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Golden Axed!

SEGA celebrates its 60th anniversary by releasing a cancelled Golden Axe reboot on Steam, complete with a tongue-in-cheek title sequence and apologies for its bugs and jankiness. The developer cries foul and tells the story behind its chaotic production.

On Steam

  • For 60th anniversary, SEGA added a listing to steam: Golden Axed: A cancelled prototype
  • Description summary: At beginning of decade, SEGA Australia worked on classic IP reboots. Project called “SEGA Reborn”
  • SEGA studios Australia was shut down in 2013, Reborn project cancelled
  • As “special treat,” SEGA is releasing prototype for free, says they reached out to ‘some of the original dev team from the project.”

On Twitter

Tim Dawson, @IronicAccount

  • Helped create Assault Android Cactus, a game I love
  • Said he was surprised to learn SEGA was releasing a prototype he produced in 2013 under crunch conditions
  • Paraphrasing: project was a nightmare. Never heard from anyone about it. Just suddenly it was released with their credits removed and a joke title sequence added
  • Says he and a partner had done a prototype for “the studio” before, unclear if that’s SEGA Studios Australia
  • A producer asked them to do a vertical slice demo for an internal pitch.
  • They were only given two weeks.
  • Said he had a team of artists, animators, and sound designers
  • Talks about a “lead designer who thought he was designing it”
    • This is confusing. OP’s role unclear. Why wouldn’t lead designer design it?
  • Says “he” (lead designer?) invented arbitrary scheduling challenges
  • Says the “lead” (designer?) wanted to branch the repository and do a Streets of Rage demo at the same time.
    • Devils advocate: I can kinda see it.
  • Says SEGA initially called demo a janky, buggy artifact of its time on steam.
  • He says this was a surprise to everyone he knows who worked on it.
  • There’s still room for both sides to be telling the truth.

SEGA responds

  • Polygon: SEGA apologizes for calling crunchborne Golden Axe game “janky” and “buggy”
  • Santana Mishra is quoted saying Santana “was in charge of design,” and Tim programmed the game from scratch, so they don’t know what SEGA means by they “reached out to the original team.”
  • Tim acknowledges a larger team, Santana was “in charge of design.” Argument still not air tight. They may have very well done most of the work, but they apparently weren’t the whole team
  • SEGA: We certainly didn’t mean to dredge up painful memories for Tim and co. (paraphrasing) or appear disrespectful. We have removed the line from the steam copy, we were talking about our build we ported to PC, not the original work.
  • Plausible deniability – otherwise this was super mean-spirited

In conclusion

  • I like Tim’s work, and I don’t blame him for having bad memories.
  • I would never have agreed to try this in two weeks. I have absolutely turned down huge projects because the timeline was unreasonable.
  • He was caught up in triple-A business as usual. This is how it goes.
  • I’m sure SEGA also didn’t enjoy their studio shutting down and their projects tanking.
  • I think the person they reached out to was probably the producers, or they just had different contacts for the team.
  • This is the game industry version of ghostwriting
  • SEGA is generally pretty cool, they’re just a big sluggish mess of a company. They’ve been pretty cool about Dreamcast homebrew and fan game support
  • Tim and team got their new work back in the spotlight
  • It’s fine to talk about what went wrong
  • The people at SEGA who released this probably had no idea what happened in 2013
  • Subcontracting is good work, but it isn’t as glamorous as other game development work.

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By Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell is an independent game developer and freelance journalist. He is the founder of CodeWritePlay where he produces and hosts the GameDev Breakdown and GameDev Breakdown Radio podcasts. Follow him @Mechatodzilla.

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