Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island/Development
From Sonic Retro
Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island had gone through several changes over its development process. There are several rejected ideas, level designs, and other things that were left on the cutting room floor. The following details several of these things.
After slow sales for the Sega Saturn in the West, Sega of America and Sega of Europe requested a new Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Mega Drive. Sega of Japan decided to outsource development to the UK-based studio Traveller's Tales, based on the strength of their Toy Story game. Traveller's Tales initially turned down Sega's offer to develop another Mega Drive game, wanting to concentrate on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn instead, until Sega revealed that the project was the next game in the Sonic series.
Sonic Team's Hirokazu Yasuhara, Takashi Iizuka and Takao Miyushi were responsible for the game design and level maps, leaving the programming and art to Traveller's Tales. Head of Travellers' Tales, Jon Burton, wrote most of the code while artistic duties were headed by James Cunliffe. In the beginning, the project was known as Sonic Spindrift, before becoming Sonic Blast by E3 1996.
A two-player split-screen was originally planned for the game, but was cancelled due to difficulties seeing what lay ahead with the isometric perspective.
The full-screen introduction video was kept secret from Sega, and revealed only two weeks before the game was set to be finished.
In addition to the original Sega Mega Drive version, Sonic 3D was later ported to the Sega Saturn to make up for the cancellation of Sonic X-treme. The game was ported in seven weeks, and uses the same Motorola 68000 source code of the Mega Drive version, albeit one converted into C through a special compiler created for the project. Any enhanced graphics or special effects run on top of the game and do not interact with the original source code in any way.
A minigame called Sonic Pool was considered for inclusion in the Saturn version but was scrapped in favour of a more traditional "tube" special stage.
Many prototypes of Sonic 3D have been found over the years. The first to be found was this 2006 cartridge prototype. Then in 2008 drx released 7 more Mega Drive protos: beta 73, beta 814, beta 819, beta 825, beta 830, beta 831, and beta 94. The 825 beta is quite similar to the 2006 cartridge prototype. At this same time a Saturn tech demo was also found.
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|Main article: Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island test plan|
What seems to be a checklist used when testing Sonic 3D in North America has been found.
PAL cover art
For the European cover art (also used in Australia), Sega Europe subcontracted the work to London-based design firm Me Company, best known for creating album covers with singer Björk, as well as a variety of other acts during the 1990s. Sonic's head was modelled in clay and then digitised, before being made to look like a 3D model. While the exact details are unknown, Me Company are known to have used Macintosh computers running Infini-D around this period.
This design was only ever used in PAL territories - the US and Japan opted for their own looks.
At around May 1996 during development, Jun Senoue composed demo versions of some of the tracks that would be included in the Mega Drive version of Sonic 3D, and an AXIA J'z2 Type II High Position cassette tape containing these recordings, labelled "Sonic 3D Demo Takes #1", was sent to Jon Burton by Sega for review. The tracks on the tape were composed and recorded on a synthesiser, and would be converted for play on the Mega Drive if approved.
Images of the tape were shown off on Jon's YouTube channel GameHut on October 2nd, 2017, but was initially reluctant to upload the recordings out of concerns over copyright with Sega and wished to seek permission. However due to growing concerns of losing the recordings due to outbreaks of fires in California in 2018 and 2019, Jon gradually uploaded the recordings onto YouTube.
Due to the recordings originating from a cassette tape, the tracks contain a fair amount of tape hiss, wow, and flutter. Some of these tracks were left out of the game for various reasons as described in the Notes column.
|A-1||Opening (short ver.)|
|A-2||Opening (long ver.)|
|A-4||Green Alley Zone, Act 1||"Green Alley Zone" was an early name for Green Grove Zone. The song stutters during the second loop, which occurred on the original tape.|
|A-5||Casino Night Zone, Act 1||"Casino Night Zone" was an early name for Spring Stadium Zone.|
|A-6||Boss (minor key)||Exists as an unused song in some of the prototypes, and was later dropped from the game as Jon didn't like it. Jun would later repurpose the track for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.|
|B-1||Boss (major key)||Same as above, but in a major key.|
|B-2||Special Stage||This track would instead be used for the introduction sequence and Panic Puppet Zone Act 1.|
|B-3||Bonus Stage (Miles)||This track would be used for the Special Stage for both Tails and Knuckles.|
|B-4||Bonus Stage (Knuckles)||This track was scrapped due to cartridge restraints. It would later be repurposed for the Pleasure Castle area in Sonic Adventure's Twinkle Park.|
The images in this section only apply to the Mega Drive version.
Sega are thought to have released three screenshots of Green Grove Zone around the time of E3 1996. All are likely mockups - they each lack a heads up display and give Sonic a circular shadow, and the hedgehog is placed in impossible situations.
The Crab badnik doesn't exist in the final game, nor should it exist, as all flickies are collected. It's also not possible to walk under a bridge in the final game.
This early title card image is similar to the one found in Sonic & Knuckles.
Green Grove Zone
This looks like a playable build, however the icons in the HUD are possibly simpler placeholders.
The flicky portion of the HUD may be static - despite having collected five flickies, the HUD only claims Sonic has two.
Three flickies following Sonic but again, only two are shown in the HUD.
The images in this section apply to the Saturn version only.
|Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island|