Rejected Sonic Extreme Concept Became Sonic Riders, Claims US Developer

The concept for rejected spinoff Sonic Extreme was lifted by Sonic Team years later to develop Sonic Riders internally, claims a US developer responsible for pitching the early-2000s Xbox demo to SEGA.

Former President of US third party developer Vision Scape, Matt McDonald, revealed in a new video by Unseen64 that Yuji Naka (then leader of Sonic Team) was ‘hugely impressed’ with the pitch for Sonic Extreme, which saw Sonic and Shadow perform gnarly tricks on hoverboards. You can read more about it here, when the Xbox demo was uncovered back in 2011. Videos from back then can be seen here, too.

What we didn’t know was that Vision Scape was able to meet with SEGA about the project after working with the company on Sonic Heroes, where McDonald and team worked on the game’s CGI cutscenes. Using assets from internal Sonic Team libraries available to them, they were able to produce a compelling proof of concept and secure a meeting with the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog for approval.

Naka was, reportedly, so enthusiastic about the pitch that he declared that Sonic Team and Vision Scape would be moving forward with the project. As the video below explains, all communications with the US developer were shortly cut off. Then, two years later, Sonic Riders appeared – bearing “striking” similarities to the Extreme demo.

The video below draws a comparison between Sonic Extreme and Sonic Riders, and quotes McDonald as saying he was “certain that SEGA essentially took the rough concept that they presented in Sonic Extreme and made it themselves”.

Watch the video below to learn more of the history of the game and why it never saw the light of day! It’s full of interesting nuggets of info.

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Adam Tuff

With a decade under his belt, Adam is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Adam is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.


  1. Very interesting story there. While I like extreme for what seems to be more laid back freestyle play, riders seems to be more evolutionary of extreme, or at least more in line wtih what we expect from derivatives of the main series, i.e racing games and other multiplayer experiences. Both seem good on their own merits though and I probably would’ve played extreme if it ever came out.

    1. The concept of Sonic Extreme was, but not so much the story of it’s production and possible connection to Riders.

      1. Then I am having déjà v aswell. I swear the connection was already made and read about it.

    2. I was about to say the same thing. I could of sworn I read somewhere that extreme was the concept that lead to riders

  2. Maybe? I think while they might have taken the basic concept of “Sonic on a hoverboard” from Extreme, they were able to put their own spin on it to the point that it feels like its own thing. Riders seems much faster paced with much more of an emphasis on the racing aspect, while Extreme looks to be more of a skating game with a Sonic edge. I likely would have enjoyed both games had Extreme come out.

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