(This was a joint release between us and our good friends at Gaming Alexandria!)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… A prototype simply called “Spike” was created by John Brandstetter at Sega of America for the upcoming Sega Neptune. It would at some point be pitched as Star Wars – Rebel Strike for the Sega Saturn. Ultimately the idea was canned and never progressed past the one level prototype, but luckily an anonymous person came into possession of the discs and design documents to allow us to release the prototype and scans of the pitch documents.
There are little concrete details on the prototype and its background, but we can make some educated guesses about it. John Brandstetter was the producer of the Sega 32X port of Star Wars Arcade and is the author of the pitch materials. Having prior experience with the license, the team must have assumed that they could wrangle a Star Wars game in 3D. One can see that the pitch as a whole seems quite rushed as there are various typos and misspellings throughout the pitch document in addition to only four fleshed out level concepts, indicating a very tight timeframe.
Unfortunately by that time it was pitched it may have been impossible for Sega to obtain the license for the concept. This is possibly due to LucasArts’ relationship with Nintendo as around this time a Star Wars game was mentioned as an upcoming title for the N64 (what would eventually become Shadows of the Empire). Possibly the dismantling of Sega’s American development divisions in the Saturn era was more to blame. Interestingly the game was discussed in a small snippet in the 1995 Computer and Video Games Issue 161 as you can see below, so it was at least somewhat known about at the time.
Was the Spike prototype an original game idea that was going to be its own potential release or was it spun up to pitch Star Wars – Rebel Strike? There’s no confirmation one way or the other, but there were quite a few assets created for this prototype as you can see in the scanned documents. It is interesting to note that the actual game itself seems to have few definitively Star Wars elements, taking on a generic futuristic look (the landspeeder doesn’t even look right). Why Sega did not continue to develop this pitch in a new direction is also unknown. From the pitch material, the game was broadly pitched as a game of vehicular combat based on the SGL demos which came with the Saturn SDK called biplane and driving2 which you can download them here and here. The mechanics of the landspeeder were also likely inspired if not directly lifted from these demos as they look and control very similarly. More reasons to think this demo was spun up in a rush.
You can download high quality scans for the packaging here.