Not so long ago, it was reported that Sega Australia was working on a reboot of the classic side-scrolling fighter Golden Axe, but the project was scrapped when the studio was closed down. That news was sad enough, but long-time Sega fans will be even more annoyed to learn that it wasn't the only remake of the classic series to be going through the company at the time.

Speaking to a former high-level Sega employee using the pseudonym Hideo Nanashi, esteemed video game journalist John Szczepaniak recently unearthed evidence that another Golden Axe title was in production at one point, and would have boasted hand-drawn 2D visuals similar to those seen in Vanillaware's gorgeous Odin Sphere and Muramasa.

The interview - which is featured in Szczepaniak's new book, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2 - briefly mentions the Sega Australia effort:

John Szczepaniak: What about unfinished games?

Hideo Nanashi: You know yourself there's been so many at Sega. All those Sonic prototypes, for the Mega Drive and later the Saturn. There's one you might not know about - a recent hi-res 2D remake of Golden Axe.

JS: YouTube has a leaked video of a Golden Axe remake by Sega Australia...

HN: No, no, this was different. I mean, I've seen the one you mean, but this one I'm talking about had graphics that looked like Odin Sphere. The characters were of that quality, and the animation had that same kind of jaunty fluidity. There's no videos anywhere.

JS: Was Vanillaware actually involved?

HN: No, no, it was internal, but followed that style. Hey, you want to see something? <pulls out smartphone, opens email, loads stunning artwork>

JS: MAJIDE?! <roughly translated: "You're kidding me!"> How do you have this?!

HN: A friend of mine at Sega of America was telling me about it. They were trying to get it green lit and started prototyping the remake. He was really upset all their work was just scrapped. The work didn't pan out. It was really unfortunate that it wasn't released. These graphics are going to be thrown away by Sega of America.

Sadly, no images or artwork for this version exist online.

The original Golden Axe was a side-scrolling fighter which appeared in arcades and on the Sega Mega Drive and Master System. Sequels followed - both in arcades and on home formats - and the franchise went quiet until the launch of the 2008 title Golden Axe: Beast Rider, which was panned by critics and sold poorly.

We'll be posting a review of Szczepaniak's brilliant new book soon.