The recent launch of Sonic Mania has reminded us dear reader that yes, there are good Sonic games out there. I know, I know, we’ve been burned so many times before, but it’s true – good Sonic games do exist. And so, in celebration of the first great Sonic game since we all thought we looked good in those turquoise and purple spring jackets we here at Link-Cable decided to bust out our boomboxes and hit the streets in our freshest kicks! ‘Wait? What?’ ‘We decided to count down the best Sonic games instead?’ ‘But I just found six D batteries for this thing!’ ‘Ugh, fine here are the Top 10 Best Sonic Games.’
Note: Since Sonic Mania is so new we’ve decided to exclude it from this list. Check back later for our full review to see how it stacks up.
10 – Sonic Rush Adventure
Kicking off this list is probably the least remembered game on this list. Launching about in the middle of the DS’s life, Sonic Rush Adventure released at a time where the Sonic brand was in the midst of a pretty steep decline, no thanks to a steady stream of sub-par games being released on consoles. So it’s not surprising that many gamers chose to pass up on this game, though they missed out on a pretty fun 2D Sonic game that introduced a lot of new, fast-paced elements to the series.
9 – Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
The Sonic series isn’t known for its high quality spin-off titles (this is the only one to make this list) but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is the exception to that rule. With gameplay made up of Mario Kart’s zany course and Diddy Kong Racing‘s vehicle transformations brought together with Sonic’s signature speed, this game showed that it was possible to make a good Sonic racing game, despite the years of failure.
8 – Sonic Colors
Whenever your hear the words ‘3D and Sonic’ in the same sentence you will probably gag on your spit little bit. Don’t worry, it’s only natural considering how poorly the third dimension has treated the Blue Blur over the years. However there are a couple of games that show off some promise with 3D and Sonic Colors is definitely one of them. With fast-paced gameplay, solid art design and a gimmick that doesn’t actually make the gameplay worse (cough Sonic Unleashed cough) this was like a diamond in the rough during the very difficult turn of the decade for Sonic.
7 – Sonic Advance 2
The Sonic Advance series is very well-remembered by fans and for good reasons. They were the first Sonic games developed exclusively for non-Sega hardware yet they managed to keep everything that made the Genesis games great while introducing new gameplay mechanics and characters to Sonic’s repertoire. Of this trilogy we could easily have picked any of the three games but decided to go with Sonic Advance 2 thanks to its superiors level design and tight gameplay.
6 – Sonic Generations
Sonic Generations is often considered to be a turning point of sorts for the series. Serving as a clean break from the more recent Sonic games it looked to recapture the old spirit by featuring not one but two Sonics – Modern and Classic. Modern Sonic would race through fully rendered 3D stages while Classic Sonic would take on 2D versions of the same levels. On paper this premise may sound complex but in reality it worked beautifully and showed the world that the series still had some life in it.
5 – Sonic the Hedgehog
The game that started it all. Sonic The Hedgehog was unlike nothing that had come before it when it released on the Sega Genesis back in 1991. Faster than Mario, more colorful than Bonk and way more rad than any other game out there, this was the must own game for kids everywhere and it helped revitalize the Genesis which up to that point was struggling to get its footing against the less powerful NES. One of the most important games ever releases its influence is still felt strongly in the industry today.
4 – Sonic Adventure 2
Poor Dreamcast. The little console that almost could was a hit with the Sega die-hard but couldn’t quite crack the mainstream gamers. And its a shame too because it brought us many fantastic games in its few years on the market. And the most fantastic of these fantastic games is Sonic Adventure 2, a high-octane thriller of a platformer that showed us early on that Sonic could work in the third dimension as long as long he not encumbered by useless gimmicks and effects.
3 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The very first Sonic game I ever played, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 holds a special place in my heart. To this day I still find the time to play the game at least once a year, if only to experience the amazing soundtrack once again. But it’s not just the tunes on display here as the level design is arguably the best of the early 16-bit platformers across either the SNES or Genesis. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is a must-play and one of the greatest games of all time and even then it only makes it to number 3 on this list.
2 – Sonic CD
Taking everything that made Sonic The Hedgehog 2 great and making it twice as good (that’s how CD’s work right?) Sonic CD is a sharper, faster, prettier, louder and just plain better Sonic game than its cartridge-based predecessor. Showing off the power of the Sega CD add-on this game handed Sega an early win in the 32-bit console wars and its influence is still felt strongly to this day especially with the release of Sonic Mania which takes many of its visual and gameplay queues from the OG 32-bit Sonic.
1 – Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
What’s better than one great Sonic game? Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were developed side by side and designed to operate side by side thanks to Sega’s special ‘Lock-On Technology’ that allowed one cartridge to plug into the other and allowed you to access content from one game in the other. This was an insanely cool feature that helped set Sega apart from what was being done on Nintendo and PlayStation at the time. But beyond the actual cartridge gimmick, the games themselves were insanely well crafted, with tons of secrets to find and level designs that the series has yet to top.
What are your favorite Sonic games? Let us know in the comment section below!