It’s hard to believe that Sonic the Hedgehog has been around for 28 years. Over the last few decades, Sonic has produced some of the best, as well as some of the worst, that the gaming industry has to offer. While Mario was the character to save the industry after the great video game crash of ’82, Sonic was the first and most successful character to challenge the portabello Italian plumber. Whereas Mario was just about getting to the end of the level, Sonic was all about getting to the end as fast as possible.
While Sonic is nowhere as famous as he was back in the ’90s, He’s still is one of the most iconic characters in gaming. He’s had dozens of games that manage to sell in the millions, four cartoon series, an anime series, an OVA film, and an upcoming live-action movie (the less we say about that, the better.) What better way to celebrate Sonic’s Birthday than taking a look back at some of his best games. So, from us at Keengamer, Happy Birthday Sonic. Here’s to 28 more years of you.
10) Sonic Adventure 2
Depending on who you ask, the original Sonic Adventure was either a successful transition of the series to the third dimension or the start of where everything went wrong with the series. While Sonic Adventure still manages to be a divisive title to this day, Sonic Adventure 2 is sought in a more positive light than it’s predecessor. Whereas the original was criticized for putting too much emphasis on Sonic’s Pals, Sonic Adventure 2 was much more focused in its approach to gameplay. Where Sonic Adventure 2 accel the most was in its speed sections. While controlling Sonic and then-newcomer Shadow is a bit twitchy by today’s standards, they still manage to feature fast-paced gameplay that the franchise is known for. Less successful were Tails/Dr. Eggman shooting galleries, which made for some mindless(if somewhat repetitive) fun and Knuckles/Rouge treasure hunting sections that pulled the breaks back on the speed.
Also, the Chao are just awesome (R.I.P Hiya)
9) Sonic the Hedgehog
The original Sonic the Hedgehog is the game that started it all. All the ring collecting, all the loop-de-loops, all the attitude, and so on. But, what will surprise people who pick it up now is that the original Sonic is more about good-ole jumping around than running fast. While Sonic is now known for being the fastest thing alive, he’s not as fast as he was in his first ever outing. He still moves much quicker than his rival, Mario, but nowhere as fast as he was in later installments. Sonic the Hedgehog is still a fun pick-up-and-play game, but it has shown its age, with some occasionally annoying level design. Still, the original deserves a spot on this list.
8) Sonic & Knuckles
While Sonic 3 was the first game to feature Knuckles the Echidna, it was the first to let the easily tricked hot head as a playable character. Like Sonic, Knuckles was able to run at blazing speed, but he was also able to glide for a while and climb on ledges. These new abilities were able to help freshen up the same great gameplay that Sonic is known for. In addition to a solid, if familiar game, Sonic & Knuckles allowed players to attach the cartridges of Sonic 2 and 3 to enable players to play as Knuckles in those games. Did it make those games easier? Yeah, but who didn’t want to fly around Chemical Plant Zone? It made for an innovated little title that helped supplant Sonic’s legacy of one of the great video game icons… & Knuckles.
7) Sonic Generations
After the success of Sonic’s last 3D adventure(we’ll get to that one in a bit), Sonic decided to celebrate his 20th birthday by combining the old and the new. In this installment, players got to control classic Sonic as he jumped and spin-dashed his way through past and present levels. Meanwhile, Modern Sonic was able to blaze through levels with his powerful boost speed and homing attacks. For the most part, this mix of old and new made for a great time. The only complaints were the short length of the game(only about 4 hours) and a few of the levels being more annoying than fun(looking at you Crisis City). Still, compared to Sonic’s lows, Sonic Generations made for a solid little title that did an excellent job in celebrating Sonic’s past and future.
6) Sonic Rush
Sonic Rush is a game that really doesn’t get enough recognition and praise as other 2D Sonic titles. While the Sonic Advance titles were fun little games, it was Sonic Rush that was the definitive Sonic game on the go. Sonic Rush combined the fast speed gameplay with a brand new boost mechanic that had the blue blur bursting through enemies like nothing. While it required energy to fill up, Sonic could gain plenty by pulling off some tricks performed with the quick press of the R button. Along with Sonic, fans got to play as a new character in Blaze the Cat. She runs just as fast as Sonic but can also use fire to glide around for a little bit. Okay, so she plays exactly like Sonic, but it still made for some great replay value. It’s a great title that managed to capture the essence of Sonic, even if it’s a little easier than usual. Also, that Soundtrack was pretty tight.
5) Sonic Colors
After years of awful Sonic games, Sonic Team finally managed to turn around Sonic’s losing streak with this excellent installment. Sonic Colors took the part of its predecessor, Sonic Unleashed, that worked and was able to make this exciting Sonic game. Sonic Colors had players racing across Eggman’s space carnival to put a stop to the evil doctor from enslaving aliens called wisps. These little guys turned out to be crucial to gameplay, as they granted Sonic various abilities to mix up the fast gameplay. Along with granting Sonic his trademark boost dash, they also let him become a drill, a spike ball, shoot across stages like a laser, and much more. Sonic Colors also featured some truly excellent level design that had you thinking fast and moving through at the speed of sound. While there were a few difficulty spikes, Sonic Colors still holds up as a wonderful title and the best 3D Sonic game ever made. Now, only if SEGA could put this gem on the Switch.
4) Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic 3 once again has Sonic stopping Eggman (or Robotnik, as he was called back then). However, The blue blur now has to deal with a new foe in Knuckles the Echidna. Sonic 3 wasn’t that much of a departure from past games, but it did offer some of the most refined gameplay in the series. The sense of speed was still exhilarating and the various new shield abilities added for some fun new mechanics. Not much to say here, just a dang good Sonic game.
3) Sonic Mania
The most recent Sonic game is also one of his best. After the nightmare that was Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Sonic was once again put in a negative light. Rather than having Sonic Team take a crack at another 2D Sonic game, SEGA decide to have game developer Christian Whitehead and a group of fangame makers to develop a brand new game. The end product was a game the perfectly honored and celebrated Sonic’s 25th anniversary. Sticking to what works best for Sonic (2D), Sonic Mania was a love letter to the series roots, combining excellent level design and beautiful sprite animation to make one of Sonics best games. While it still suffered occasionally from the trial-and-error gameplay the series is known for, it still made for a much better game than the underwhelming Sonic Forces.
2) Sonic the Hedgehog 2
While Sonic the Hedgehog started it all, Sonic 2 was the one that made Sonic a household name. This was the game the truly made Sonic the fastest thing alive, with blazing speeds that were only possible with the blast processing power of the SEGA Genisis. Along with great music and gameplay, Sonic 2 also introduced Sonic’s best pal, Miles “Tails” Prower, the two-tailed fox who could fly around. He didn’t do that much for gameplay, but it’s always nice to have a buddy along for the ride.
1) Sonic CD
While the SEGA CD was one of the biggest flops in the gaming industry, it did have a few quality titles. The one that everyone remembers the most was Sonic CD. This game had everything; amazing graphics that occasionally switched to 3D, fast-paced gameplay, great level design, fantastic music, and one of the catchiest opening songs of all time. If there’s one Sonic the Hedgehog game you have to play, it’s Sonic CD.
So, that’s our list. Did your favorite Sonic game make the cut? Tell us what your favorite Sonic games are in the below.