This is taken from my Gamefaqs.com Entry on Sonic 3DBlast for the Sega Saturn review I wrote in March. http://www.gamefaqs.com/saturn/198693-s ... iew-140037
"Sonic NOT So 3D Blast."
It was the year 1996 and SEGA was in a bit of a tight spot. Despite the tremendous success of its 16-bit console the Genesis and the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise, The demand for 16-bit games waned and both the Genesis and Nintendo's Super NES begin to become obsolete. The newer systems the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 were 3D machines, henceforth consumers were looking for 3D polygon games instead of dated 2D games. To add insult to injury, the Saturn was selling poorly despite its strong following in Japan so where did this leave Sonic? in the hands of two feuding divisions of SEGA who were contesting about which direction to take the franchise, SEGA of Japan wanted to give the series a much needed 2 year hiatus, but Sega of America was hell bent on trying to use the franchise as much as they could to make money and fill their quota.
This is what led to the cancellation of Sega of America's HARD- at- work 32-bit 2D project “Sonic Xtreme” developed by Sega Techinical Institute, originally begin development in 1993 on the ill-fated Mars hardware which eventually became the doomed horrid American made “Sega 32X” Genesis attachment. Yuji Naka, Sonic Team's founder had already returned to SEGA of Japan at the time and was not interested in a NEW 2D Sonic title. Needless to say, Sega of America was left on their own and STI slowly disbanded as by early 1996 they were left with only 3 programmers but in the middle of this, SEGA of Europe developed their own 3D hybrid for the Genesis called “Sonic 3D Flickies Island” which they hoped would keep the Genesis afloat for one last time, Unfortunely “Sonic 3D Blast” turned out to be a huge failure and lackluster disappointment despite its cutting edge isometric level design and superb rendered graphics. To make matters worse, Mike Wallis at STI threw in the towel and scrapped Sonic Xtreme which led then Sega of America CEO Bernie Stolar to make a drastic and no-brainer decision to port 3D Blast over to Saturn which turned out to be a BAD marketing decision that ultimately sealed the fate of the Saturn. Which brings us to the Saturn version of Sonic 3D Blast.
Story 3/10. Much like it's 16-bit counterpart. Sonic, Miles and Knuckles much rescue small birds called “flickies” from the evil Dr. Eggman by capturing them and carrying them back to something called a “Ring portal”. These little birdies were actually from a 1984 Japanese arcade game called “Flickies” which was later released for the Sega Mark III console in '85. The story itself is bland and uninteresting and the ending is unrewarding. Almost an afterthought of a concept doomed from the start.
Graphics 9/10. This port's graphics are colorful, splendid and unique. But there's just one problem: Where's the 3D? I don't see anything in this game remotely “3D” at all. No polygons? Just beautifully rendered 2D isomeric level design. Oh, wait? The Special stage. The Special stage is 3D! It's a next-gen version of Sonic 2's half-pipe. Okay, so that means that only about 4.5% of the game is in 3D? If that's the case then why is it called “Sonic 3D Blast” shouldn't it be called “Sonic slightly 3D Blast” or “Sonic 2D and one fourth 3D Blast” why call it 3D when it's 94% 2D?
Sound. 8/10. This port has a really great soundtrack. Sega of Europe was able to find their own composer named Richard Jacques to handle the Saturn version's soundtrack. Much of the level music is very mellow and relaxing. The Special stage sounds euro-pop esce and this does give the stage a good feel to it. And while a lot of the music is solid, it doesn't save the subpar gameplay from doom. The music in Green Grove, and Rustic Ruins sounds great, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to turn the game off.
Control. 4/10. Poor. Because of the in boxed level design, the game's control is slow, sluggish and dull. Moving Sonic is a chore because he can't really run very fast. Spin dashing is also a bit irritating since Sonic's mobility is bogged down by the game's level design. The level design is actually similar to another game “Sonic Labyrinth” which was released on Game Gear a year earlier and was overlooked by consumers. The reason why Sonic Labyrinth failed is because it sucked. Also, those roly-poly hills from the earlier Sonic games are no longer fun since it's a pain in the ass for Sonic to run across.
Gameplay 2/10. Now this is where the bubble begins to burst. As I mentioned before, the isometric level design ruins the game, making it boring, drab, un fun and subpar. Much like the horrid Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic moves painfully slow. SEGA always marketed the franchise on speed. But without speed, how are you supposed to enjoy a Sonic game? Instead the gameplay is bland, repetitive and pathetically lame. The collision and hit detection is also unbalanced and since you can only get the birds from killing enemies completing levels gets really annoying. While you do have shields and invincibility, this rarely comes in handy due to the game's awful hit detection. Losing rings is something of a common pet peeve here. Did I also mention that after you collect all the flickies you have to carry them all back to the beginning of the stage? So instead of having fun you're treated to a boring and tedious assignment on each stage. Also the game has absolutely no save feature at all. Wow, Sonic CD and Sonic 3/S&K have save features but the next game after them does not? FAIL.
Oh and don't get me started on the game's antagonizing load times. (Groans.) Every single act, map and stage has to load for 2 minutes. And while you can skip levels just by holding “C” and pressing start, it doesn't stop the game's frequent loading. After skipping to the final stage, I fell asleep halfway.
Overall. 3/10. Sonic 3D Blast for both the Genesis and Saturn are lame disappointments that couldn't save themselves from failure even if they tried. On either platform, the game suffered from lackluster reviews and poor sales. When SEGA of Japan saw that Sonic fans were being left in the dark, they answered their cries with “Sonic Jam” a snazzy Sonic compilation title of the Sonic Genesis games with some cool extras. But in the end the Saturn never got a true Sonic game and SEGA of Europe once again made another terrible marketing decision with “Sonic R” a lame and half-assed racing game that became a sales disappointment. This great Greek tragedy of the latter 1990s being Sonic's lowest point in the franchise history is added to the fact that the Sega Saturn died without a true example of SEGA's mascot. Ironically the game Sonic 3DBlast did not get released in Japan until October 23, 1999 the very end of the Saturn's life.
Developer: Traveller's Tales.
Best Feature: Colorful graphics. Solid soundtrack.
Worst: Sluggish gameplay and controls. Poor Loading times. No save feature.
Released: November 19,1996.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10, Originally Posted: 03/10/10
Game Release: Sonic 3D Blast (US, 11/30/96)