Burning Rangers
Image: Sega

Sonic Team's Burning Rangers is one of the Sega Saturn's best titles, so it's easy to understand why content cut from the final release would be of interest to fans.

An alpha version of the game has already been found and preserved, but Bo Bayles stumbled across an online post from 2005 which hinted that a beta iteration of the game might be out there somewhere.

He reached out to the author, iGREKKESS, and was amazed to discover that they still had the disc which contained the prototype of the game. Even more amazing is the fact that this beta version – which is dated 1998-01-03, which puts it a few weeks before the release version went gold – contains a special 'Versus' mode which is missing from the retail edition of Burning Rangers.

According to Bayles, this version is "mostly complete" but is still unfinished; it's missing some features and has a few bugs. Development debugging features are also switched on. Interestingly, this version appears to match the one previewed in the UK's Official Sega Saturn Magazine, issue 30.

In that particular issue, the mode was described thusly:

As we speculated a couple of months previously, the two-player mode takes the form of a Virtual-On style battle, with the two protagonists engaging in aerial combat in a vast metallic arena... Quite how this will work in practice we're not quite yet sure, as the bugs in our pre-production version prohibit any prolonged gameplay.

According to Bayles, "the whole thing is pretty barebones and glitchy. You can see why they cut it!"

Released in 1998, Burning Rangers utilised the same game engine as NiGHTS, another Sonic Team Saturn game. It was produced by Yuji Naka, who has more recently hit the headlines following his formal charge on the count of insider trading.

[source bbayles.com]