In the parallel universe where the Sonic X-Treme team was allowed to use the NiGHTS into Dreams engine and could complete their game, maybe we could’ve seen a decent halfway point between Sonic in X-mas NiGHTS and Sonic Jam.
As a kid, I was so thirsty for a 3D Sonic during the Saturn era, but thinking back on it now, the arcade speedrun-y NiGHTS with its beautifully surreal and minimalist story was much more enriching for my youth. I didn’t experience Burning Rangers until way later when I was in college, but that too would’ve been pretty satisfying.
I didn’t appreciate BR enough - it has a charming scifi but grounded future setting, plus the NiGHTS-style gameplay loop but using the tech from the grounded segments with Claris/Elliot, but also now with a gun to shoot fires. It’s a good game dev evolution of NiGHTS both in technology and world building, and I can totally see how they went from a small game like NiGHTS to BR and eventually to huge, expansive titles like Sonic Adventure and ultimately, Sonic Team’s pièce de résistance, Phantasy Star Online.
Anyway, that’s my meandering thoughts. If Sonic the Fighters came out for the Saturn, I would’ve been 100000% satisfied without having a “real” 3d Sonic game though.
Sonic the Fighter is so good and charming and the perfect game for that time. I mean, if VF Kids did well enough in that era, why not Sonic the Fighters????? But the Saturn probably couldn’t run it that smoothly without the full engineering genius of AM2 behind it to port it, and they were too busy working on VF3 and ultimately Shenmue, which locked all the talent and brainpower of Sega and then bankrupted them, but that’s a whole other thread.