Sonic Edusoft was deemed a hoax. According to posts on the SMS Power Forum, he then e-mailed some screenshots taken from a playable ROM to Sonic fan sites where, again, it was seen as a hoax. It wasn’t until the ROM was dumped that people actually realised that it wasn’t a fake all along.
The game itself sports some nice chunky visuals and is based around a series of educational mini-games mostly involving maths and spelling questions. There are also three non-educational mini-games, presumably included to trick kids into wanting to play past the educational guff.
One of these mini-games is set in Green Hill Zone and simply involves avoiding objects that fall from the sky; another sees Sonic jumping on a moving trampoline. A set of islands, viewed from an isometric perspective, act as a hub with extra areas that can be accessed once a certain number of the educational mini-games have been beaten. Sonic is also able to jump in a helicopter to get to different parts of the island.
Sonic Edusoft must have been pretty much completed before being ditched – according to the programmer it received focus testing at a primary school in Didsbury, Manchester, where it was apparently quite well received.
I wonder if the kids realsed how lucky they were to get to play an unreleased and often forgotton Sonic game? All I got to play at school was some BBC game based on the bubonic plague…