- Not to be confused with Sonic Blast.
Sonic 3D Blast, 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?) in Europe and Japan, is a 1996 platform video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was developed in the United Kingdom by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega for the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows.
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 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.
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 Zone) 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, Sonic decides to free the Flickies and stop Robotnik from finding the Emeralds.
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 Zone's, while in each Zone's third Act the player faces Dr. Robotnik in one of his many machines.
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 on the Genesis, 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 around randomly with no interest in finding Sonic. They even sometimes appear to try to avoid Sonic.
- 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 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.
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.
Jun Senoue worked on the music for the Mega Drive version while 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 the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.
The Saturn version also features a theme song, "You're My Hero", composed by Richard Jacques and performed by Debbie Morris. This song is heard during the game's end credits.
Sonic 3D Blast has gained generally mixed reviews, with critics at the time finding the game's controls and slow pac frustrating, but praising its visuals and music. 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 Saturn version received slightly more positive reception than its Mega Drive/Genesis counterpart, 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."
Compilations and re-releases
The Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast is included in several compilation releases, such as Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube; Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and 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 marketplace in 2010.
Mike Wallis, a lead producer of Sega at the time, recalled in an interview that the Genesis version of Sonic 3D was commercially successful for the company, selling over 700.000 units, despite the discontinuation of the console that same year. The Saturn version was the second best-selling game of the system worldwide, behind NiGHTS into Dreams, another title also developed by Sonic Team.
Archie Comics published a comic adaptation of the game for a 48-page special, published in January 1997. A loose adaptation of the game also appeared in issues 104 through 106 (May through July 1997) of Sonic the Comic.
Certain music tracks across both Mega Drive and Saturn/PC versions of the game were re-arranged for future Sonic games including Sonic Adventure, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and Sonic Generations. For Sonic Adventure, composer Jun Senoue stated he included those tracks because he personally enjoyed them, but they had not widely been heard, as he only composed the music for the Mega Drive version which was not released in Japan. In addition, an unused beta song would also be re-used by Senoue as the boss theme in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.
Sonic 3D Blast: Director's Cut
In 2017, Jon Burton, the lead programmer of the Mega Drive version, announced that he was working on an unofficial director's cut patch of the game that can be installed into the ROM of the Sega Genesis version. The director's cut features improved controls and gameplay additions not seen in the original version, such as a Debug Mode level editor, a level password save system, Time Attack challenges, and the ability to transform into Super Sonic. A beta version was released in November 2017.
- 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").
- It is also possible to access the Stage Select by physically hitting the game cartridge and has been explained by the Traveller Tales' founder Jon Burt.
- 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 Golden Shield power-up that appeared in Sonic 3D Blast, which allowed Sonic to perform the Blast Attack, would later become one of Sonic’s trademark moves, the Homing Attack.
- The names of the Zones in this game are all alliterations like the stages in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- Richard Jacques, the composer for the Saturn and PC version soundtrack, would remix the music featured in Green Grove Zone for another Sega game, Metropolis Street Racer, into the song "It Doesn't Really Matter", sung by T.J. Davis, who had previous collaborated with Jacques for the soundtrack in Sonic R.
- 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 Travellers Tales' first developer appearance, later returning for Sonic R for their last development in the Sonic series.
- One of Sonic's waiting animations in this game appears in Sonic Generations as one of Classic Sonic's waiting animations.
- 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 music for Panic Puppet Zone Act 2 (Mega Drive version) appears to be a remix of the boss battle theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- 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.
- Some of the tunes (such as the 1-Up jingle and the Continue music) were reused from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
- Coincidentally, the melody in the main menu music is identical to part of the melody in Spring Stadium Zone's music.
- The original boss theme for Sonic 3D Blast (found in the prototypes) was, much later, reused in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.
- The music that plays in the Special Stages in the Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast is very similar to a track from another Sega game, Super Fantasy Zone, the music that plays in the first level of the game, Picnic, with the track known as "Picnicka".
- As with Sonic CD, Sonic & Knuckles Collection, and Sonic R, the original PC port of Sonic 3D Blast was released as part of the "Sega PC" brand.
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Mirabella, Fran (2 November 2002). Sonic Mega Collection. IGN. Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
- ↑ Goldstein, Hilary (3 November 2004). Sonic Mega Collection Plus. IGN. Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
- ↑ Miller, Greg (12 February 2009). Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. IGN. Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
- ↑ Thomas, Lucas M. (4 December 2007). Sonic 3D Blast Review (Genesis). IGN. Retrieved on 19 July 2013.
- ↑ Sonic 3D Blast™. Steam (1 June 2010). Retrieved on 9 April 2015.
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20090904194333/http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page.php?id=275&title=Interview:%20Mike%20Wallis
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20040613093351/http://www.lostlevels.org/200403/timeline.shtml
- ↑ Oliver, Tristan (11 July 2011). Video: Summer of Sonic 2011 Retrospect Released. Retrieved on 19 July 2013.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Sega-16 – Side by Side: Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis vs. Saturn).
- ↑ Sonic 3D's original developer is creating an unofficial Director's Cut. Retrieved on 14 October 2017.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 The RetroBeat: Sonic 3D Blast sprints to a new legacy with an unofficial Director’s Cut. Retrieved on 22 November 2017.
- ↑ Ben Kuchera (3 October 2017). Why physically hitting Sonic 3D Blast unlocks a secret menu. Polygon. Retrieved on 23 November 2017.
- ↑