Once Sega realized they had captured lightning in a bottle with 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog, the company commissioned all kinds of additional games that used the Sonic branding. Aside from sequels, we've seen plenty of spin-offs that use Sonic in unexpected ways such as Sonic Spinball and Sonic Shuffle, but one of those games - a block-dropping puzzle title for arcades - went unreleased and is only just recently seeing the light of day. Created by the mind behind Taito titles such as Bubble Bobble and Syvalion, the oddly named SegaSonic Bros. casts Sonic and his differently colored brothers as falling blocks that must be lined up on a 2D grid in a certain way in order to score big points. While still unavailable for sale, the game leaked out to the Internet earlier this year and is playable in the MAME arcade emulator. Hardcore Gaming 101 explains it.
SegaSonic Bros. was never released because it failed the location tests, held in late 1992, and Sega deemed it unfit for wide release. And after playing the game for a round or two, it’s easy to see why. For starters, the rules are a little complicated and difficult to explain, even though the pictures in the game’s tutorial mode makes it seem easy. The game also increases levels, and therefore speed, very quickly, which doesn’t give you much time to learn the game before becoming overwhelmed. One of the other issues is that the 2×2 blocks make it difficult to create straight lines – most of the time you’ll have two of the same color next to each other, so you’ll need to prioritize that color when building towards a loop. Standalone colors are useful for finishing loops, but otherwise will just become blocked with the color next to it.
The game seems complicated and not much fun for the arcade setting, plus it doesn't really need to use Sonic at all. Just about any brand could have been jammed into the basic game without impacting how it plays. It feels like it would have been more at home on the Game Gear as a competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy pack-in title, Tetris. Still, hindsight in always 20/20 and Sega made the right call by canning this one. Fortunately, the game is around now if you're eager to try it and explore another lost corner of Sonic history.