European cover art
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
Sonic Jam[a] is a video game compilation developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. It was released in Japan in June 1997, and in North America and Europe two months later. It contains the four main Sonic the Hedgehog games released on the Sega Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), and Sonic & Knuckles (1994). It also features a 3D environment, "Sonic World", which doubles as an interactive museum of Sonic the Hedgehog content.
Development began after the release of Nights into Dreams in July 1996. The game was announced at the 1997 Tokyo Game Show as part of a project to increase market awareness of Sega and the Sonic brand. The game received mostly positive reviews, and was praised for its value for money, though some criticized the exclusion of Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball. "Sonic World" was praised for its range of content, though its graphics gathered mixed responses. A cut-down port for the handheld Game.com console was released exclusively in North America in July 1998.
Sonic Jam is a compilation which contains the four main Sonic the Hedgehog games released on the Sega Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Unlike future Sonic collections, Sonic Jam does not use a Genesis emulator; the games are proper ports, and all are nearly identical to the original Sega Genesis releases, with the exception of minor bug fixes. Sonic Jam emulates Sonic & Knuckles' "lock-on technology"—a special feature that allows the player to merge elements of Sonic & Knuckles into previous games, resulting in changes to the level design as well as the choice to play as Tails in Sonic and Knuckles and Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The games can be played with three difficulty modes: Normal, Easy, and Original. Original mode is unchanged from the Genesis games, Normal mode slightly alters the stage layouts to create a unique (often less difficult) experience, and Easy mode adds platforms and removes many obstacles and some levels. New features include the ability to spin dash (introduced in Sonic 2) in the first Sonic the Hedgehog, play Special Stages separately, a "Time Attack" mode, and a "Time Out" option to disable the in-game time limits.
Sonic Jam also includes a special 3D environment, "Sonic World", whereby the player can move around freely as Sonic and interact with various objects. "Sonic World" acts as an interactive museum in which the player can access an array of information of Sonic the Hedgehog-related content, such as viewing concept artwork, manuals, character portfolios, music, and original Japanese advertisements. To access these features, the player must guide Sonic into specific buildings. "Sonic World" also features a "mission list" accessible via jumping on a trampoline. Missions include collecting rings, reaching goalposts, and locating Tails; if all the missions are completed, the player is given the opportunity to view the credits. Sonic Jam is compatible with the Saturn's 3D Control Pad.
Development and release
At the 1997 Tokyo Game Show, Sega announced "Project Sonic", a promotional campaign aimed at increasing market awareness of the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, declared that "phase one" of the project would introduce Sonic Jam as a compilation of games with several improvements rather than being direct ports. At the time of the Tokyo Game Show, the game was "88% complete". According to Naka, the purpose of "Project Sonic" was not only to increase consumer awareness, but to "renew the excitement" the world once had regarding Sega, as Sonic the Hedgehog was only initially successful outside of Japan.
Development began after the release of Nights into Dreams in July 1996, after Sonic Team received letters from fans asking "who Sonic was". Sonic creators Naka and Naoto Ohshima thought it was important to introduce people to the Sonic character, which was the basis for introducing "Project Sonic" to the public. Until the release of Sonic Jam, the studio had not worked on a Sonic game since Sonic & Knuckles in 1994. Naka thought that Sonic Team had had a period to "recharge our batteries" and had new ideas.
"Sonic World" was part of an experiment to see how a Sonic the Hedgehog game would work in full 3D, and served as a prototype for the first fully 3D Sonic game, Sonic Adventure, which began development for the Saturn but was moved to its successor, the Dreamcast. "Sonic World" uses the same engine as Nights. Naka's refusal to share the Nights engine with the Sega Technical Institute (STI) team developing Sonic X-treme—a factor in the latter's cancellation—may have been motivated by his preference for Sonic Team to create an original 3D Sonic game. Naka later expressed "relief" that X-treme was cancelled. Naka and Ohshima said the most difficult process was gathering game-specific information in "Sonic World", as "there are so many games we have never even heard of ... Sega's a big company and before we knew it lots of different game systems had sprung up (including Game Gear, Master System and Pico)."
Sonic Jam was released in Japan on 20 June 1997, and the Saturn version of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island was released in the end of that year. A port of Sonic Jam was released for Tiger Electronics' Game.com handheld console in 1998. It features scaled-down versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
The game's 3D environment, "Sonic World", received mixed reviews. Lee Nutter of Sega Saturn Magazine said that it featured "some of the most astounding graphics witnessed on the Saturn", rivalling those of Super Mario 64. He praised the lack of clipping or glitching, and commended the 3D engine as "truly remarkable". Glenn Rubenstein from GameSpot, however, was not impressed, feeling it did not look as smooth as Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot. Rubenstein praised the unlockable content, in particular the ability to view Japanese versions of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons and adverts. Electronic Gaming Monthly described the 3D world as innovative and fun, but too small to serve as anything more than a preview. The lead reviewer called it "the best Game Select screen ever created" and emphasized that no one should buy the compilation for the 3D world alone.
Game Revolution found the 3D graphics of the interactive museum impressive but the setup mundane. They commended the inclusion of Sonic the Hedgehog commercials. Colin Williamson of AllGame said the 3D presentation was "gorgeous", but felt the overall experience was not as fun compared to Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot. Special K from GamePro felt Sonic Jam served as a "great permanent record" of the original Sonic games. Steve O'Learly from Hyper praised the detailed graphics of "Sonic World", saying that it showed the Saturn did perform well if programmed correctly, although he thought that it did not appear as polished as Super Mario 64.
Reviewers largely praised the inclusion of the four Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis/Mega Drive games. Nutter acknowledged that the compilation "may not be everyone's cup of tea" and recommended that Sonic Jam was not worth purchasing if the player already owned the included games, although he praised its value for money. Rubenstein criticised the fact that the game did not include Sonic CD or Sonic Spinball, stating that "Sega could have made a far more complete Sonic collection" by including more derivative games that were released. He summarised that Sonic Jam was not a definitive Sonic experience, asserting that it had only been six years since the original Sonic the Hedgehog was released and "perhaps most of us aren't quite nostalgic about it yet". Game Revolution's reviewer echoed that the compilation was merely a "solid set of games that we've seen before", saying that the game was not recommended if the consumer was "tired of rehashes", but "well worth thirty or forty bucks." The Electronic Gaming Monthly team described the games as old and outdated, but still fun. Although Williamson noted that there was a lot of exploring for the player to do in Sonic Jam, he expressed scepticism that the majority of the game was from "yesterday" and there were not enough new innovations. O'Learly praised the faithful and accurate replication of the original games, though he felt they were "dated". By contrast, Ed Lomas of Computer and Video Games considered it "amazing how well the games have aged". In a 2014 retrospective, the staff of GamesRadar praised Sonic Jam's "loving" presentation, noting "this was back before classic Sonic games appeared on every device known to man."
- "SONIC JAM ソニック・ジャム" (in Japanese). Sega. Archived from the original on 26 February 2000. Retrieved 30 May 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- "Sonic Jam Details Confirmed!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 21. Emap International Limited. July 1997. p. 6.
- Nutter 1997, pp. 68-69.
- Williamson, Colin (14 November 2014). "Sonic Jam overview". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
- CVG Staff 1997, p. 20.
- Sonic Team 1997, p. 7.
- "Sonic Jam review: Where's the Sonic Peanut Butter?". Game Revolution. CraveOnline. 6 June 2004. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- Rubenstein, Glenn (10 July 1997). "Sonic Jam review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive Inc. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- Sonic Team 1994, pp. 22-24.
- Lomas, Ed (September 1997). "Sonic Jam". Computer and Video Games (190): 66–68.
- O'Leary 1997, p. 72.
- Sonic Team 1997, pp. 6-7.
- O'Leary 1997, p. 73.
- Sonic Team 1997, pp. 8-10.
- Nutter 1997, p. 69.
- Sonic Team 1997, p. 10.
- Sonic Team 1997, p. 4.
- "TGS 1997 Spring". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 95. Ziff Davis. June 1997. p. 60.
- CVG Staff 1997, p. 21.
- Naka and Ohshima 1997, p. 17.
- Towell, Justin (27 June 2011). "Super-rare 1990 Sonic The Hedgehog prototype is missing". Games Radar. Future plc. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "Nights Adventure". Retro Gamer (45). December 2007.
- Naka and Ohshima 1997, p. 18.
- Sonic Team 1998, p. 4.
- "Sonic Jam for Saturn". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "Review Crew: Sonic Jam". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 99. Ziff Davis. October 1997. p. 52.
- Nutter 1997, p. 68.
- Special K 1997, p. 153.
- "Best Saturn games of all time". GamesRadar. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Nutter, Lee (August 1997). "Sonic Jam review". Sega Saturn Magazine. Future plc (22): 68–69. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- Special K (November 1997). "Sonic Jam review". GamePro. IDG Entertainment (110): 153. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
- CVG Staff (June 1997). "Tokyo Game Show: Project Sonic". Computer and Video Games. Future plc (187): 20–21.
- Naka and Ohshima (July 1997). "Interview with Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima". Saturn Power. Future plc (2): 17–18.
- O'Leary, Steve (August 1997). "Sonic Jam review". Hyper. Next Publishing (48): 72–73.
- Sonic Team (1997). Sonic Jam (Saturn) American instruction manual. Sega. pp. 1–12.
- Sonic Team (1994). Sonic & Knuckles European instruction manual. Sega. pp. 2–30.
- Sonic Team (1998). Sonic Jam (Game.com) instruction manual. Sega. pp. 1–12.