The Saturn never had a true Sonic game. Sure, there were Nights and Burning Rangers - two completely original offerings from Sonic Team. And Sonic did, of course, make appearances on the Saturn, but there was never a classic 32-bit platformer. What was to be - Sonic XTreme, never saw the light of day. Through countless changes in personnel, design, and deadlines, the game went through hell and never came back. Instead, a port of the Genesis' Sonic 3D Blast was carried over to tie fans over. Eventually, Sonic made his 3D debut in, of all things, Sonic R, a racer in the vein of Mario Kart that has split fans' opinions.
From out of this mess, though, came a glimmer of hope. Sonic Jam, another thinly-veiled plan to hold over the remaining Sonic fans, was released in August 1997. Featuring the four original Genesis games in the series, and decked with extras, Sonic Jam would pack some features that have yet to be in any version of these games. The originals had a few tweaks added, with a time attack mode, a save feature for all games, an alternative mode with a slightly different object layout, and for the original Sonic, the addition of the spin dash. But the real holdover was the Sonic World.
Unless you're under the age of ten, then you know these. The four classic Sonic titles are here in emulated form waiting to be played on the Saturn. Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles are here for another run-through. Just like the cartridges, Sonic & Knuckles can be "locked on" to any of the others, to unlock all of their bonus features - the endless "Get Blue Spheres" for the original, Knuckles in Sonic 2, and the way the last two were meant to be played - Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Manuals are digitally included for all of the games and are available in either English or Japanese form. Nothing has been changed, so all typos, pre-release screenshots, and enemies that weren't included are listed inside.
The games come slightly enhanced by choosing to turn the time out on or off - just in case 10 minutes is too short to get through the game. Another nice touch is the addition of the spin dash in Sonic 1 - which can be enabled or disabled for this game. After choosing to start a game, it'll ask what mode to use - Normal, Easy, or Original. Normal would be the typical American releases; Easy is a version with some different object placement, and Original is the Japanese versions, which were released a few months after their American counterparts and contained a few additional features, such as scrolling backgrounds. Lastly, all games can be saved, and continuing on is as easy as selecting the "Saved Game" option.
There are a couple of noticable differences from the Genesis originals, mostly in the sound department. Sonic 2 uses Sonic 1's invincibility music, despite Sonic 2's music being available in the sound test. Exploding sounds in S3 & Knuckles are different. And lastly, when Sonic stops in the original game, his shoes now leave skid marks.
A pure compilation of Sonic titles would have been a letdown, even in '97, so Sega jazzed up the package with the Sonic World. A 3D rendition of the classic palm-trees and checkerboards from the Green Hill Zone, the World was a mini-game as well as an interface to check out the assorted Sonic goodies that were lying around.
There are two entrances - one for the good guys, and one for the not-so-good guys. For the good guys, there's info and pictures about Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and assorted friends, while the other side has the same for Robotnik and the baddies from the four included Sonic games.
More pictures of Sonic... and friends.
Hall of Fame
Sonic's history, up until about 1998. If you haven't already checked out the info that I've copied from it, this is an interesting read. Noted Notables: Sonic is always released in Japan last. There are tons of worthless Sonic games. Sonic history needs not to be discussed after 1998.
There's some pretty cool stuff in here. As the name suggests, it's just movies of Sonic. Although Sonic CD wasn't included in this package, its opening and closing movies are found here. There's an intro/trailer for a Sonic movie, a couple of animations, and some weird-ass Japanese commercials.
This is just a sound test for all of the Sonic games. Instead of having to pop each one up individually, just come in here and check out the tunes.
Those aren't the only things floating around the level, though. The memorabilia is cool, but for a lot, just running around the Sonic World in 3D was a joy at the time. Maybe the 32-bit days were simpler, but it was a glimpse of what the Hedgehog's future may be. To get a feel for this, there was a mini-game included.
Jump on a red and white trampoline, and a timer appears. There are several missions, each requiring you to pull off a specific feat in the allotted time. Here they are:
- Get 20 Rings - Rings are littering the area. Grab them.
- Hit Three Red Lampposts - Another Sonic staple, the lamppost, is hanging around the island.
- Get 50 Rings
- Touch Tails - Even Tails makes an appearance, even if he merely flies around aimlessly. On second thought, I guess nothing has really changed.
- Hit five blue lampposts
- Find seven secrets cards - Arranged throughout the area are cards with codes to the original Sonic games.
- Pop the three balloons
- Get 100 Rings - Find every ring available.
When it's all said and done, a gigantic ring will appear by the waterfall. No, it won't bring about Super Sonic. Instead, jumping into it will roll the credits - and some hedgehog artwork.
Just a taste...
It seems like a lot of work went into the Sonic World to be essentially just a front-end for a list of memorabilia. Of course, it's not that simple. Behind the scenes, this was really just a small test for the upcoming Sonic Adventure. After the travesty of Sonic XTreme, Naka wanted Sonic back and decided to do some work of his own. The game was originally designed with the Saturn in mind, but when Sega dropped support, it was made as a show-stopper for the upcoming Dreamcast instead.
Wallpaper - Throw the Sonic Jam CD in your computer and open up the 'Extras' folder. You should find various images/wallpapers.
Bonus Mini-Game - At the title screen, select Sonic World, hold A and press Start. You will have to find 100 rings in 60 seconds.
Clean Pause - To removed the menu while the game is paused, press X, Y, and Z at the same time.
View All Movies - In the Theatre section of Sonic World, hold X, Y, and Z and press A. All of the movies will be played in order.