“Sonic 3D Blast is unmissable if you’re the kind of fan who wants to experience all the deep, dusty corners of Sonic’s past adventures.”
Modern Day Price Range and Availability
Sonic 3D Blast is one of those games that is quite difficult to acquire these days. If you’re able to play it on a PC, check out the Steam release for only 5 dollars. I own a copy from the Wii Shop (Genesis version), but there are other editions of Sonic 3D Blast that came with retro Sonic collections released for the PS3 and Xbox 360, if you want to play it on those consoles.
A One-of-a-Kind Sonic Game
You’ll notice that I’ve given this game its highest score in the Mood Rating. This is because Sonic 3D Blast is an experience unlike any other Sonic game, in an unending number of ways. From its iconic, first-and-last-time isometric 2D stage layout, to its quasi-3D sprites and synth tunes (plus Sonic Adventure music?!), Sonic 3D Blast is unmissable if you’re the kind of fan who wants to experience all the deep, dusty corners of Sonic’s past adventures.
In-game, apart from seeing the iconic blue blur tapping his foot onscreen, little else alerts you to the fact that this is a classic Sonic game. Unlike previous games, you can’t advance just by reaching the goal at maximum speed. No, in this game, Sonic’s aim is to free five Flickies, the colorful birds trapped inside enemies, and lead them to the goal ring, where he’ll spin inside and your score will be tallied. Hazards lurk at every step while you hunt for each of five enemies scattered across the stage, and once you defeat them all, you’ll have every Flicky following behind you. But don’t lose them after getting hurt! As much as that sounds like an escort mission, believe me when I say that this game is no less fun than any other of Sonic’s bouts in 3D. In fact, for longtime fans, you’ll be amazed by how much this game set the stage for many of the mechanics used by later entries, especially Adventure. The opening movie for the Saturn version, touting plenty of winding shots showcasing Sonic’s blinding speed, is definitely reminiscent of Sonic Adventure’s opening.
While we’re on the topic of music, let me remind you that the two versions of this game sport very different soundtracks. If you heard from someone that a song from MSR is in here (or vice versa), you’re looking for the upbeat, funky Jacques tunes in the Saturn version. If you heard a track that sounds like it came from Sonic Adventure, you’ll soon see that quite a few of these tracks had origins in the Genesis edition of 3D Blast, which was the version I played. Each version’s OSTs are remarkably different, following a trend that was apparently common in ‘90s Sonic entries, an infamous example being Sonic CD.
The graphics are also markedly different between the Genesis and Saturn versions. Having only played the Genesis version, I had no idea there were version differences until accidentally stumbling across screenshots of the Saturn version online. While the Genesis version is certainly impressive, the Saturn version looks and sounds smoother, with lots of extra detailing on the stages, like textured floor tiles. And the two games each have their own unique special stage, too – on the Genesis, you get an above-view track to collect rings on, where it’s easy to see ahead; on the Saturn, you have to swing Sonic left and right on a 3D half-pipe, with the camera sitting behind him a little above his eye level, and everything looks a lot like Sonic R!
Gameplay in 3D Blast is surprisingly smooth, but still challenging; stages can leave you feeling dizzy at first, and taking damage means your Flickies start flying away in a panic. Once you do a few laps searching for bad guys, though, you’ll be zooming around without any fear. Then again, later zones present you with some real terror-inducing hazards that will have you wishing you could use save states, but if you’re interested enough to have read this far, then I’m sure you already have the courage and patience to try again and again!
Now, let’s shift the topic over a little. I have always argued, and will always argue, that there is no such thing as “Classic Sonic” and “Modern Sonic.” Why should there be a difference between Sonics that were made only a few years apart in the ’90s? If the graphics got better, and Sonic became more detailed, well, his personality’s still the same – that’s what I always thought playing the original Sonic on a GBA alongside SADX on the GameCube in elementary school. I just want to point out that, at least in my eyes, Sonic’s Saturn games are quite the literal bridge between his 2D and 3D (or classic and modern) iterations. These games, and their art direction in particular, have elements of both “classic” and “modern” Sonic in them, and until Sonic Generations came out, there was no indication that Sonic’s core essence or personality changed during his transition into 3D. Sonic 3D Blast will show you the free-spirited, impatient but heroic protagonist we all love!
If I haven’t gotten it through to you already, Sonic 3D Blast is a very particular game. I want to stress that those who played either 2D or 3D entries exclusively probably won’t pick this game up and feel comfortable playing it from the get-go, but that’s certainly no reason to walk away from this masterpiece. Sure, you could play the whole thing overnight if you were that good, but it really is worth that sensation that you’re inside a piece of history. It’s as though someone hurled Yoshi’s Story for the N64 at a roller coaster in Twinkle Park and, pow! This strange, exhilarating, quite clearly dated piece of software came floating down on a ray of light. Charming and speedy, with just enough difficulty to make you want to break a few pencils in half, Sonic 3D Blast is a real diamond in Sonic’s repertoire. Although it wasn’t enough to cushion the Saturn on the way to its fated demise, if you can find a way to play it on a newer console or on PC, you’ll be led into a wonderfully nostalgic, retro Sonic world, filled to bursting with uplifting adventure.