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Remember that little blue bird that Sonic the Hedgehog freed out of robot shells in the original 16-bit trilogy, the Flicky? It turns out they reside on Flickies' Island, where they can travel through dimensions via giant rings. Learning about this, Dr. Robotnik has decided to invade the island and trap its inhabitants inside his badnik army, that he can seize the seven Chaos Emeralds and Take Over the World.
During his usual nomadic routine, Sonic pays a visit to his little pals on Flickies' Island, only to discover they've all been imprisoned in badnik shells. Now, our true blue hero must free his friends and stop Robotnik once again.
As noted above, Sonic 3D is an isometric platformer, but that's not the only difference in gameplay. Beating an act is not done by reaching the goal as soon as you can; instead, you have to collect a set of five flickies and bring them to a giant ring; there are usually 2-3 giant rings, and once you successfully deposit each set , you beat the act. The only acts exempt from flicky collect-a-thons are boss acts and an act near the end of the game which plays like a classic Sonic stage.
Sonic 3D was released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and then for the Sega Saturn--to compensate for the cancellation of the game that was supposed to be the Saturn's Killer App, Sonic X-Treme--as well as the PC.
The Saturn version somewhat rectifies the control issues by offering the analog pad as an alternative to the D-Pad, has a CD-quality soundtrack composed by Richard Jacques, additional graphical effects such as fog, and a polygonal special stage, but lacks a save game feature (despite being on a system with a memory card-esque feature!) and has long loading times. The PC version includes Jacques' soundtrack and a save game feature, but lacks some of the Saturn version's other features such as the polygonal special stage.
- Alliterative Name: All of the zone names.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Archie Comics published a 48-page special featuring a story based on the game's plot, while Fleetway's Sonic the Comic did a very loose adaptation in issues 104-106.
- Conveyor Belt O' Doom: The setting for the Gene Gadget Zone boss.
- Eternal Engine: Gene Gadget Zone and Panic Puppet Zone.
- Green Hill Zone: Green Grove Zone.
- Leitmotif: In the Saturn/PC version, Robotnik's normal theme is remixed into something more epic and sinister for the final boss music. It also makes a brief cameo in the Bad Ending.
- Lethal Lava Land: Volcano Valley Zone, complete with leaping fireballs and collapsing stone bridges.
- Logo Joke: Instead of the usual "Seeeee-gaaaaa" chant, North American releases of the game opened with the "SEGA!" scream from the Genesis and Saturn's ad campaigns.
- Multiple Endings: Didn't get all the Emeralds? Well then you get the Bad Ending, which alludes to Robotnik returning. Get them all? Then you gain access to The Final Fight, which is pretty self explanatory, and if you beat it, you get the Good Ending.
- Our Founder: In Puppet Panic Act 2, Sonic has to reach the top of a giant Robotnik statue through his nose. The boss fight for the stage takes place inside the statue.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Diamond Dust Zone
- Spiritual Successor: To the Flicky arcade game.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change - The entire game involves killing badniks to free flickies. But then Panic Puppet comes. Act 1 has you freeing them in pods. Act 2 lacks them entirely. The manual handwaves it by saying that Robotnik hasn't had time to put them in the badniks yet as Sonic got there sooner than expected.