Sonic’s Edusoft

Released: Unreleased
Format: Sega Master System

Frequent Games Asylum readers may be questioning why we’ve picked a Sonic game twice in a row for our monthly retro gaming feature. Although it’s true that we do have a soft spot for the ‘hog, the story behind the unreleased Sonic’s Edusoft (sometimes referred to as Sonic Edusoft) is a rather curious one that deserves to be told.

It’s a game that was very much made on a whim. After the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Manchester-based Tiertex – who handled the Master System versions of Paperboy and Gauntlet – started work on an educational Sonic game aimed at 5 years olds and hoped that Sega would take a shine to it and snap it up.

Unfortunately for Tiertex, Sega simply weren’t interested. If this wasn’t the case then it would likely have been released between Sonic 1 and Sonic 2.

The playable ROM that’s available online suggests that development was pretty much finished. One of the programmers even said – via a forum post on SMS Power – that it even got as far as being play-tested at a local school. We wonder if those children know how lucky they were to get to play an unreleased Sonic game?

The aforementioned programmer has always remained nameless but has been more than willing to share Sonic Edusoft’s story. He originally added information about its existence to Wikipedia, only for it to be deemed a hoax. He then e-mailed a few screenshots to various Sonic fansites where, once again, fans refused to believe it was a real game. It wasn’t until the ROM was dumped online that people realised that their proverbial legs weren’t being pulled.

The game itself had some nice chunky visuals, and was based around a series of mini-games mostly involving maths and spelling. There were also three non-educational mini-games, presumably included to trick kids into wanting to play past the educational guff.

One of these mini-games was set in Green Hill Zone and simply involved avoiding objects that fell from the sky, while another saw Sonic jumping on a moving trampoline. A set of islands, viewed from an isometric perspective, acted as a hub, with extra areas that could be accessed once a certain number of the educational mini-games have been beaten. Sonic was also able to jump in a helicopter to get to different parts of the island. It was all very simple stuff, as you’d expect from a game aimed at children.

The fact that the NES had quite a few educational games similar to this would suggest that there was a market for such a thing. Our line of thought is that Sega put a lot of focus and attention into Sonic having a cool image, and perhaps thought that an educational game may have put a damper on that. Sega may have also been worried that it would divert attention away from Sonic 2, a game crucial in their strategy to winning the ’90s console war.

As the programmer said himself, it’s hard to say if Sonic’s Eudsoft should be classed as either an unofficial or unlicensed game. Tiertex started development on it without acquiring the Sonic license beforehand, but it doesn’t seem right to file it next to the many fan-made Sonic games that are available, as Tiertex were a very well known developer at the time. It’s a tricky one to pigeonhole, that’s for sure.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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  • Wow! Didn’t know a thing about this, great article game asylum! I probably would have paid more attention to Sonic minigames than anything else during school..

  • Hiya! moobit from GamerDads Retrocast here. :) Excellent article guys – I genuine didn’t know about this game existing – I can’t believe it! :) Thanks for bringing this to all retroheads attention!

  • Glad you enjoyed the article, guys. I think that’s us done for Sonic articles now though.

    Or at least until November 24th…

  • Knew about Edusoft, Educational games were a bit big in the early 90’s – by mid 90’s games like “Mario is Missing” and the like were ported to PC and I recall many early PC titles revolving around learning, there were some really great games made out of that era actually, sad it died out

    I still need to play Edusoft, Sega did make an educational Sonic title later for PC in 98 – Sonic’s Schoolhouse. Which….hasn’t aged very well XD

  • I nearly added a paragraph about Sonic’s Game World on the Sega Pico but upon closer inspection it would appear it wasn’t an educational game.

    Thanks for reminding me of Sonic’s Schoolhouse though. I guess by 1994 Sega saw things like this more viable for the ‘hog to star in.

  • Depends how many copys they had in stock, for example when wtrowloohs was around we only had 3 copys of sonic gems collection and 4 copys of sonic heroes, once they were brought we mark it as sold out. so just because its marked sold out doesnt mean its selling well, because they might have had just 1 ,2 or 5 copys since most stores get up to 5 or 10 copys for odd reasons.dont make the mistake i did on sonic heroes lol i saw it say sold out and was saying that its selling well meaning its a great game, turns out they only had 2 copys and thats why it was sold out boy i felt stupid lol.Plus toysrus normally have up to 5 copys only within the store until the next week they get another 5.

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