Matrix Runner

From Sega Retro

Matrix Runner
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Developer: ZCT Systems Group
Genre: Adventure
Number of players: 1
Status of prototype(s): Unreleased
Peripheral(s): Sega VR

Matrix Runner is an unreleased Sega Mega Drive first-person adventure game for use with the Sega VR headset, developed by ZCT Systems Group and scheduled to be published by Sega.


The August/September 1993 issue of Sega Visions magazine described Matrix Runner as allowing users to "play [as] an elite superhacker in this unique cyberspace voyage. You have to explore the dark, winding databanks of the Matrix to solve the mysterious disappearance of your colleagues, knowing that you might be the next victim. In your travels, you will collide with strange semi-humans and vulture-like beings."[1]


Announced alongside the Sega VR at Summer CES 1993, the game was a cyberpunk adventure game with polygonal 3D graphics, where the player must solve a murder mystery by entering a cyberspace called the Matrix. It was reportedly inspired by Hideo Kojima's Snatcher.[2]

Matrix Runner‘s attempt at visualizing a cyberspace called the Matrix anticipates the 1999 film The Matrix.


Matrix Runner was developed as a demonstration of the Sega VR’s innovative virtual reality display. ZCT Systems Group began development on the game sometime in 1992, producing an early version of the game that demonstrated animated enemies of various shapes and power. This prototype was the basis for footage appearing in Sega of America promotional videos.[3]

Development continued and the game reached about two-thirds completion before the Sega VR project was cancelled. ZCT Systems Group was required by contract to destroy all code, video, test data, etc., and they did.[4]


Former owner of ZCT Systems Group, Inc., if you look closely at the cubes, you’ll notice Sega reversed the image as ZCT appears on the surface of the cubes.

We engineered and wrote the code for this demonstration.


We had demonstrated the matrix with animated opponents of various shapes and powers. Sega video taped this version and distributed a shortened version of it news outlets. We were beginning the game AI when Sega cancelled the program, so we were about 2/3 finished.

There was no relation to Free Runner.


When Sega cancelled the VR headset, we were required by contract to destroy all code, video, test data, etc., and we did.

However, I’ve since seen video of the Mateix [sic] Runner game on a few websites, but haven’t been able to locate them as of yet. The video shows the matrix with opponents, but under joystick control. As I recall, the headset was producing pitch, roll and yaw information at around .25 hertz which was much to slow for an action game of this nature. That, I believe, is why Sega cancelled the program as the headset was not only far more expensive than the console, it was also far too slow in transmitting pitch, roll and yaw that was necessary for a game of this nature.

ZCT Systems Group Owner Greg Zumwalt[5]



Promotional material

1993 Sega Catalog.pdf

US trade catalogue


Sega VR
Topics Technical specifications | History | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Ono-Sendai Corporation
Games Iron Hammer | Matrix Runner | Nuclear Rush | Outlaw Racing