Sonic, the world's fastest hedgehog, had come to a dead stop by 1996. His last few games had been repetitive and there had been no major innovations to the Sonic series since 1994. Sony had debuted their Playstation, Mario had gone 3D with Super Mario 64, and Sega's latest effort, the Sega Saturn, had to escape the shadow of the doomed Sega 32X. Sega outsourced their Sonic characters to Traveller's Tales to bring Sonic and friends into the third dimension on the Sega Genesis. The end result was Sonic 3D Blast (aka Sonic 3D: Flickies Island in Europe).

In Sonic 3D Blast Sonic travels to Flicky's Island, the remote island where the flicky birds live. Upon arriving, however, he discovers that Dr. Robotnik has kidnapped the flickies and trapped them inside evil robots. This all sounds pretty standard for a Sonic game, but the twist is that instead of a side-scroller, S3DB is set in a 3/4 isometric view. The A and C buttons perform the spin jump, while the B button activates the spin dash. Sonic must crash into the robots scattered around the level to free the flickies, then he must grab them and take them to the giant gold ring. Each level has a different number of flickies that need rescuing.

Speaking of levels, each zone is divided into two levels followed by a boss act. Furthermore, each level can have multiple parts. The zones are...

  • Green Grove Zone
  • Rusty Ruin Zone
  • Spring Stadium Zone
  • Diamond Dust Zone
  • Volcano Valley Zone
  • Gene Gadget Zone
  • Panic Puppet Zone
  • The Final Fight (only accessible if Sonic has collected all the Chaos Emeralds)

While all of this is going on Sonic must collect the usual gold rings and bring them to Knuckles or Tails who are hidden around the level. Delivering at least fifty rings to one of them sends Sonic to a bonus round where he can collect a Chaos Emerald.

The graphics are impressive to behold. The sprites and backgrounds themselves all sport a semi-3D, rendered look. Some rotating objects even have so many frames in their animations that they really look like they’re being drawn in 3D. It’s for the most part very technically impressive, brightly colored, and accurately detailed. All of the sound effects carry over from past Sonic games, providing a feeling of familiarity. One of the major drawbacks about the game is a lack of a password or save system. Completing this game requires a long marathon play session with lots of caution and 1-up hoarding. There are no continues either, making the challenge increase further.

Sonic 3D Blast was poorly received by fans of the blue blur. Most gamers had moved on from the Sega Genesis to the Sony Playstation or Nintendo 64, and the ones that had chosen the Sega Saturn as their next generation console had to wait nearly two years for a port of the game to arrive on their console. Making matters worse, the Saturn version was identical to the Genesis version (graphics and all) with the exception of new bonus rounds. The game was later ported to the PC platform with little fanfare and was a part of 2002's Sonic Mega Collection compilation for the Nintendo GameCube. This game basically marked the end of the line for Sonic until the launch of the Sega Dreamcast and the Sonic Adventure series. His first actual real totally 3D adventure, Sonic X-treme, was cancelled before completion and a compliation title called Sonic Jam was a reinterpreation of past Genesis titles. Sonic 3D Blast is a fun diversion but is not recommended for extensive play.