A long-lost and big-budget Sega Saturn game has been unearthed, and it's a slice of saucy history from the '90s console wars. Sacred Pools was a game in development by SegaSoft, an American studio, and was one of those FMV titles that accumulated around the early stages of CD-ROM technology.
The appropriately named website Gaming Alexandria has managed to secure several CD-ROMs of the never-released project, from former SegaSoft employee David Gray. Alpha builds for the game on Saturn, PC and, surprisingly, Sony PlayStation have now been uploaded online.
The PlayStation port may have been down to Sega's lousy fortunes with the Saturn. It was always up against it when Sony arrived on the scene, and had been fatally undercut at 1995's E3 when PlayStation was announced to retail at $299 dollars ($100 cheaper than the Saturn).
SegaSoft was set up in 1996 with an eye on the future, as a PC-focused developer oriented towards more adult products: remember, at this time, Sega's reputation was as the 'edgy' alternative to Nintendo. This relative freedom was also what would allow it to develop for PlayStation.
Sacred Pools is set on the island of Amazonia, where various puzzles and several scantily clad ladies await you. It was also known as Rebellion and Amazonia, and had an at-the-time huge budget of between $2-3 million, mainly because it required so much live footage. The player character was going to go around the island, exploring a maze, collecting crystals and talking to various NPCs. It also features some amusingly terrible jump scares.
The game's selling point was going to be more the suggestion of erotic delights than anything overtly sexual. "There was no nudity," said cameraman Ross Judd in 2000 (opens in new tab), "although the costumes did get a bit racy." This was a tactic that had worked wonders with Night Trap, which had become a tabloid target thanks in part to its saucier elements and sold bucketloads off the back of it.
Unfortunately for Sacred Pools, the FMV trend was slowing down and Sega's own internal teams thought that the game wasn't very good. Despite a large E3 showing, the game missed its release date and then disappeared from Sega's release schedule. Shortly afterwards, Sega would end active Saturn development as it looked to transition to Dreamcast, and Sacred Pools was forgotten about.
Until now. You can watch several minutes of footage from the game above, and Gaming Alexandria has a long and detailed account of the game's development here.