:: Sonic Jam ::
Last update: 03/17/07
:: Quick Jump ::
Gameplay Info |
Lost in Translation |
Behind the Screens |
:: Gameplay Info ::
At the Tokyo Game Show in April '97, Sega announced "Project Sonic", a promotional campaign aimed at increasing market awareness of the
Sonic brand. Despite his rampant success on Western shores, the blue hero had, up to that time, failed to woo players on his own side of the Pacific. With
the Saturn hanging tough in Japan and floundering badly in the West, Sega prepared to give their flagship license another big push in the hopes of convincing
Japanese players to give the series a second look while reminding Western players why they all bought Mega Drives. Sonic Jam, a compilation of the original
MD Sonic games, was the first title released as part of the Project Sonic campaign.
All four of the defining Mega Drive games are playable from the main menu: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3,
and Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic 1 now features the option to enable the Spin Dash while S&K features full lock-on compatability with the other three titles.
Players have a number of options in each game sub menu:
- Game Start -- Begin the game in one of three difficulty modes.
- Normal: The original version of the game with certain (perhaps unfair) obstacles removed or patched up.
- Easy: A stripped down version with a number of obstacles removed. Each Zone only has 1 Act and there are no bosses.
- Original: The game as it originally appeared in all its 16-bit glory. The most difficult of the 3 modes.
- Saved Game: A flash save feature that lets you continue your game from the Zone you left off at.
- Extra Game --
- Time Attack: Race the clock for the best time on any stage accessed in the main game. The top 3 times for each Act are recorded.
- Special Stage: Play all of the game's Special Stages in succession.
- Option --
- Digital Manual: View complete scanned instruction manuals (both the Japanese and US versions).
- Time Out: Enable or disable the 10 minute timer.
- Exit -- Return to the game selection screen.
Well-emulated Mega Drive titles aside, Sonic Jam's showcase feature is the Sonic World, a small 3D playground with a number of bonus
features. Players use the D-pad or analog stick to maneuver a polygonal Sonic through an open Green Hill-esque course filled with series paraphernalia
(Rings, springs, etc.). Press buttons A, B, or C to jump and use the L and R triggers to rotate the camera. Nestled in each corner of the field is a
"museum" of Sonic history or lore. (The museum BGM is a remix of the Sonic 3 save select BGM.)
- Art Gallery -- A collection of colorful drawings, mostly from the Sonic screensaver.
- Movie Theater -- A collection of movie clips. Hold down X+Y+Z and press A to view all the movies in sequence.
- Sonic CD opening
- Sonic CD ending
- A trailer for the Sonic anime OVA
- An unidentified clip of Western-style Sonic animation
- A CG clip from a scrapped amusement center ride
- A series of Japanese television commercials, including Sonic 1 (2 commercials), Sonic 2 (2 commercials), Sonic 3, Sonic Spinball, Sonic CD,
Sonic & Tails, Sonic & Tails 2, and Sonic Drift.
- Music Shop -- Music and SFX tests for Sonic 1, 2, 3, S&K, and Sonic Jam.
- Character House -- Character profiles and conceptual sketches for Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Eggman. Also includes Sonic's original friends (Flicky,
Picky, Pocky, Rocky, Pecky, and Cucky) along with most of the major robot enemies from all 4 MD games.
- Hall of Fame -- A timeline of major release dates and significant events in Sonic history from the series conception in April 1990 through the release of
the Sonic Screensaver in February, 1997.
In addition to the museum houses, a series of bonus Time Attack Games can be played within the 3D hub itself. To initiate one, jump onto
the red & white peppermint switch near the starting point. The object in each challenge is to tag the requisite number of items (Rings, balloons, etc.) then
return to the peppermint switch within the time limit. Once a challenge has been cleared, the goal items remain on the field as decoration. Clear all 8
challenges and a giant Special Ring appears above the waterfall: leap in to access the credit roll.
- 20 Rings ........... 1'00"00
- 3 Red Points ....... 1'00"00
- 50 Rings ........... 1'00"00
- Touch Miles ........ 1'30"00
- 5 Blue Points ...... 1'30"00
- 7 Secret Cards ..... 2'00"00 (cards feature cheats for the MD games)
- 3 Balloons ......... 2'00"00
- 100 Rings .......... 2'30"00
:: Comparison ::
Toy manufacturer Tiger Electronics maintained a good relationship with Sega throughout the 90's, releasing handheld LCD versions of almost
every major Sonic game. Toward the latter half of the decade, the company made a bid for Game Boy domain with the Game.com, a monochrome handheld most
notable for its touch screen and internet features. Tiger took advantage of its standing relationship with Sega to fortify the Game.com with properties
borrowed directly from Saturn, including a primitive port of Sonic Jam.
This handheld compilation features stages and sprites culled from Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. All three showcase heroes are
playable: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Special Stages are based on the Sonic 3 style, though there are no Emeralds to obtain: clear the stage to earn a
10,000 point bonus. (Screenshots thanks to BriPro.com.)
:: Lost in Translation ::
Sonic Jam was released in the US and Europe within a couple of months of the Japanese release. Changes between each version are minimal.
Cartridge graphics at the game select menu have been altered and text in the Sonic World museums has been translated. (Curiously, both the US and European
versions still feature Japanese TV commercials in the Movie Theater. A Sega rep at the time mentioned that if domestic commercials had been used, the
original actors would had to have been paid royalties.)
:: Codes ::
Demo mode: At the title screen, highlight the "Sonic World" option, then hold down A and press START. This accesses the "demo" version of the Sonic
World: the field is cleared of all but default items, Sonic cannot enter museums, there are no Flickies, and a 60 second countdown restricts the time you
have with which to run aimlessly around the barren field. Once your allotted time is up, you can replay the pointless scene or return to the title.
Clean Pause: At any point during any game, pause and hold X+Y+Z to eliminate the pause menu.
PC goodies: Pop the game disc into a PC CD drive to access bitmap wallpapers adequate for sprucing up a dreary Windows desktop.
:: Miscellanea ::
- Hungry gamers who purchase Sonic Jam may be disappointed to find that, despite its name, the product is quite inedible. However, a limited edition
promotional item was available at the same time: actual Sonic jam, adequate for spreading on toast.
Written content and original graphics copyright © 1997-2007 Jared Matte. Hosting and administration thanks to Nathan Tsui. Sonic the Hedgehog characters,
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