Sonic Jam - "Sonic 3D Blast" (1996)

Oh, hey, it's been two months since I did one of these. I'm supposed to finish every Sonic game this year, aren't I? That's... unfortunate. I mean, I'm still going to do it, of course, but damn, they get rough, huh?

Speaking of things that are rough, how about that Sonic 3D Blast? Boy, is that ever a bad fucking game. I played it, though. For you guys. Because I love you.

It's really unfortunate that Sonic 3D Blast is technically the first 3D Sonic title, because you can't really say that Sonic Adventure is the series' "game-changing switch to the third dimension" or some hyperbole like that. Can we just pretend that that's the case? Can we just ignore Traveler's Tales' misguided garbage pail of bad ideas with Sonic slapped on the box?

No, I guess not, huh? Let's get this over with.

So, Sonic's on an island, there are little animals called Flickies, and they're getting kidnapped. If you've ever played a game in this series, at any point in time, you probably get the gist of what goes down. Sonic goes fast, he saves some animals, he does it all over again. Rinse and repeat until the game ends and you're freed from your suffering.

Except not even Sonic's speed can save you from this hell. That's because Sonic 3D Blast is an isometric slog, which Sonic is seen from an awkward bird's eye view, and moves at a weird pace that's not exactly sluggish, but also not speedy. It's like too fast to control, but too slow to move anywhere at the speed you'd want. Also you slip on the surface like soap constantly. Also the art direction is horrible and the planes aren't clearly defined.

It's... It's just bad, y'all. It's really bad.

Just... Just look at it.
Of course, there are defenders of this game. "It's ambitious." "It was ahead of its time." "The Saturn version is better." Now, that last one, I was able to put to the test. See, there were two versions of Sonic 3D Blast, one on the Genesis, one on the Saturn. The Genesis one is an unmitigated disaster of unfathomable proportions. Like, no, really. It's truly abhorrent. The graphics are muddled and horrible. The music is flatout garbage. Everything about it is honestly, truly one of the most miserable experiences available on the Genesis. Like, it's not Bubsy bad, but damn, is it ever close.

But what about the supposedly superior Saturn version? Well, it's at least not that bad. It controls a little better, it looks at least moderately okay, the music is actually pretty great. All that said? Sonic 3D Blast is just not a very good game, even in its best incarnation. The whole thing is still a misguided, awkward attempt at bringing the Blue Blur into the third dimension.

Which brings the overarching point to the forefront: this whole thing was just a bad idea to begin with. You can't take a side-scrolling franchise built on going fast and turn it into a clunky, isometric collect-a-thon. I mean, I guess you can. This obviously did. But was it a good idea? No. It's a horrible one. It sacrifices everything the franchise stood for prior and just shits all over it. The sad thing is? This is pretty much the closest thing we got to a proper Sonic title on the Saturn. The next main entry, Sonic X-Treme, was unceremoniously cancelled. More on that later, though.

For now, it's important to remember Sonic 3D Blast. It marked the true beginning of Sonic's troubled path, I think. It was the first console title where Sega looked at a complete garbage heap and said, "yeah, we want this to represent our flagship series." This is where Nintendo's main competitor decided they would be complacent in relegating their signature mascot what feels like a proof-of-concept under the guise of a retail game. The beginning of a roller coaster ride of quality. Because this wasn't just some dinky spin-off. This was a marquee Sonic release for what was supposed to be Sega's cutting edge console.

Unfortunately, the worst days for the Blue Blur were yet to come. Because shortly after Sonic 3D Blast, unsuspecting players were subjected to the lowest point that Sonic had sunk so far. In fact, it may still be the absolute worst thing to come out of the series so far...

Next Time


  1. I thought you might appreciate this...introducing the Sonic 25th Anniversary Humble Bundle!

    Which includes 3D Blast. While charming, I think the charities in need would do better without having to rely on the sales of so many crappy Sonic games. :)

    1. Oh MAN. I own so many of these, but I honestly want to pitch in for the shirt and to gift people some games.

      And agreed. That's practically dirty money!

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