Sonic Utopia, an open-world game based on Sega's popular blue hedgehog, looks to be one of the better installments in the storied franchise. That's quite the complement considering it is being developed entirely by a small team of dedicated fans.

Sega struck gold with the first few Sonic games for the Genesis, establishing the speedy hedgehog as its mascot in the process. Unfortunately, the transition from 2D, side-scrolling platformer to 3D-based, free-roamer hasn't done the franchise any favors.

It's a realization that prompted a small team of fans - The Great Lange, Murasaki Fox, Tpot and PicsAndPixels - to try their hand at creating an intuitive 3D-based Sonic game.

Everything you see in the trailer above - from the models and animations to the textures and music - was conceived and constructed from scratch. The team describes the game as still being in a very raw state but that hasn't stopped them from offering up a demo to download and play today (mirror here).

Based on what is shown in the trailer, I see a very large obstacle course that looks like loads of fun to play but may lack a sense of direction. I genuinely hope that isn't the case and perhaps more importantly, let's hope that Sega doesn't kill the project as Nintendo often does when fans tinker with their IP.

Sega over the summer revealed that a new Sonic title based on the gameplay mechanics and styling of early entries in the franchise was in the pipeline. Sonic Mania, as it's called, is set to arrive next spring. Pre-orders for the Collector's Edition for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC are now being accepted priced at $69.96.