Peter Morawiec, coder of the Sonic 2 special stages and other kickass games like Comix Zone, worked on next-gen Sonic concepts around 1995, for the Saturn. These were entirely unrelated to Sonic Xtreme which was developed by another branch of STI at the time - but its interesting nonethless. He and Adrian Stephens coded a whipping fast sphere renderer engine, which they used to create a more realistic Sonic game in 3d. This was axed by Naka the Baka becase "Naka didn't like it". Peter then tried to save their work by putting it in the Saturn port of Sonic 3d, as a unique special stage. Unfortunatly, due to the constant "time" variable that gets in the way of all good things in Sonic games, it was cut and replaced by the remade Sonic 2 levels.
Title screen of Sonic Pool (click for hires ver).
The following pictures from "Sonic Pool" are credit of IceKnight.
In the words of Peter himself:
Sonic Saturn (or Sonic3D) was a different project, which Adrian and I started at STI Burbank in early 1996. It was supposed to be a 3D Sonic game for the Saturn â€“ those concept images I sent you previously are from that game. Adrian had a very nifty and fast spherical renderer going on for it, for things like bodies and heads. This game was going for a more realistic rendition of Sonicâ€™s world, but Naka didnâ€™t like it so the project was axed. (Ironically, the subsequent Sonic game for the Dreamcast was much more realistic). Following that, there was a slight chance of salvaging our tech and assets to create a bonus game for the Travelers Tales developed Sonic 3D Blast, although we will never know just how seriously this was ever considered. Nonetheless, we quickly whipped out a prototype, which we called Sonic Pool, but it never went past that.
What was it about? Peter himself explained it to us:
Yes, the idea was that Sonic would run around to position himself behind a ball, go into a stationary spin-dash, then you could 'aim' your direction and... let go -- the camera went overhead to show the resulting action as he smashes into other balls. The goal was to put all those balls away (into those portals) within one minute, or some such time limit. He could also push into the balls, but that wasn't very fast and thus wasn't the preferred way to play.
In later stages there were little enemies crawling around, making your job more difficult (Sonic would get hurt and lose rings upon colliding with them). There were some other arenas in the works, such as South-Western courtyard etc.
Referring to his old Sonic X-Treme project (not the one that appeared in some magazines), he told us something about the graphic routines used in Sonic 3D Pool:
Our sphere-renderer was used for things such as
Sonic's body parts (head,
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