Lost Sega FMV game “The Sacred Pools” discovered; now available to download and try

An unreleased Segasoft game named “The Sacred Pools” has finally been found and dumped online for all to try. According to The Gaming Alexandria, who made and released this discovery, The Sacred Pools was developed as an “Erotic Thriller” sci-fi FMV (Full-Motion Video) game for Sega Saturn, PC, and PlayStation (I did not stutter, thank you). It was actually shown at E3 in 1996, where it was slammed by press, causing Segasoft to quietly shelve the game despite all the work that was already done on it. Now, in late 2022, the game was released online with help from former Sega of America employees Joe Cain (Game tester) and David Grey (Associate producer on The Sacred Pools). The latter had held onto several CD-Roms, each containing alpha builds of the game for Saturn, PlayStation, and PC, which were all thankfully preserved online with no trouble and now playable on some emulators and on real hardware.

See more of the brief history on this game after the break.

If you’ve never heard of Segasoft, we do have an article on the defunct development studio on Sega Retro. In short, they were formed in 1996 to replace Sega of America’s usual development studios such as Sega Technical Institute. Their focus was not only on Saturn, but also on expanding into other platforms, most notably PC gaming. They released several games for Windows 95/98, such as Rocket Jockey, Lose Your Marbles, and Net Fighter, as well as a few well known Saturn games like Three Dirty Dwarves, Mr. Bones, and Scud: The Disposable Assassin, before their closure in 2000.

The Sacred Pools was meant to be an exploration/action based FMV adventure for adults, though it is not known to feature full frontal nudity or sex scenes. The game dropped you into an alien world called Amazonia and tasked you with finding special magic crystals. With those crystals gone, the once tranquil land of Amazonia became overrun with debauchery. The game featured many attractive actors in sensual fantasy outfits. It was always meant to be risqué, but would stop just short of being straight up pornographic. Segasoft was on producing duties, Sega Studios LA in Beverly Hills, CA did the filming, and The Code Monkeys handled programming. The Code Monkeys had previous FMV experience, developing Tomcat Alley, Wirehead, and Surgical Strike for Sega CD. 

The Sacred Pools character “Spider”, portrayed by actress Natasha Pavlovich

All developers involved touted a special new FMV structure called VNRS, or “Virtual Navigation in Real-Space”, to make the game feel less scripted and more free-roaming and immersive than FMV games were known to be. It was structured like a maze, where you would move in first person toward any given direction through hallways and doors, all without any cuts to the video feed. Along the way there were several cryptic puzzles and signs and various clues hidden about for those puzzles. You would also be occasionally surprised by an enemy jumping out in front of you and attacking you.

Dropping you into such an alien setting without much direction however, the game feels a bit too cryptic. I can’t say I’m too surprised players who tried the game during development were not impressed. Never mind the fact that FMV games were already seen as a fad on it’s way out in 1996, with 3D gaming being the desired direction of the industry and of players by then. It is admittedly admirable of them to at least try to break new ground in order to make their game more immersive than FMV was before. However, even if it had gone over better with press, the game was planned to release in 1997, and by then Bernie “Saturn is not our future” Stolar would’ve taken over as CEO of Sega of America and begun slowing down Sega Saturn development and fully committing the western side of the company to PC development while preparing for the future with Sega Dreamcast. Stolar would’ve likely called for the game’s cancellation as a result since everyone agreed there wasn’t much of a future for FMV games anyway.

Regardless of whether the concept of the game had potential or not, The Sacred Pools is still a part of video game history and for it to be forever lost to time would still be a crying shame. Too much hard work had been put into the game for nobody to ever see any of it again. Fortunately, as stated before the break, the alpha version of the game is now available for you to download on The Gaming Alexandria’s page to try it for yourself. There, you can also read much more about the history of both The Sacred Pools’s development and on Segasoft. 

What do you think about this discovery? Do you think the idea behind this game had legs, or was it just the women in the game who had legs? Would it at least have had the potential to be as widely controversial as Night Trap before it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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