Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic 3D Blast (known as Sonic 3D Flickies' Island in Japan and Europe) is an isometric platforming game developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega, released in 1996 for the Sega Genesis and Sega Saturn, with a PC port following a year later. It was the last Sonic game made for Sega Genesis.
The objective is to destroy each of the five Badniks that are in the different areas of each act, and thus, collect the Flickies and take them to an interdimensional ring-shaped portal, which will allow access to another area with more Badniks.Only Sonic is controlled.Tails and Knuckles will appear on the stage, to take Sonic to the special phase of the game (only in the Saturn version you see Tails and Knuckles transporting Sonic to the special phase).Sonic's Spindash, being a isometric view game, had to be modified. Holding a charged key and releasing it, Sonic pops out, somewhat similar to how it is executed in Sonic Adventure.
Dr. Robotnik discovers the seven Chaos Emeralds on Flicky Island, but they are nowhere to be found. He soon learns that the Flickies residing on the secluded island are native to a different dimension, and can travel between worlds using large rings. Consequently, the Doctor determines there is some sort of connection and resolves to turn them all into robots using his new Dimension Ring Generator. Later, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles arrive to beat Robotnik to the Chaos Emeralds but find that they are too late - Sonic finds that Robotnik is already placing his Flicky friends into robots. Naturally, Sonic decides to free the Flickies and stop Robotnik from finding the Emeralds.
The concept for Sonic 3D Blast originated during the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Most of the programming was outsourced to the British studio Traveller's Tales, as the Japanese Sonic Team staff was preoccupied with Nights into Dreams. Development lasted eight months, and the team drew inspiration from Donkey Kong Country and Sonic Labyrinth.Sonic 3D Blast was developed alongside the Saturn game Sonic X-treme. When X-treme was canceled, Sega commissioned a port of 3D Blast featuring improved graphics for the Saturn.According to founder Jon Burton, Traveller's Tales had just finished developing Toy Story from Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System and wanted to start developing games for 32-bit systems such as the Saturn and PlayStation. Sega, impressed with their work on Toy Story and Mickey Mania, approached them with 3D Blast.
Why It Rocks
- The isometric view gives rise to several good ideas, for example,the maps are wide and you can explore them in a decent and competent way, and it makes you have to time the jumps so that the Flickies don't escape.
- The pre-rendered graphics, while not the sharpest tool in the shred, look decent, especially on the Saturn version as it's not as overly-saturated as the Genesis version since it was capable of more color and thus more detailed terrain and models, and less annoyance to the eye. It also contains extra graphical effects unique to the levels such as snow, steam, rain or fog, thanks to the console's extra power.
- The Genesis version features an opening FMV which, despite the Sega CD-esque video quality and the terrible animation, is pretty impressive for Genesis standards,besides what the opening looks wonderful on Sega Saturn, due to the console's ability.
- The Genesis version allows you to collect two Chaos Emeralds per act instead of one.
- The soundtrack is amazing on both versions:
- The Genesis version was composed by people like Jun Senoue, which made the OST similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Jun would later go on to do the soundtrack for Sonic Adventure by remixing two songs of this game for Windy Valley and Twinkle Park.
- The Saturn version was composed by Richard Jaques, taking advantage of the disk format. It also includes a vocal theme in the credits, something that had only been done in Sonic CD previously.
- The controls of the game, while not the best and not being as fast-paced as the previous games, do the work fine, as Sonic still has some slope physics much like the Classic games and you can still do basic tricks such as spin dash-jumping to reach far platforms. The game is smoother to play on the Saturn if you play with a controller with an analog stick.
- The game, as tradition, features three type of shields, protecting you from one hit and having an additional function, similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
- Gold Shield: Allows you to home in on enemies at close range, similar to the Homing Attack that would be introduced in Sonic Adventure.
- Fire Shield: Protects you from fire-based hazards.
- Blue Shield: No additional effects, working like the traditional shield from Sonic 1.
- The level design is quite good, taking advantage of the isometric view in a fairly competent way. While the game is focused much more on exploration and not so much on speed like the classic trilogy and CD, there's still some sections that demand the player to go fast to avoid obstacles. Platforming is fairly basic but effective.
- The bosses make good use of the perspective of the isometric scenarios and give the player a decent challenge (except for Volcano Valley).
- The Special Stages in the Saturn version are actually rendered in 3D, and are much more challenging, being similar to the Special Stages from Sonic 2.
- In 2017, a "Director's Cut" version of the ROM was made by the game's creator Jon Burton, which fixes many of the game’s flaws and gives the players an option to transform into Super Sonic upon collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds.
- There is no timer, which is good because you can stay on a level as long as you want and rescue the Flickies without worrying about time running out.
- The story, while not so good compared to other Sonic games, is decently written and interesting.
- Although it's still a good game, it hasn't aged well. For bad qualities, click here.
Sonic 3D Blast received mixed reviews, according to the review aggregator GameRankings.Mike Wallis, an employee of Sega at the time, recalled in an interview that the Genesis version was successful for the company, eventually selling over 700,000 copies.The Saturn version was also a commercial success and was one of the system's better-selling games, according to Wallis.Critics generally disapproved of Sonic 3D Blast's gameplay style, some finding its isometric perspective limiting. GamePro's Art Angel found that it made timing jumps and spin dashes to either destroy enemies or land on moving platforms frustrating at first, and that once those techniques are mastered the game suddenly becomes too easy.Crispin Boyer of Electronic Gaming Monthly remarked that "The game doesn't hold nearly as many secrets (as earlier Sonic the Hedgehog Games) , and it gets repetitive after a while."
- The European box artwork for Sonic 3D Blast was created by Me Company. A clay model was used to design Sonic's head for the cover.
- This is the first Sonic game to have been released on the Sega Saturn, though Sonic and Dr. Robotnik had originally appeared as unlockable characters in Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams.
- Sonic 3D Blast was never released in Japan for the Genesis and PC until Sonic Mega Collection, but the Saturn version was released in Japan on October of 1999.
- The Homing Attack is introduced in the series as a power-up shield, and would become a part of Sonic's moveset from Sonic Adventure onwards.
- Two songs from the Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast, Green Grove Zone Act 1 and Panic Puppet Zone Act 1, would be remixed in Sonic Adventure.
- One of the unused songs (Knuckles' Special Stage) from the prototype cassette would be remixed as "Pleasure Castle... for Twinkle Park" in Sonic Adventure.
- Due to technical limitations of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive VRAM, the special stages in the Genesis version are displayed at 1:1 aspect ratio. This is why it looks stretched out compared to the main stages, which the game displays at 4:3 aspect ratio.
- If we insistently hit the cartridge while the game is running on the MegaDrive we will access the classic level selector. But the most curious thing is that it was not a bug: the programmers intentionally put it.
- A Sonic Jam promotional screenshot showed that Sonic 3D Blast was planned to have a Game.com version, which was later scrapped for unknown reasons.