After producing three Sonic titles for the Genesis/Megadrive Sega decided to do something a little different – instead of creating another platformer they produced an isometric adventure with CGI rendered graphics, and farmed the development out to highly talented UK studio Traveller’s Tales (who more recently have been responsible for the Lego Star Wars franchise).
The result is a game that divides Sonic fans.
Starting with the positives – the CGI visuals are stunning considering the hardware, the animation is excellent and the level design is colourful and varied. Although Sonic has lost much of his trademark speed, the game controls well generally. The boss battles are great fun and improve on the rather predictable encounters previously seen in other Sonic titles, and the special bonus stages really push the Megadrive as far as it could possibly go.
Sadly, Sonic 3D Blast is ultimately undone by a catalogue of negative points.
The gameplay is extremely repetitive – your aim is to collect Flickies and this becomes very dull after prolonged play, with only the boss and bonus stages breaking the monotony. The isometric viewpoint makes judging some jumps difficult and generally the game deviates a little too much from what makes Sonic great – something that we would sadly see more of in later Sonic titles.
It’s worth noting that an improved Saturn port was released in 1997 and is well worth tracking down if you’re not keen on the look of the 16-bit edition. Just don’t expect a classic Sonic title!