I'm all for converting games to other machines. If that means a great game can be enjoyed by a greater range of people, I see no harm or foul. It's when that game doesn't survive the conversion so well that I start to care. Such is the case with the PC conversion of Sonic 3D Blast (Flickies' Island in Europe), the last pre-3D outing of Sega's blue mascot.
Sonic 3D was first released on the Sega Megadrive (Genesis in America), showing revolutionary technology for that machine, yet it was unknown that it was near the end of the Megadrive's lifespan. So what did Sega do? They converted the game to the Megadrive's big brother, the Saturn. This Sega PC version is evidently based on that - not surprising, as they have converted Saturn versions of games to the PC before, such as Virtua Fighers 1 and especially 2. Great care was taken to craft these releases, even given new features such as a portrait mode and the chance to record your own battles.
I would not make such demands of Sonic 3D PC. I would, however, make the demands that I can change the keyboard controls should I wish, that I can go back to the menu if I so please. After all, practically every single PC game in existence has these options, should you wish to start over and/or return to Windows.
I would make these demands, sure, but they were to fall on deaf ears. You have zippo options. You cannot change the button configuration, which is unfortunate considering that it's very uncomfortable indeed. You can't even substitute with a gamepad. This is extremely ironic considering that the original Genesis/Mega Drive version of Sonic 3D had both button configuration and sound test options. Well, the PC version has no sound test either, nor a way to save. The most annoying thing, though, is that there is no way to even return to the title screen. It's not even possible to restart the game other than by terminating the program with Alt+F4. I can't think of a single other game that has such an unfriendly user interface.
The game plays beautifully, though the horrid (and stuck) button configuration sucks a lot of the fun out of it. Apart from that, the game plays exactly like the forerunner does in most ways. Sonic 3D's title is a bit misleading, as it's not really 3D but an isometric game. The gaming world is laid out on surfaces split into checkerboard-like patterns, covering diverse and charming worlds. Sonic's mission is to jump on certain robots and free the little birds inside, known as Flickies. Five Flickies must be collected in order for Sonic to take them to a special ring, allowing him to move on. Should the Flickies or you be hurt, they will be scattered and you'll have to fight them again. Sonic can still Spin Dash, but it's rather tricky to control it in this gaming field (especially considering the horrid controls). Fortunately, three shields will make life easier for you, one of which allows you to perform an air dash, another protecting you (and your Flickies) from fire (particularly useful in Volcano Valley Zone, for obvious reasons).
Graphically speaking, this was more or less a successful port. The graphical side is one of the few aspects of the game to survive the conversion. Sonic travels through many lush worlds, including ancient ruins, a volcano and even a fu house full of springs. The surfaces are all more detailed than the are in the Mega Drive/Genesis version. There are even some nice cinema scenes in the beginning and end. However, everything still feels very underdeveloped. Even though this PC version of Sonic 3Dis based on the Sega Saturn one, a number of things from the Saturn port have oddly gone missing, most notably the introductory story and the scene where Tails/Knuckles takes you to the Special Stage (which is vastly inferior to the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Special Stage from which it draws inspiration).
What saddens me most about the conversion into PC, though, is something not exclusive to it, and that is the soundtrack, which also features on the Saturn version that fathered this port. The soundtrack for the original, on the Mega Drive, was composed by Jun Senoue, a seasoned and very talented video game composer. His work on Sonic Adventure shows a perfect capability of composing for the next generation of sound chips (even the melodies of his band Crush 40 were charming in their own way). Half the atmosphere of the original version of Sonic 3D flowed from Senoue's fantastic, suitably bouncy yet enthralling and compelling score. Clearly, they didn't bother to approach him for the conversion. It's not like there's anything wrong with the new compositions per se; it's just that they are nowhere near as catchy, inspiring or motivating as Jun Senoue's score. They all sound, and feel, extremely generic (the Gene Gadget Zone theme has a voice track in it that I swear is taken from the Prodigy's "Out of Space"). Why change what isn't broken? I would have preferred the original tunes to have been updated. As Sonic Adventure shows, tunes can survive the generation gap and then some. Indeed, many of the original tracks from Sonic 3D ended up in Sonic Adventure with excellent results.
If you are looking for Sonic 3D or other Sonic games for your PC, I advise you to get the Sonic Mega Collection Plus, which features all Mega Drive/Genesis games (including Sonic 3D), in perfectly converted, original versions; with the magic. As for this PC port of Sonic 3D, it is devoid of magic. In every sense.