Review by discoinferno84

Reviewed: 09/06/05

I want to run...

A long time ago, there was a video game character named Sonic the Hedgehog. He was a spiky blue fiend that could run at incredible speeds, allowing him to zoom throughout massive levels, pick up rings, and free his animal brethren from an evil mastermind. He was loved and cherished by many, a mascot for a prominent video game company. But like the company he hailed from, Sonic suffered as competition moved in to squeeze him out of the market, leaving him in the dust to be forgotten by a whole new generation of gamers. And while his beloved company struggled to stay afloat amidst such hard and trying times, Sonic himself was subjected to a share of painfully embarrassing games that would tarnish the hard-earned reputation of his beloved series. Sonic 3D Blast was such a game.

If there’s one thing that Sonic is good at, it’s kicking Dr. Robotnik’s rear end from Green Hill Zone to Angel Zone Island and back. The hedgehog and the doctor have squared off more times than you can shake a stick at, yet the premise always remains the same; Dr. Robotnik wants to take over the world, Sonic must stop him. At this point, the plot device has become so overused it’s tiresome. Yet we find the characters in the same predicament yet again, only with a few twists tacked on. The mad doctor hasn’t learned from his prior mistakes and is plotting to kidnap the local animals and turn them into his mindless robotic slaves, which will then aid him in finding the missing Chaos Emeralds. Accordingly, Sonic must step up and take him out yet again. Robotnik has targeted the Flickies, a race of strange birds inhabiting the island. However, these birds of prey aren’t your typical victims. They hail from an alternate dimension, using a makeshift portal to go from their world to ours. It’s up to Sonic to save these creatures and restore harmony to both sides.

Okay, so it sounds like a typical Sonic game. You’re supposed to run throughout a level, destroy some robots, face off against the boss and go onto the next level, right? However, this game takes everything that we know and hold dear about the Sonic series and throws it out the window for something entirely different. This version of the blue hedgehog’s adventures puts him in the middle of a not quite three-dimensional world, complete with hills, curves, waterfalls, metal springs, and everything else you’d find in most Sonic games. Thankfully for all the hardened fans out there, this game implements two of the classic gameplay aspects of the series. Sonic can curl up into a ball, accelerate, and go zooming across the area. As usual, our hero is completely defenseless on his own. But when he picks up some golden rings, he’ll be protected from harm. If he gets hit, the rings go flying, and he’ll be doomed to die without some careful handling.

However, the similarities end there. In the older Sonic games, all you had to do was get to the end of the level, beat the boss, and set the animals free from their prisons. In this game, you must actively seek out every single Flicky one by one as you progress through the level. That’s right, you’re charged with the tedious task of exploring every inch of every level and collecting all of the poor little multidimensional birdies! Oh yeah, that sounds like fun. You’ll wander throughout these moderately sized areas in hopes of finding Robotnik’s latest victims, only to discover that they’ve all been converted to robots. After attacking and getting them back to normal, these cute little creatures will start following you around, mimic your moves, and keeping pace with Sonic’s incredible speed. Once you’ve gotten the Flickies safely under your supervision, you next objective is to get them to the ring-shaped portal located somewhere within the level. Once you’ve gotten them all through, you’re allowed to go onto the next area. If you happened to forget about one of them, you’ll be forced to continue your search.

It’s easily one of the most boring and tedious gaming ideas ever conceived, let alone for the Sonic series. At least the graphics are somewhat presentable. The world is depicted with an angled camera, a primitive and decent attempt at a three-dimensional game. The floors of the levels are colored in checkerboard style, serving as a way to keep you from losing your bearings. Of course, even that won’t help you. When you combine a crappy camera angle with Sonic’s high speed, you’ve got a disaster just waiting to happen. Though the animations run smoothly, the actual control is awkward, forcing you to start and stop your runs as you continue to make adjustments. Most of the surroundings are colorful and vibrant, matching well with the levels of the preceding games. Too bad Sonic’s design makes him look more like a Cro-Magnon than a spiky blue hedgehog. The fact that the game has a horribly bland soundtrack doesn’t help matter much, either. In the end, it’s nothing more than a mixed bag of average ideas and pathetic implementations.

What happened, Sonic? Why does this game reek of bad quality? Why can’t you go back and reclaim the former glory that you commanded with a white-gloved fist? Is it really too late for you to come back to the fans who loved you so? Will the Sonic series ever go back to its roots, when it was truly great? I don’t know. All I know is that Sonic 3D Blast is a poor attempt at a video game, something unbefitting of one of Sega’s most prominent gaming series. The idea, the execution, the presentation, every aspect of this game could have been improved substantially. Sonic was meant to run free and fast across the vast plains of his forefathers, not amble around the jungle searching for wild birds.Yet here we are almost a decade later, and it’s still one of a few dark spots on Sonic’s checkered run in the gaming industry. What ever happened to that blur of blue fur, the one that could move at Sonic speed? I want him back.

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

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