Hello, and welcome to the inaugural post of The Sonic Second, a regular column that I’m contributing here at Sonic United. I’ll be showcasing interesting tidbits of information, discoveries, and other trivia (mostly pertaining to “Classic Sonic”) that have been accumulated by the Sonic community over the years.
Some of you may already be familiar with the things I’ll be posting, but I’m hoping to celebrate these points of interest in an easily digestible format for a broader audience of folks who don’t have the time or inclination to scour the myriad forums and wikis for every last drop of information.
You can also follow The Sonic Second on tumblr.
I hope you enjoy!
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If you’re like me and you grew up with the Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast, never got a Sega Saturn, and didn’t game on PC, the later compact disc version of the game – with its supposed enhancements and totally different soundtrack – is a trove of latter-day “Classic Sonic” content only rediscovered in the Internet age.
Surely someone was already playing these mind-blowing Special Stages back in 1996 (as the Genesis and Saturn versions were released on the same day), but it was not me; shackled as I was to the 16-bit, I only saw Sonic running over the same rickety bridge, always with more Rings than needed by a comfortable margin, wondering if indeed the Chaos Emeralds had lowered their standards after seeing my dismal performance in Sonic 2’s punishing half-pipe.
Equally difficult for me to imagine having accompanied my Sonic 3D Blast experience at the time is the wildly different soundtrack by Richard Jacques. It still has the power to spark “which soundtrack is better” debates, though perhaps less heated than those concerning Sonic CD. My own opinion is that the Jacques soundtrack is inappropriate for the game, although I greatly like much of it on its own merits. I’m aware this is probably due to my hearing the 16-bit version first, compounded by associating some of Jacques’ tracks with the fangames that introduced them to me through their reuse. Ultimately, as with the Sonic CD situation, I think we should just count ourselves lucky to have twice as much Sonic music to enjoy.
Another fascinating aspect of the Saturn version is the art in the Japanese instruction manual. Delayed in Japan and released well after that region’s launch of the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure, the style seems like nothing so much as a hybrid between Yuji Uekawa‘s hip 1998 redesign and mid-’90s Sonic. A transitional fossil of sorts.
The PC version of the game also has its share of surprises. Tucked away on the disc, but never seen through normal play, are a handful of 320×224 rendered images.
Their intended use is currently only able to be speculated about, but it seems reasonable to assume that the one depicting Robotnik’s final weapon would have been associated with the ending, and the ones with Tails and Knuckles could have been intros for their respective Special Stages.
It would also be interesting to know if these were created along with the other assets during the 16-bit version’s development or added later for the PC version but thought better of.
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images from Sonic Retro