Sonic 3D (entitled Sonic 3D Blast in North America and Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island in Europe and Australia) is an isometric platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was developed in the United Kingdom by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega. The Japanese version was released simultaneously with Sonic Adventure International as a Sega Saturn exclusive under the Flickies' Island name, although later re-releases of the Genesis version used the Blast name in Japan. The Genesis (or Mega Drive) version has been released on the Wii's Virtual Console service in late 2007 on the European and Japanese markets, and in 19 November 2007 for North America. This version was also included in 2002's Sonic Mega Collection, a compilation on the Nintendo Gamecube of seven Sonic hits on the Sega Genesis, and was later featured in the 2004 re-release titled Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the Xbox and Playstation 2 systems, which featured the seven original games, plus unlockable Game Gear titles and other bonus features. The PC release, based on the Saturn incarnation, used the full title Sonic 3D Blast: Flickies' Island on its window. It was released as the fifth anniversary game of the series.
Release history and versions
In addition to the original Mega Drive version, Sonic 3D Blast was also available for the Sega Saturn to make up for the cancellation of Sonic X-treme, which was intended to be Saturn's killer game for the 1996 holiday season; the game was ported in seven weeks, during development of the Mega Drive version. The game boasts FMVs, higher quality graphics (including a true 3D Special Stage, considered by many fans to be the best Special Stage in the series) and an entirely new CD audio soundtrack composed by Richard Jacques (who later produced the Sonic R soundtrack). A European release followed in February 1997.
In September 1997 a port of the Saturn version was released for PC in Europe and North America, with the videos and soundtrack intact, as well as the notable addition of a save game system, but lacking some of the Saturn's effects (such as the fog in Rusty Ruin) and with a less impressive special stage that mixed the 2D sprites from the Mega Drive version with the basic gameplay of the Saturn version. The Saturn version was eventually released in Japan on 14 October 1999, the same date as Sonic Adventure International. That release is notable for including stylized "Classic Sonic" artwork, but other than that the game is largely identical except the Saturn version's notorious load times are slightly improved.
Only one version of the Mega Drive game was released, with the title differing depending on whether it is played on a PAL or NTSC console. In PAL regions the title is Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, and in NTSC regions the title is Sonic 3D Blast. This caused a problem, however, when the Mega Drive version was re-released in the Sonic Mega Collection. Due to the aforementioned feature, the game is titled Sonic 3D Blast when played on a PAL 60 or NTSC-J system.
Although the PC version's title differed between regions, its executable was titled Sonic 3D Blast: Flickies' Island, a combination of both names. It should be noted though, that the combined name is rarely used, with fans usually favoring one name over the other. In addition, Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island was the title that was used for the Japanese Saturn version, but when the Mega Drive version was finally released in Japan as part of Sonic Mega Collection, it was once again known as Sonic 3D Blast.
In October 2006, a 95 percent complete prototype was acquired and dumped for Internet distribution.
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, he decides to free the Flickies and stop Robotnik from finding the Emeralds.
Sonic 3D Blast includes seven main Zones plus a final boss level. In order, the Zones are:
- Green Grove Zone, a Green-Hill-esque tropical paradise with checkered soil.
- Rusty Ruin Zone, the once-submerged remnants of an ancient culture, dredged up from the sea bed by Robotnik.
- Spring Stadium Zone, a bouncy arena filled with balloons and spikes.
- Diamond Dust Zone, the frigid slopes of Flicky Island's mountain range.
- Volcano Valley Zone, an active volcano.
- Gene Gadget Zone, Robotnik's genetic research laboratory.
- Panic Puppet Zone, a fortified factory and the center of Robotnik's base. Game ends here if the player has not collected all seven Chaos Emeralds.
- The Final Fight, the steel foundations beneath Panic Puppet Zone. Can only be accessed if the player collects all seven of the Chaos Emeralds.
Several music tracks from the Mega Drive version were later reused in Sonic Adventure. This is not a coincidence, as Jun Senoue worked on the music for both games. Richard Jacques scored the Saturn/PC versions. Many of the themes used in the Mega Drive version come from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. The Game Over music was also used in Sonic Pocket Adventure. A version of the Panic Puppet Zone theme was used in the games Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Furthermore, hidden in the cartridge data (not accessible from the sound test screen) is the music track from Sonic 3's gumball bonus stage, which was also composed by Jun Senoue. Since the Saturn and PC versions of the game use Red Book audio, their soundtracks can be played using a CD player.
The Saturn version also features a theme song, "You're My Hero", composed by Richard Jaques and performed by Debbie Morris. This song is heard during the game's end credits.
The game is played from an isometric viewpoint in a 2D environment and uses pre-rendered 3D sprites. Sonic must collect Flickies (first featured in the 1984 Sega arcade game Flicky) and bring them to a warp ring in order to advance in a zone. Each zone consists of two regular acts and one boss act. There are ten or fifteen Flickies in each zone's regular acts, barring Panic Puppet's, while in each zone's third act the player faces Dr. Robotnik in one of his many machines.
To warp to a Special Stage where the player can try for a Chaos Emerald, either Tails or Knuckles must be located within the regular levels. The player must then hand over a minimum of fifty Rings to one them in order to be taken to the Special Stage. To do this, the player must stand next to either Tails or Knuckles. At this point, the player's Rings will be absorbed. However, the player is not required to hand over fifty Rings at once, but can instead hand over a portion of the required Ring and then come back later in the same level and hand over the remaining Rings.
There are three different versions of the bonus levels based on the platform of the game:
- Sega Genesis/Mega Drive: Sonic must run down a bridge, collecting rings and avoiding bombs.
- Sega Saturn: Sonic must run down a three dimensional half-pipe covered in rings and bombs and must collect enough rings to progress to the end of each stage.
- PC Version: Sonic must run down a half-pipe similar to those in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
After Tails/Knuckles has received fifty rings and Sonic returns back to the level, Tails/Knuckles will not transport the player back to the Special Stage again, but will instead give Sonic extra bonus points at the end of the level if the player continues to give them more Rings.
Flicky typesThe Flickies Sonic rescues in each level come in four different colors. Each color has its own personality:
- Blue Flickies make a conscious effort to find Sonic. If they cannot find him, they fly around in a tight circle, making them easy to locate.
- Pink Flickies act largely like blue ones, but fly around in bigger circles if unable to find Sonic. In the Volcano Valley Zone in the Genesis version, the pink Flickies are replaced with bright orange, flaming Flickies, presumably due to color palette limitations.
- Red Flickies constantly move between two close points, not making any effort to find Sonic. Their movement range is small, but they jump very high and can thus be hard to catch.
- Green Flickies wander randomly with no interest in finding Sonic, they even sometimes appear to try to avoid Sonic.
At the third act of each zone, Sonic will encounter Doctor Robotnik in his machines, which require various amounts of hits to defeat.
- Green Grove Zone boss (spike ball dropper)
- Rusty Ruin Zone boss (armored titan)
- Spring Stadium Zone boss (long spiked arms)
- Diamond Dust Zone boss (chilling unit)
- Volcano Valley Zone boss (lava processor)
- Gene Gadget Zone boss (missile launcher)
- Panic Puppet Zone boss (multipurpose weapon)
- The Final Fight (if all Chaos Emeralds are collected)
Sonic 3D Blast has gained mixed reviews. IGN criticized the game, complaining about the poor controls in conjunction with the isometric viewpoint and change in the previous Sonic formula, stating "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 was more positive on the game, praising its graphics, soundtrack and challenging boss fights. However, there were still common complaints 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 Saturn version of the game than the Genesis version, claiming that "while Sonic 3D Blast is super by 16-bit standards, it falls flat on Saturn, where 32-bit games with far more sophisticated 3-D graphics and gameplay are the norm." However, the Sega Saturn version received slightly more praise than the Mega Drive/Genesis version, with with critics praising the revamped Special Stages and the weather effects.
In retrospect, ScrewAttack ranked it #5 in its list of worst Sonic games, calling the game "a 2-D overhead with a bad angle." Conversely, 1UP.com described the game as "much better than you might be led to believe by the negative reviews it garnered back in the day."
- This is the second game to feature Knuckles' socks being the wrong color, as they are blue instead of green. The first game to see this was in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles where they were yellow when not playing as Knuckles.
- In the Mega Drive / Genesis version, by inputting the following in order: B, A, Right on d-pad, A, C, Up on d-pad, Down on d-pad and A, the player will have access to the Level Select screen (note that the inputs spell "Baracuda").
- At Jack in the Box fast food restaurants, copies of the PC version of the game were given away as bonuses in kids' meals, up until the release of Sonic Adventure.
- The names of the stages in this game are all alliterations like the stages in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The music for Panic Puppet Zone act 1 on the Mega Drive was remixed in Sonic Adventure for Twinkle Park, the Green Groove Zone Act 1 music was also remixed in Sonic Adventure for "The Air" in Windy Valley, the Bonus Stage music is used, albeit in a much slower form, in the first stage of Windy Valley, "Windy Hill", before the Tornado, and the music for Diamond Dust Zone was remixed in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
- This is the second game where collecting all seven Emeralds does not unlock Super Sonic.
- This is the last Sonic game on the Mega Drive/Genesis.
- This is the first Sonic game to have been released on the Sega Saturn, though Sonic had originally appeared as an unlockable character in Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams..., his first 3D appearance.
- This game was Travelers Tales first developer appearance, then later Travelers Tales returned for Sonic R for its last development (for the Sonic series - Travelers Tales still develops for games such as the Lego video game series).
- One of Sonic's waiting animations in this game appears in Sonic Generations as one of Classic Sonic's waiting animations.
- An unused track for a pre-release version was later used as the initial boss theme in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.
- The Japanese version on Sega Saturn has slightly faster loading times, but removed (or changed) the level skip code.
- Matthew Felix holds the world record score at 1,746,900 points achieved on 19 December 2013.
- It was the third to last first-party Saturn game released in Japan, where it was a Saturn exclusive until the release of Sonic Mega Collection which finally brought the Mega Drive version to Japan. It was also the last Sonic game for the Mega Drive.
- The Mega Drive music for Panic Puppet Zone Act 2 (Mega Drive version) appears to be a remix of the boss battle theme in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
- Sonic 3D Blast bears some similarities to the game, Flicky, another game created by Sega and the debut of Flicky character. Both games focus on the rescue of small birds who follow the player in a chain behind them, in both games the birds can also get separated from the player if an enemy breaks the chain. Levels are also cleared in both games by collecting all birds and bringing them to a specific point in the level.
- Sonic 3D Blast is one of the two games to be added to the Arcade Collection, the other being Sonic R.
- ↑ Quote from Producer of Sonic 3D Blast Mike Wallis: They were part of the backup plan with Sonic 3D Blast, and Travellers Tales did the game and SOJ did the Bonus Levels (Special Stages)
- ↑ According to Programmer Jon Burton, Sega actually “supplied the game design and level layouts, so we (Traveller's Tales) implemented the gameplay, created the technology to run that kind of game on a Mega Drive and created the rendered graphic style and so on,” he recalls..
- ↑ Sega of Japan Saturn master hist for first-party titles; search for "ソニック３Ｄ フリッキーアイランド". Retrieved on 27 March 2012.
- ↑ Sonic 3D Beta website
- ↑