The Genesis and Saturn versions of Sonic 3D Blast are identical aside from a few key differences:
- Saturn version receives enhanced visuals.
- Each of the two versions have a completely different soundtrack.
- The special stages are different in the Saturn version, in both level design and visual style (the Saturn version's special stages have polygonal graphics).
Flicky Island is a isle that is inhabited by birds called Flickies. These strange birds have magical properties, and one of those powers include traveling to different dimensions through large gold rings. Also on this island are the seven Chaos Emeralds that have incredible powers. Dr. Robotnik discovers this island and he realizes that these 7 gems are here. Then, he finds the Flickies and turns them into robot minions to help him search for the Emeralds.
Sonic, who is a friend of the Flikies, shows up at the island. He finds what his nemesis Robotnik has done to them, and now it's up to Sonic to destroy all of Robotink's badniks to free all of the Flickies. Sonic and the Flickies then help each other out to prevent Dr. Robotnik's plans. That is where the birds ability to transport to altered dimensions comes in. This useful power is the way to get to Robotnik and ultimately stop him from getting the Chaos Emeralds and gaining the power to rule the world.
Playing as Sonic, the player must destroy Robotnik's robots or badniks in order to release the trapped Flickies. Then the player has to collect those Flickies in order to advance to the next zone by going through a large gold ring. The player has to collect five Flickies to advance. The game has seven zones each with three acts. Act 1 and 2 are regular levels which the player explores around the level, destroys enemies, and collects Flickies. The third act is a boss battle.
Their is four types of enemies each level and each of those enemies releases a different colored Flicky. Blue Flickies try to find Sonic and when they can't find him they fly around in circle. Pink Flickies are the same as blue ones, but fly around in a larger circle. Red Flickies fly from point A to point B and they don't try to find Sonic, they also jump at times, and they are difficult to catch. Green Filckies make no attempt to find Sonic and move around randomly. Once Sonic reaches and touches him they follow him around. If Sonic is attacked by an badnik he loses a Flicky and he must get him back.
Controlling Sonic and other gameplay features are much like other Sonic games. For the Genesis, the D-pad moves sonic around the area, the A button and C button make Sonic jump, and the B button makes Sonic roll into a ball and do a spin dash. And, like many other Sonic games, collecting rings prevents Sonic from dying when he is attacked by enemies.
The game's levels consist of seven full zones, each comprising two regular acts and one boss act, and one final boss zone that is only accessible to the player if Sonic has collected all Chaos Emeralds. Interestingly, Sonic 3D Blast follows Sonic CD's convention of using alliterations for zone names.
Green Grove Zone
This tropical zone is typical of the first zone in a Sonic game. Waterfalls, bridges and loop-de-loops adorn Sonic's journey as he speeds across the checkered floor in search of flickies. In the boss fight, Robotnik tries to drop a spiked ball on Sonic from his hovercraft and can be hit when he descends to collect it.
Rusty Ruin Zone
An ancient ruins zone in the vein of Marble Zone from the original Sonic and Marble Garden Zone from Sonic 3. Certain tiles put Sonic into a special twirling state that allows him to smash through certain otherwise unbreakable obstacles. The boss fight requires Sonic to jump onto the claws of a large statue in order to reach Robotnik who resides in its head.
Spring Stadium Zone
Spring Stadium Zone plays yet another Sonic cliché rather straight, fulfilling the role of the mandatory pinball level. Sonic ricochets off bumpers, pops balloons and shoots off flippers as he makes his way to the end of the zone, where Robotnik chases him with a hovercraft equipped with spiked claws.
Diamond Dust Zone
An ice level reminiscent of Ice Cap Zone in Sonic 3. Strategically placed turrets threaten to turn Sonic into solid ice, while strong currents of melting snow carries the struggling hedgehog into spiky traps. The boss features Robotnik attempting to freeze Sonic with ice shooters, occasionally lowering his craft to drop a snowman bomb.
Volcano Valley Zone
In sharp contrast to the preceding level, Volcano Valley Zone has Sonic navigating a lava level reminiscent of Lava Reef Zone in Sonic & Knuckles. Destructible rocks reveal hidden passages in this volcanic maze where Sonic must jump over broad pools of magma and avoid many a fire-spewing trap. The fire shield (red) is particularly useful in this zone. In the boss arena, Sonic must outrun a tongue of flame as he aims hits at a very stationary Robotnik.
Gene Gadget Zone
A largely mechanical level filled with industrial fans and dangerous electric traps. The lightning shield (blue) is particularly useful to avoid getting Sonic electrocuted. The boss involves our hero dodging mines on a large treadmill as Robotnik fires missiles at him from his hovercraft.
Panic Puppet Zone
Another industrial themed level, Panic Puppet Zone is special in that Sonic frees flickies from special containers rather than from Badniks. The boss for this zone, and the final boss if Sonic does not have all the Chaos Emeralds, requires Sonic to advance through several tiers of battle mechanics.
Final Fight Zone
The last boss of Sonic 3D Blast is a deadly machine, naturally crafted in the likeness of its master, which chases Sonic through a series of puzzles that loops until the hedgehog is able to land enough hits on the contraption.
Criticism, and failed potential
Sonic 3D Blast received mostly negative responses from critics and fans alike. Mainly because the game had messy controls, the dull and repetitiveness of the gameplay, and the loss of Sonic's speed. Sonic's movement was very slippery because of the use of the D-pad on the Genesis' controller. The gameplay had the same premise with each level; destroying enemies, saving Flickies, and progressing to the next level. Sonic doesn't run past the environments as he would in other sonic games. Having to stop, destroy the badniks, and to collect the Flickies greatly slows down Sonic. However, the game might have been greatly improved had a few tweaks been made.
For one thing, the fault of the game fell largely on the fact that Sonic must find and destroy each robot in the level, a requirement not imposed on any previous title in the Sonic series. The fact that there were only 5 enemies per area also compounded the issue of there being a lack of action in the game, since enemies existed to serve the purpose of a scavenger hunt rather than as a hazard for Sonic. Even if only 5 enemies could have Flickies, there could still have been more than 5 enemies, and the rest would simply not contain Flickies. In fact, the very last zone in the game, Panic Puppet Zone, uses enemies that don't contain Flickies, and there are more than 5 enemies per level section -- it's a wonder why this formula wasn't used throughout the game.
Furthermore, defeating robots is made incredibly awkward due to Sonic's lack of a homing attack. Ironically, Sonic 3D Blast actually does have a homing attack, as it is technically the first ever Sonic title to have this ability. Unfortunately, you must be in possession of the (rare) yellow shield powerup in order to be able to homing attack, and if you get hit, you lose the shield and thus this ability. If Sonic had this ability all the time by default, the game might have played out much smoother and faster-paced. Some on-screen radar/map or arrows pointing toward the position of robots containing Flickes might also have helped.
A few areas of the game force the player to go very slow, such as in Marble Ruins Zone, where Sonic must touch a floor pad that makes him spin like a top. While in this state of spinning like a top, the player must very carefully navigate Sonic (whose control is much more slippery than before, and continues to move even if you let go of the controls) through an obstacle course littered with spikes, toward a section of destructible pillars. (which can only be destroyed while spinning as a top, even though spindashing won't work) If Sonic touches the spikes, he gets hit and returns to normal, forcing the player to exercise extreme care when controlling Sonic. Not only is the player is essentially punished for trying to complete these segments quickly, there is no incentive to do so. (for instance there is no reward for completing it quickly, and no time limit on Sonic's spinning state) There's also the fact that failing this segment means you have to backtrack all the way to the floor pad that made Sonic spin like a top, and try again from the beginning.
Sonic 3D Blast has loop-de-loops iconic of the Sonic series, but in this game, each loop is essentially a triggered cutscene. Before approaching a loop, the player loses control of Sonic as he automatically charges up a spindash for a few seconds, before spinning through the entire loop by himself, without any player input. (All loops in the game, by the way, show Sonic spindashing through it rather than running, quite likely due to sprite limitations.) In fact, each loop sequence ends with and is preceded by a locked gate that only opens during the loop 'cutscene', further emphasizing the fact that it is nothing more than a cutscene, as well as further shattering any sense of natural flow between loops and the rest of the game. The loops, implemented in such a fashion, only served to establish in players' minds that this was ''less than a Sonic game''. The loops seemingly existed in Sonic 3D Blast clearly because other Sonic titles had them, and for no other reason.
Other issues with Sonic 3D Blast might include lack of any multiplayer (even though Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic The Hedgehog 3 could be played through its entirety with 2 players, and even had their own versus modes), the inability to play as Tails or Knuckles in single-player (a strong feature in Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, as each of the 3 characters had their own unique abilities and access areas the others couldn't), the lack of Super Sonic (thus defeating replay value, and providing no incentive to collect the Chaos Emeralds), no way to save your progress (not even a password system), and generally an overall lifeless presentation -- despite the fact that even Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were sprinkled with cutscenes, a variety of midbosses (and even Mecha Sonic), a sense of transition between zones/acts, and an implied mythos tying together its game world, Knuckles, and the emeralds. Sonic 3D Blast does no such things, despite the presence of emeralds and the mysterious Flickies, and despite the fact this game supposedly takes place on ''Flickies' Island''. The instruction manual even tells the player to grab their snowboard, when writing about Diamond Dust Zone -- but there is no snowboarding sequence in Diamont Dust, or anywhere in the game.
And although most Sonic titles at the time did not grant the player a level select screen (that wasn't hidden) with S-ranks scores to attain for each stage, the lack of this feature was nonetheless a wasted potential for any Sonic title, especially one such as this with sprawling, multidirectional environments. Lastly, although the special stages in the Saturn version of Sonic 3D Blast were spectacular for its time (and were in full polygonal 3D unlike the rest of the game), the special stages in the Genesis version were very underwhelming compared to those in any previous Sonic title, and was easily an aspect of the game that could have been revamped. (or removed altogether)
Other than these negative points, the game was appreciated for a number of reasons. It had good graphics for its time on the Genesis, and the enhanced, Saturn version was lush and vibrant. The game also had very good soundtracks -- both the Genesis and Saturn versions have their fans, the Saturn soundtrack was created by esteemed vgm artist Richard Jacques, and some of the themes from the Genesis version would eventually be remixed and used as music in Sonic Adventure. The Sega Saturn version of Sonic 3D Blast was praised for its better graphics over the Genesis version, and benefited from the Saturn's superior directional pad, as well as the option to play using an analog control stick, which was available on Saturn's non-standard ''3D controller''. (Although control was still digital and only in 8 directions, using the control stick provided the illusion of 360-degree control, and made controlling the game much more fluid regardless.)
Wii Virtual Console version
The Genesis/Megadrive version Sonic 3D Blast was eventually made available for purchase and download through Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console service. However, the game was once again criticized in reviews, one reason being that the game can't be played using the control stick, even if you use a Classic Controller to play it. Using the control stick doesn't do anything; only the directional pad would work. (The fault for this might actually lie as much with the Virtual Console platform itself rather than the people who ported Sonic 3D Blast to it.)
Music & Audio
The music in the game was composed by Jun Senoue, Masaru Setsumaru, Seirou Okamoto, and Tatsuyuki Maeda. They all crated the Genesis version's music, while the Saturn/PC version was composed by Richard Jacques. The Mega Drive/Genesis version's soundtrack was somewhat latter used in other Jun Senoue projects; the music in Sonic Adventure had some elements of the soundtrack. The game over and continue themes were reused from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
Soon after the release of the Genesis Sonic 3D Blast, a technique was discovered to get to a debug mode, the technique was to tap the side of the Sega Genesis with some slight power with your finger, has in flicking it, soon after the screen would make a screech and then turn blue, after 2 seconds a menu would pop up allowing the player to select any level in the game with has many lives has the player wanted - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp1uTXPNlzE