A long time ago, in a far away country, a team of Sega developers started work on a collection of 2.5D remakes of some of the company’s classic series. The project was cancelled and never released, but Sega this week just decided fuck it, and released the Golden Axe one on Steam anyway.
Called Golden Axed: A Cancelled Prototype, it drags up the long-lost work of Sega Studios Australia, a developer that was closed back in 2013. Sega’s official description of the game at the time they listed it yesterday is...odd.
On the occasion of SEGA’s 60th Anniversary, as a special treat to say “Thank You!” to our fans, SEGA is releasing a working prototype of Golden Axe Reborn, a single level created as proof-of-concept, or what’s known in the industry as a “vertical slice.” We’ve dubbed it, tongue in cheek, as “Golden Axed.”
Golden Axed may be janky, may be buggy, may be an artifact of its time, but it offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been, and a rare peek behind the curtain at the sometimes tumultuous world of video game development.
We reached out to some of the original development team to bring this dusty gem to light, and they are proud that this project could be revived in some form to be shared with you, the fans.
Odd because this doesn’t happen very often, yes, but also because only a handful of people worked on the game, and of the two most important—original programmer Tim Dawson and designer Sanatana Mishra—both told Kotaku they were never contacted by Sega, and the first they heard of the demo being released was seeing it on Steam yesterday.
What’s even odder is that while Sega initially thought it was funny to describe the demo as “janky” and an “artifact of its time”, Dawson says the project’s short lifespan was basically his “personal nexus of nightmare hours, inept management, industry realisations and heroics achieved with a small team under unreasonable conditions, so it’s an odd feeling to see it surface eight years later without context, credits and with a joke title sequence.”
As a result, Sega have issued a statement to RPS saying, “We certainly didn’t mean to dredge up painful memories for Mr. Dawson and his former colleagues or appear disrespectful,” and as a result the game’s Steam listing has “removed the line from the Steam copy that could have been taken as a slur on the development and [we] would like to reassure everyone that it was intended as a comment on the build we had ported to PC, not the quality of the original work.”
If after all this you still want to check it out—now armed with the knowledge of what it was supposed to be and how it came about—Golden Axed is available on Steam for a limited time from October 18.