Sonic 3D Blast
|Sonic 3D Blast|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Distribution||Cartridge, CD-ROM, download|
Sonic 3D Blast (Japanese: ソニック３Ｄブラスト Hepburn: Sonikku Surīdī Burasuto?), also 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?), is an isometric platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was the first of two Sonic titles developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega, the second later being Sonic R. Primarily developed as the last Sonic game for the Sega Genesis, it was later ported to the Sega Saturn as a replacement for the cancelled Sonic X-Treme project. The title would later be released on Microsoft Windows and numerous Sonic themed 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, the special stages are the means to collecting the Chaos Emeralds, which in turn allows the player to play the last boss battle and true ending of the game. To access these stages, the player must find Knuckles or Tails hidden within a level, and stand next to them with at least 50 rings collected. Doing so allows the player to exchange the rings in order for the chance to play the game's 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. The camera shifts to behind Sonic, and he runs down a preset path and must collect rings while avoiding obstacles that, when run into, make him lose rings. A certain number of 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 game was created as the last Sonic game to be released for the Sega Genesis. 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 Jun Senoue and Tatsuyuki Maeda, with Masaru Setsumaru and Seirou Okamoto doing the final boss and staff roll themes respectively. The Sega Saturn version's soundtrack was composed by Richard Jacques, and is stored as Mixed Mode audio, giving it CD-quality 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 made available for the Sega Saturn to make up for the cancellation of Sonic X-treme, which was intended to be the Sega Saturn's killer application for the 1996 holiday season. The game was ported in seven weeks, during development of the Sega Genesis version. While it does feature some slight graphical upgrades and changes, the game largely looks and plays the same as its Genesis counterpart. 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. It was also digitally re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console system in 2007 and Valve's Steam in 2010. In all instances, the Sega Genesis version was used.
Sonic 3D Blast was met with mixed reviews. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave the Sega Saturn version 66.55%, and the Sega Genesis version 58.75%. Critics disapproved of 3D Blast 's gameplay style, some finding its isometric perspective limiting. Lucas M. Thomas of IGN lamented that "the sense of speed and intense action that Sonic's name was built on is absent here, replaced by, essentially, a looping, lazy fetchquest". Austin Shau of GameSpot echoed this concern, calling the gameplay "an exercise in tedium". Besides the game's goals, Shau and Thomas criticized the controls, particularly in the area of Sonic's overly slow-paced movement and slippery deceleration. Thomas did admit that the game "has its moments" of quick-footed vigor, but characterized these as few and far between, and Shau summarized that, while not unsalvageable in isolation, the game's elements violently clashed and customers would be "spending 800 Wii points for a vat of oil and water". Damien McFerran of NintendoLife stated that its repetition was broken only by its boss battles and special stages, the latter of which Shau wrote off as "childishly easy". Reflecting on its complaints years earlier upon the game's inclusion in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, however, Jeremy Parish of 1UP.com called the game "much better than you might be led to believe".
McFerran greatly enjoyed the game's visuals: "the CGI visuals are stunning considering the hardware, the animation is excellent and the level design is colourful and varied". Thomas praised the game's "valiant" pre-rendered graphics, especially taking its limited hardware into account. Shau stated that the graphics were one major area in which the game bore a welcome resemblance to its Genesis predecessors, and particularly appreciated the return of the ring-scattering sound effect. He thought similarly of the music, which he called "chipper". Thomas also gave the music a subscore of 7.5/10, the highest of any element of the game, and noted that its themes would be memorable to players. McFerran welcomed the graphical improvements of the Saturn version, and GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann appreciated this version's superior handling of certain animations. Entertainment Weekly, however, noted the game's unusually similar presentation on two platforms with differing expectations, 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." Staff of GameSpot saw the PC version as similar to the others, but pointed out some slowdown effects while the camera scrolled, attributing these to its wide color palette.
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 Genesis version which was not released in Japan. Senoue rearranged his Green Groove Zone Act 1 and Panic Puppet Zone Act 1 themes for use in Sonic Adventure, and an unused beta song in Sonic 3D Blast would also be re-used by Senoue as the boss theme in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Additionally, a remixed version of the "special stage" song appeared in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations in 2011. The music for the Genesis version of "Green Grove - Act 1" was also featured on the Sonic music compilation Sonic Generations: 20 Years of Sonic Music, which released with the collectors addition release of Sonic Generations.
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- McFerran, Damien (2 November 2007). "Sonic 3D Blast Review". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
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- Parish, Jeremy (29 November 2004). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus Review for PS2 from". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
- Oliver, Tristan (11 July 2011). "Video: Summer of Sonic 2011 Retrospect Released". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Sonic Generations: 20 Years of Sonic Music - Liner Notes/Tracklist - Track 7
- Official Sega Webpage (Virtual Console / Mega Drive) (Japanese)
- Official Sega Webpage (Sega Saturn) (Japanese)
- Official Nintendo Webpage (English)