10 years ago, a group of Australians working for what was then known as SEGA Studios Australia began working on a prototype for what could have been the future of the Golden Axe franchise. This week, everyone will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
In a release that’s coming as a surprise to the people who worked on it, Golden Axed: A Cancelled Prototype was primarily built by Sanatana Mishra and Tim Dawson, with help from other SEGA Studios Australia artists. And if those names sound familiar, it’s because they would go onto found Witch Beam, the Brisbane studio responsible for Assault Android Cactus and the zen-like Unpacking.
It’s being released this week to honour SEGA’s 60th Anniversary, according to the publisher, and it’s being released in its “janky” and “buggy” state. According to Mishra, him and Dawson spent two weeks on the prototype, and they were only allowed to send a single day designing the combat.
The work was done as part of SEGA Reborn, which was designed to be a series of 2.5D reboots of Streets of Rage, Altered Beast, and an endless runner version of Shinobi within “a universal hub world”. Another interesting note on the Steam page: The Eccentric Ape are credited as developers. That company says its a porting company based in Brisbane as well, and from some LinkedIn searches it looks like a studio filled with SEGA, Halfbrick, Gameloft and Blue Tongue Entertainment alumni.
An interesting note from Mishra on Twitter this morning was that SEGA could release more prototypes like Golden Axed:
I wonder if they’ll ever release the other prototypes we made…. also this game wasn’t canceled when we left sega, but the pitch had changed so drastically by those same higher ups at that point that I’m relatively glad it was canceled.
— Sanatana Mishra (@SanatanaMishra) October 14, 2020
Golden Axed: A Cancelled Prototype won’t be available forever, though. The Steam page says the game will be released on October 18, before being taken offline on 4:00am AEDT October 20.
Other things worth checking out as part of SEGA’s 60th birthday include Sonic The Hedgehog 2 — it’s free to own now — and an unusual free arcade game called Endless Zone. The latter is also an Australian production, from the same porting studio that’s credited on the Golden Axed prototype. There’s also a free Streets of Rage x Yakuza mashup called Streets of Kamurocho, which will only be available for a couple of days. A ton of banging games are going for a song as well, including Yakuza 0 for $6.24 and the supremely capable Endless Legend for under $9.
It makes me wonder — what other mysteries and surprises lie in the SEGA vault from their Australian days?