Sonic 3D Blast
|Sonic 3D Blast|
|Composer(s)||Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
Sega Saturn & Microsoft Windows
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Distribution||Cartridge, CD-ROM, download|
Sonic 3D Blast, known as Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (ソニック３Ｄ フリッキーアイランド Sonikku Surīdī Furikkī Airando?) in Japan and Europe, is an isometric platform game and the second 3D game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, after Sonic the Fighters. It was developed in the United Kingdom by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega. Primarily developed as the last Sonic game for the Sega Genesis, it was later ported to the Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows, and later re-released on many compilations and digital distribution platforms as well.
A separate game, titled Sonic Blast, was also released for the Sega Game Gear in the same year. However, much like the Game Gear versions of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, they are similarly titled but decidedly different games.
In contrast to the other Sonic games released for the Sega Genesis, which were 2D sidescrolling platformers, this game is played from an isometric viewpoint in a 2D environment and uses pre-rendered 3D sprites, displaying pseudo-3D graphics.
In the game, Doctor Robotnik discovers mysterious birds called flickies that live on an island in an alternate dimension. He learns that they can travel anywhere using large rings, so he decides to exploit them by turning them into robots to help him search for the Chaos Emeralds. Sonic must find and destroy these robots located around the zones, and bring the flickies inside them to large rings. Once he collects all five flickies from each section of an Act, he is either further advanced into the Act, or taken to the next Act. Every Zone has three Acts, 2 involving standard levels, and the third Act being a boss fight against Robotnik, without any flicky-collecting involved.
If Sonic or the flickies are hit by an obstacle or enemy, the flickies scatter. Each individual flicky's color determines how it behaves. Blue and pink/orange ones make an effort to find Sonic, while green and red ones wander off at random, the latter even jumping about, making them harder to re-collect.
As in previous Sega Genesis Sonic games, special stages are the means to collecting the Chaos Emeralds. In order to access these stages, either Knuckles or Tails must be located within the regular levels. When stood next to, they take all the rings currently in Sonic's possession. If Sonic has over fifty rings, or supplies them with fifty rings or more with multiple visits, he is warped to a special stage.
There are three different versions of the special stages among the different versions of the game, but all three involve the same basic premise as the special stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic runs down a pre-set path and must collect rings while avoiding obstacles that, when run into, make him lose rings. A certain number of preset rings need to be obtained to continue through the stage, and ultimately be able to make it to the end and be rewarded with a Chaos Emerald. If all 7 Chaos Emeralds are collected, the Special Stages can still be played for extra lives.
Collecting all 7 of the Chaos Emeralds is the only way to reach the "Final Fight" level, consisting of the final boss fight and good ending of the game.
The Sega Saturn port of the game was used as a last resort and back up plan to release a Sonic game for Christmas 1996 after the cancellation of Sonic X-treme. Sonic Team filled in for development of the special stage in the Saturn version of the game.
The soundtrack for the Sega Genesis version was composed by Tatsuyuki Maeda, Seirou Okamoto, Jun Senoue, and Masaru Setsumaru, the latter two would later write music for Sonic Adventure in 1998, while Maeda would do sound effects. Several incidental themes are reused from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
The Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows versions' soundtrack was composed by Richard Jacques, and is stored as Red Book audio. This soundtrack features the song "You're My Hero" performed by Debbie Morris, which is played during the end credits.
Alternate versions and ports
Sega Saturn version
In addition to the original Sega Genesis version, Sonic 3D was also available for the Sega Saturn to make up for the cancellation of Sonic X-treme, which was intended to be the Sega Saturn's big game for the 1996 holiday season. The game was ported in seven weeks, during development of the Sega Genesis version. It features a higher quality opening video, higher quality graphics and an entirely new, CD audio soundtrack composed by Richard Jacques. It also contains a different special stage with polygonal graphics, developed separately by Sonic Team.
Microsoft Windows version
A port of the Sega Saturn version was released for Microsoft Windows in 1997. It contains the same videos and soundtrack, but lacks some of the Sega Saturn's graphical upgrades, such as the fog visual effects. Features exclusive to this version include the ability to save one's progress in the game, and a third version of the special stage that mixes the 2D sprites from the Sega Genesis version with the basic 3D gameplay of the Sega Saturn version.
Compilations that include the game are Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube, Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows, and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The version that is included in these compilations is the Sega Genesis version.
The Sega Genesis version was criticized for its poor controls in conjunction with the isometric viewpoint, and change in the previous Sonic formula. IGN gave it a 6/10, stating that "you can't deny that the game's core design is repetitive and, ultimately, kind of bland. The sense of speed and intense action that Sonic's name was built on is absent here, replaced by, essentially, a looping, lazy fetchquest." GameSpot criticized that "...wandering around the levels looking for the last enemy gets boring very quickly. Had this game been more action oriented, with more enemies and much faster gameplay, it would have truly lived up to the Sonic name" Entertainment Weekly was harder on the Sega Saturn version than the Sega Genesis version of the game, claiming that "while 3D Blast is super by 16-bit standards, it falls flat on Sega Saturn, where 32-bit games with far more sophisticated 3-D graphics and gameplay are the norm."
In retrospect, ScrewAttack ranked it #5 in its list of worst Sonic games of calling the game "a 2-D overhead with a bad angle". Conversely, 1UP.com would describe the game as "much better than you might be led to believe by the negative reviews it garnered back in the day."
Certain tracks from the game were later arranged for Sonic Adventure in 1998; composer Jun Senoue stated he included those tracks because he personally enjoyed them, but they hadn't widely been heard, as he only composed the music for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version, which was not released in Japan. Additionally, a remixed version of the "special stage" song appeared in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations in 2011.
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