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Propeller Arena


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So I'm reading Uncle John's "Hindsight is 20/20" bathroom reader. Among the articles in "tech flops" is a thing about the Atari Lynx. But then there's this secion called "Unplayed video games". And in it is Propeller Arena for the Dreamcast.


"Flight simulators are another popular style of video gaming, providing players an exciting experience approximating taking controls of an airplane. The 2001 Sega Dreamcast game 'Propeller Arena' recreated the cockpit of a fighter jet. Not only did gamers get to pilot a plane, they could engage in dogfights with as many as 3 other players. Scheduled to hit stores in early fall 2001, 'Propeller Arena' was one of the last games planned for release on the Dreamcast, but it wound up never shipping to stores. Just a few days after the events of September 11, 2001, in which terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, Sega thought making 'Propeller Arena' a game about purposely crashing airplanes, seemed tasteless and offensive, so they pulled it."


Really? If its release date was only September 10, 2001, we would still have this game as an official release?

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Yes, that's somewhat accurate to what actually happened, and if its release date had been prior to 9/11 we would have it. However, it's not really accurate to say that Propeller Arena is a game that is "about purposely crashing airplanes." It's also not really accurate to say that it "puts you in the cockpit of a fighter jet." It's a third-person arena-style dogfight game showing various somewhat fantastical propeller plane designs, probably most similar to Crimson Skies for the Xbox.


The specific issue that was mentioned at the time is that one of the arenas was a downtown area with skyscrapers. Sega was concerned that there would be knuckleheads who made videos of themselves intentionally flying the planes into buildings and then it would be misrepresented as a game that somehow made light of 9/11.


It's really unfortunate because the game was completely finished, and it's particularly of interest as it's a project that was led by Yu Suzuki. You would think they could have simply removed the skyscraper arena and left the rest of the game intact; however, since Sega was in the process of transitioning to be a third-party publisher at the time, someone made the decision to just cancel the title and devote those resources elsewhere. It's also unfortunate that it's never been released even years later. However, it has been leaked and is fully playable.

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