In the mid-90s, with the Saturn bombing and the video game landscape changing rapidly, Sega rolled the dice and made a few risky bets. One of those was, uh, sinking $3 million into the creation of an adult-oriented FMV game called Sacred Pools that was so bad it ended up being binned before it was ever released.
Now, though, in 2022, we can play it! Thanks to Gaming Alexandria, who not only got hold of the game but have made it available to download and play on emulators, we can all get the chance to, if not enjoy, then at least experience this lost piece of video game history.
Sacred Pools went into development in 1996, as the FMV craze was already winding down, so by the time it was ready for its public showings and impending release the market’s appetite for the genre had—thanks to an endless parade of low-effort dogshit—soured.
While targeted at adults, and described as an “erotic thriller”, the game didn’t feature any footage that was outright sexual; there was no full nudity shown, just some “racy” costumes and “scantily clad women”, though this was enough to allow Sega’s marketing team to focus on the game’s “beautiful creatures” in a trailer.
Sacred Pools was in development for the Saturn, PC, PlayStation and Mac, but would never be released on any of them. After a showing at E3 in 1996 which was panned by the press, arriving as it did at the tail end of the FMV craze, “the game repeatedly missed its release date and quietly disappeared from the schedule by mid-1997. SegaSoft had given up on the game, and no amount of money or parties could fix it.”
For 25 years that was pretty much all the public had ever seen or known about the game, until Gaming Alexandria managed to get hold of “alpha builds” of Sacred Pools for all of its platforms from David Gray, a former associate producer on the game who had been given the discs as a “parting gift” when he left SegaSoft in 1999. Those builds are now available for download, but if you’d rather just watch a little footage instead, here’s the first few minutes of the game in action:
To read more about the game, its development and how these copies were obtained, you should definitely check out Gaming Alexandria’s feature, which goes into a lot more detail—like Hole playing at parties, and Hollywood veterans helping in production—than you’d expect for a relatively obscure title like this.