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Sonic 3D Blast

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Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic 3D Blast Genesis Cover.jpg
S3DBEurope.jpg
S3DBSaturn.jpg
S3DBSaturnjpcover.jpg
Perhaps Sonic DID have a rough transition into 3D...
Genre(s): Platform
Platform(s): Sega Genesis
Sega Saturn
Microsoft Windows
Release: Sega Genesis
NA: November 7, 1996
EU: November 14, 1996

Sega Saturn
NA: November 1996
EU: February 14, 1997
JP: October 14, 1999

Microsoft Windows
EU: September 11, 1997
NA: September 16, 1997
Developer(s): Traveller's Tales
Sonic Team
Publisher(s): Sega
Country: United Kingdom
Japan
Series: Sonic the Hedgehog
Predecessor: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Successor: Sonic R


Sonic 3D Blast (known as Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island outside of North America) is an isometric platform game developed by Traveller's Tales and Sonic Team, and published by Sega, released in 1996 for the Sega Genesis and Sega Saturn, with the Microsoft Windows version following a year later. It was the last Sonic game made for Sega Genesis.

Plot

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.

Bad Qualities

  1. Misleading title: The game somewhat isn't 3D, as it's just a 2D game played in an isometric view to give the player an illusion of the game being 3D.
  2. Because of the isometric view and very wide maps, you can easily get lost and even go back to places you've already been, this is even worse on the last levels with large and wide designs full of obstacles.
    • Also the isometric view can be quite uncomfortable in some places.
  3. The game is just a repetitive escort mission, as you have to destroy Badniks and escort Flickies to the goal. This was the main turning point for many fans, being said it's annoying for reasons:
    • When Sonic gets hurt, all Flickies that he has will scatter all around the place.
    • Even if the Flickies get hurt while Sonic doesn't, they will still scatter around.
    • Some Flickies can be difficult to catch, especially the red Flickies because they not make any efforts to find Sonic, and make large jumps that make them hard to catch, along with the green Flickies, who will actually fly away from Sonic.
    • Flickies can fall in a lava pit or any similar dangerous areas, the only way to rescue it will be by throwing ourselves into danger too. The worst thing is that doing so will not only release the Flicky that we just saved, but also when Sonic receives damage, all the other Flickies will be scattered. This can be a real problem at the toughest levels, another way is to wait a long time for the Flicky to come back to rescue them.
  4. Although the title itself plays well, playing with the D-Pad in Sega Genesis is somewhat difficult. The new perspective makes it difficult to see where Sonic is, it is difficult to calculate jumps at times, and the simple task of jumping on an enemy can be more complicated than desirable, this is compounded by the next point.
  5. In the last three levels there are sections of precise platform that can be a bit tricky due to the controls.
  6. Sonic doesn't go as fast as he does in the previous games, as the fastest he can go is in a jogging position.
  7. Bad collision detection: Sonic can sometimes miss a platform even if he jumped perfectly on it.
  8. The Special Stages in the Genesis version are incredibly easy to complete, even if you hit yourself with skewers twice in a row, you can still get the Chaos Emeralds, plus, there are too many rings on stage that make it easier, and the position of the skewers is also lazy.
  9. The special stages in the PC version are worse than the Sega Genesis version. The special stages are a mediocre attempt to adapt Saturn's stages, to start, the graphics and the stage look ugly and you can't see the explosives because of the limited camera, so you often bump into explosives because you can't see them, with bombs sometimes appearing right at the end of a ring trail. Traveller's Tales reported that this was done to make the game run well on low-end computers of the time and not require a 3D accelerator graphics card, but that's a poor excuse, since there were PC ports of Sega Saturn games like Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragoon that came out a year prior, and those games ran fine, even without 3D accelerator cards.
  10. The worst boss is in Volcano Valley, even though it serves its purpose, Eggman it's in the center of the map and it doesn't move, so you can get around the entire boss design and defeat it easily in short time because it doesn't move, and the flame that comes out is unlikely to attack you.
  11. The other worst boss is in Panic Puppet, the boss has three phases and the 2nd-3rd phases can be pretty hard.
  12. When you collect all of the Chaos Emeralds, you don't get the ability to transform into Super Sonic, unlike Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Here, they only unlock the exclusive final boss to get the good ending, much like Sonic 2 on the Master System/Game Gear.
    • This can be remediated by installing the Director's Cut mod on the PC version.
  13. The Saturn version has long load times that are almost on par with the load times of Sonic '06.
  14. You're only allowed to get one Chaos Emerald per act in the Saturn and PC versions. For example, if you completed a Special Stage with Tails and got a Chaos Emerald and you try to do Knuckles' Special Stage (or vice versa), you will only get an extra life.
  15. There is no save feature in this game, not even on the Saturn or PC versions.
  16. The European cover of the game is really bad and comes off as hideously designed, especially Sonic's quills.

Good Qualities

  1. 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.
  2. 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 natural ability to produce good quality FMVs.
  3. The Genesis version allows you to collect two Chaos Emeralds per act instead of one.
  4. The soundtrack is amazing on both versions:
    • The Genesis version was composed by people like Jun Senoue and Tatsuyuki Maeda, 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 become a part of Sonic's moveset in Sonic Adventure.
    • Red Shield: Protects you from fire-based hazards.
    • Blue Shield: Protects you from electric-based hazards.
  7. The level design is quite good (with the exception of Volcano Valley Zone), 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.
  8. The bosses make good use of the perspective of the isometric scenarios and give the player a decent challenge (except for Volcano Valley).
  9. 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.
  10. 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, adds some quality-of-life improvements and gives the players an option to transform into Super Sonic upon collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds.
  11. 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.
  12. The story, while not so good compared to other Sonic games, is decently written and interesting.

Reception

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."

Videos

Trivia

  • 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 be 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 you insistently hit the cartridge or attempting to crash the game in any way (such as bugs or even this) while the game is running on the Mega Drive you will access the classic level selector. But the most curious thing is that it was not a bug: the programmers intentionally put it[1].
  • 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.
  • Sonic was originally intended to go faster in this game, but was slowed down due to hardware limitations.
  • This is the first Sonic game to not start with the typical "SEGA" jingle. Instead, it sounds more like a man screaming the company's name in a similar manner to the SEGA commercials of the mid-90s. Click here to listen it for yourself.

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