Sonic 3D Blast Review

Sonic 3D Blast is a very misleading name for this game, which is a tedious and frustrating scavenger hunt dragged down further by slippery controls.

Sonic 3D Blast is entirely misleading. It doesn't have true three-dimensional gameplay, it barely plays like a true Sonic the Hedgehog game, and it most certainly isn't a blast to play. Instead, it's a mishmash of elements that completely work against one another and a frustrating, repetitive experience. The shiny prerendered graphics and familiar ring-collecting chimes may lure you into downloading this Genesis game from the Virtual Console service, but looking past Sonic 3D Blast's shiny surface should help you avoid that mistake.

Wait a second...this isn't 3D at all!
Wait a second...this isn't 3D at all!

At first, Sonic 3D Blast looks and sounds like a true Sonic game. Everything has been shifted from a side-scrolling two-dimensional view to an isometric view, but Sonic, his enemies, and his environments still look familiar, appearing more rounded thanks to prerendered sprites. The eight zones are reflective of the typical grassy, lava-ridden, and Vegas-like affairs you'd find in other Sonic games, and the music likewise bears resemblance both thematically and instrumentally. When you're hit by an enemy, the resulting clatter of rings might just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Yet, one of the game's largest failings is how it forces the speedy Sonic into its awkward, isometric view. Instead of bounding across platforms and rolling over enemies with precision, you have to intricately plan every jump and carefully aim your spin attack in one of multiple directions without the benefit of analog control. There are zigzagging slopes and loop-the-loops sparingly scattered across the zones, but the majority of the game world is wide open and flat. With such a deliberate play style, certain levels--such as one with springboards clumped together, causing you to rocket skyward with every other step--quickly become irritating.

This plodding style might be tolerable if it weren't for the touchy controls. Sonic's momentum-based physics worked in the side-scrolling games because the challenge was in knowing when to contain him or let him loose, in only one of two directions. However, those same physics completely clash with the gameplay here, and now that Sonic's free to move in eight directions, he ends up slipping and sliding about his environments like a timid child on ice skates. Much of your play time is spent with your thumbs tap-dancing on the D pad just to get Sonic in the right places to jump for rings or on enemies, and that's just no fun.

The gameplay structure in this game is an exercise in tedium and just makes things worse, because you're made to scavenger hunt for little critters called "flickies." Each zone is divided into two acts (and a third boss-battle act), which are further divided by several checkpoints. You'll need to free five flickies by destroying enemies and bring them to each checkpoint to advance to the next one. This never changes. Much of the time, these enemies are far apart from each other, and there are often barely more than five of them--leading to lots of aimless wandering just to get the required number. When you take damage, your flickies scatter, and it's easy to miss one when you're scooping them back up. You can see the flickies following you, but it's hard to tell how many there are because their sprites are so tiny and bunch together. The onscreen indicator only tells you how many of them you've freed, not how many are following you. As a result, you might expect to reach a checkpoint having freed five flickies, only to find out that you've left one far behind.

If you find yourself engaged enough in the game to uncover some of the many hidden passageways, and you've collected enough rings, you may enter a bonus stage. As per tradition, the goal here is to collect a chaos emerald, and doing so involves running through a gauntlet to collect rings. These special levels are forward-scrolling, two-dimensional layouts with rings lined up and spikes scattered about. These levels are childishly easy and get very old, very quickly.

Now this is, never mind, it's still not.
Now this is, never mind, it's still not.

Sonic 3D Blast would be forgiven for tricking us with claims of "Sonic" in "3D" if it had just a little more variety in the goals, tighter mechanics, and more-compact level design, but no such luck here. The large, wide-open levels and monotonous gameplay design force you to endure slippery controls, longer than you'd ever want to, in a tough-to-maneuver perspective, under the false pretense that you're guiding a blazingly fast mascot freely around a three-dimensional world. These elements clash so badly that you'd basically be spending 800 Wii points for a vat of oil and water, and nothing about the bright presentation can mask this.

The Good

  • Colorful graphics and chipper music

The Bad

  • Plodding and tedious collect-a-thon gameplay
  • Sloppy, slippery controls
  • Isometric perspective clashes awkwardly with emphasis on jumping

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Sonic 3D Blast

First Released Nov 9, 1996
  • Genesis
  • Linux
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • Saturn

Sonic breaks out into an isometric "3D" view in this adventure, once again trying to thwart Dr. Eggman and free small animals from robotic cages.


Average Rating

1564 Rating(s)

Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Kids to Adults
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