Terrorist Victim - Propeller Arena: Aviation Battle Online
Today, we look back with fond remembrance and regret at the potential greatness that was snuffed from existence, the premature death of Propeller Arena: Aviation Battle Online.
Propeller Arena was one of the upcoming shining stars for the Dreamcast. It offered fast, arcade-like action, full 3D flying and aerial combat, online gameplay and voice chat, complete with a microphone shipped with every copy of the game. It was really pushing the online capabilities of the Dreamcast years before Xbox Live got off the ground, with online play and integrated audio smack-talking. The game's crazy back-and forth action played quite a lot like a Mario Kart in the skies.
What could possibly go wrong?
September 11th, 2001.
A week after the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Sega came forth with an announcement that they were indefinitely postponing the release of their upcoming online dog-fighting game.
"Sega Corporation was greatly saddened to learn of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those injured or who lost their lives in the horrific events.
At this time, we have decided to postpone shipment of 'Propeller Arena' for Dreamcast. Although the game content does not deal with terrorism in any way, it is possible for a determined individual to deliberately play the game in a manner that generates images similar to those we have seen on the news. We want to avoid causing any additional grief to those involved in this week's tragedy and feel this is an appropriate action.
Again, our hearts go out to those affected by Tuesday's tragic events."
The world was a very different place than the week before. There was no doubt that Sega did the honorable and respectable thing, they pulled a product that was about to launch to a world that was overly sensitive. In retrospect, one can wonder what would happen if Propeller Arena was a game that was in the hands of a company with less scruples such as Rockstar Games; a company known to thrive on controversy and the hype it creates. No doubt, Sega could have hyped the fact that you could crash airplanes into buildings and created a lot of stir about their upcoming title. Instead, they quietly shelved the product, never to have it resurface.
What is the future of Propeller Arena: Aviation Battle Online? Can we expect to see the game revived on one of the newer consoles, or on the 3D-capable, Internet-ready handhelds of today? Or is Propeller Arena going to be relegated to the status of vaporware, to live on only in the minds of the developers and the hearts of gamers?
If you are curious and diligent, you can find copies of the games online that will run on unmodified Dreamcasts. From the downloadable copies, it is easy to see that the game was complete and ready to ship before the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001. Sadly, it is also easy to see that the game was polished and tons of fun; fun that we as gamers will never know.
SegaFans has a nice timeline detailing the development and cancellation of Propeller Arena along with a great collection of art from the game.
Play:Right hosts a series of great Propeller Arena screenshots. Visually, the game holds its own against current generation titles.