I am a huge Sonic the Hedgehog fan, and I've played every game in the series.
10. "Sonic Colors"
The story might be pretty “meh to average (for Sonic standards), But you’ll like the game for the fact that they used the Hedgehog Engine and the different power-ups you get through the Wisps. The game switches from 3D to 2D, and you’ll find that you’re having more fun when it’s not 2D. It doesn’t seem to capture the transition from the 3D back perspective to the 2D side-scrolling style of gameplay. I think Sonic Unleashed did this better. The music is fairly decent, nothing really noteworthy about it though. Though, I wasn’t really a fan of the opening music.
This was released on Wii and Nintendo DS in 2010. But let's talk about the Wii version here. This is where it felt the series took a turn with how Sonic’s personality is portrayed. He’s now more fourth wall breaking, self-aware, and wisecracking. It comes off to be a little annoying more than anything, further proving Sonic should probably have stayed mute. Though, the actual quality of voice acting is actually a step up from previous entries. Though I’m not wild about Tails' voice, he sounds more female than male, because he now has a female voice actress. The story is pretty shallow, and has maybe a few funny moments. Dr. Eggman opens an amusement park in space and pretends to have turned over a new leaf . . . Again. I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s done that before, I could be wrong. It is a trope after all. Dr. Eggman enslaves a bunch of aliens called “Wisps” and wanted to create a mind-controlling laser that will enable him to take over the Earth.
9. "Sonic Heroes"
This game released for the GameCube in 2003 and has actually aged better than most other Sonic games, in terms of gameplay. The story comes off almost as a sequel to Sonic Adventure 2, in that it feels like the events take place shortly after SA2. Though, the designer Takashi Iizuka states that he didn’t want it to be, he wanted to return to a more simplistic platforming and have it be something a casual player not familiar with Sonic would pick up and play.
You play through four different story modes consisting of three characters.
The teams you control consist of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, and Knuckles the Echidna; Shadow the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, and E-123 Omega; Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit, and Big the Cat; and Espio the Chameleon, Charmy the Bee, and Vector the Crocodile. Each team has their own story to play through, and each has its own level of difficulty.
While the graphics seem to have been given a little bit of a downgrade in favor of bigger environments, it really pays off. All versions of the game other than the PS2 version can actually run at 60fps. The PS2 can only handle 30fps. Some level designs feel more inspired and fun than others. The voice acting and writing hasn’t improved much at all here, but that won’t distract you from having a fun time. It’s a blast switching between characters and going through worlds. Some of the music was pretty good, but not consistently. The first world blows you away. Everything after that level is not as fun. But that pattern can be said for a lot of Sonic games.
8. "Sonic Unleashed"
This was a tricky one to place in here. It was released for Xbox, PS3, and Wii. There are two different modes of gameplay, one is the infamous “were-hog” stages, and the other uses the Hedgehog Engine that gave us gameplay that would be re-used for many years down the road. The were-hog stages were ok at best, but really slowed down the fps (frames per second), and the levels took a long time to complete. Turning Sonic into a werehog was a weird gimmick that not everyone was into. It was played more as a combat game. While that may sound fun, it was far more tedious than it sounds. It felt more like a bad version of God of War, and there wasn’t anything too interesting about it. The slow down in graphics even made it hard to enjoy the scenery.
The regular daytime stages were the highlight for me. The viewpoints would switch from 2D to 3D in gameplay throughout a daytime stage seamlessly. There is an exhilarating sense of speed that you get, and there is little to no slowdown, unless you’re playing the Wii version maybe. The graphics and locations were really beautiful. It’s because of the first level (Apotos) that I hope to one day visit the island in Greece called Mykonos, which it was based on. The music was not as catchy as previous entries; it had more of cultural feel based on your location. Some tracks are still stuck in my head, particularly Apotos’s song.
Another thing to note is that this game ties in with a short animated film on par with Pixar animation. It’s actually really cute and entertaining. It’s hard to believe that it’s been about a decade since it came out.
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7. "Sonic CD"
This used to feel like a rare gem I couldn’t really get a hold of. I never had a Sega CD system, though funny enough I did have the actual game. I bought it when it wasn’t at its highest price of $50, but when it was dirt cheap and in a bin. I tried putting it into an audio player to listen to the tracks despite not being able to play it. I wasn’t able to play the game until emulators became a thing in the late ’90s, and then ports came out. Thankfully it came out for GameCube and PS2 in August 2005 for Sonic Gems Collection. Later on, we’d be getting a port on iOS and Android phones, thanks to Christian Whitehead. The phone version was later ported to Xbox 360, PS3 Ouya, Windows phone, and Apple TV. Sonic CD was the best selling game for the Sega CD.
I was really impressed with the figure-8 boost move they added to the gameplay. Levels felt much longer, and it felt like they had more thought put into each of them, though there were fewer levels in general compared to past entries. This was the first time we got a look at Amy Rose and Metal Sonic, both great additions to the Sonic cast. Of course, it’s a typical damsel in distress story, but it’s still a lot of fun. The music was of much higher quality than Genesis games, now that it’s using CD-based technology using PCM audio tracks. One of the best things we got from this was the Sonic Boom opening animation. It never gets old to re-watch, and it’s catchy as hell. I believe I heard that the same people who made the Dragon Ball Z show had a hand in it, Toei Animation. I would totally be up for a Sonic animated series with the style they brought to this opening.
6. "Sonic Generations"
Released on Xbox 360, PS3, and 3DS, this was pretty much made to cater to nostalgia and be safe as possible to both modern and classic Sonic fans. Despite this, it was actually pretty fun, and even gave us some new great music remixes. The classic stages are there, of course. Bosses from other games were remastered In their own way, for better or worse. I wasn’t as excited to play the classic stages, as it didn’t feel as much like the actual classic gameplay. But the song which plays in classic mode in City Escape makes up for that. The way you go through the modern Sonic mode in old and newer stages is where this game shines the most.
5. "Sonic 2"
Making improvements to the first installation, we get a new ability called the Spin Dash. The Spin Dash was essential for Sonic. In Sonic 1, you had to build up speed from your momentum to ram through any walls and enemies. This way you don’t have to focus on that and can speed through the level faster if you wish. We also got a new buddy for Sonic named Tails. One or two players can play now, though if you play as Tails, you have to keep up with Sonic. Not staying within the border of the screen can cause instant death. Tails could also help Sonic by reaching higher areas, via flying him around for a certain period of time. There was a little more story in here than Sonic 1, though most of what little story it has comes out mostly at the end, with the Death Egg.
4. "Sonic & Knuckles"
This was the last great Sonic game to come out on the Genesis. Nearly every music track is brilliant, even Michael Jackson had a hand in creating it, though you won’t see his name in the credits. What story happens little by little through visuals and no voice acting is fun to witness and interpret as you play through. Knuckles as a new addition brings a welcome change of gameplay with his gliding and climbing abilities. One could say he plays like a better version of Sonic, as he pretty much has the same speed. When you use the add-on capabilities of Sonic and Knuckles, you get a lot of extra re-playability, as you are able to use knuckles in previous games, except for Sonic 1. Instead, you are given endless levels of the special stage found in Sonic 3. That was never my cup of tea, but putting Knuckles in Sonic 2 is fun and interesting.
3. "Sonic Mania"
Sonic Mania is what Sonic 4 should have been before we got the PS3 Sonic 4 part one and two, which I think Sega would like to forget exists. I don’t care for the fact that some older levels were brought back, which makes the game feel like just a repacking or port at times, but the new stages that are there making up for it, especially Studiopolis. The new music is magnificent, similar to how Sega used to make their music in the ’90s. The special stages are very neat and challenging, sometimes almost too challenging. I don’t care for the story tie-in they had with Sonic Forces, but thankfully that isn't too important to the plot.
2. "Sonic Adventure/DX"
I remember being more hyped for this Sonic game than any other. I tested and/or saw a video for it in a Japanese import video game store back when those stores were more common, and they had the Dreamcast system months before it was available in the United States. I ended up spending around $300 on the system, and I bought the game too. It blew me away. I was just glued to the screen for days.
Looking back at the game today, I feel like there are many glitches and wonky controls compared to what we have now, but you just have to spend the time to master the controls to make it work for you. The voice acting is somehow worse than I remember. In a way, the acting is so bad that it’s good. Well, at the very least it’s funny because of how bad the acting is. Voice acting was becoming a new thing for gaming at the time, and I feel most games at this time didn't have the best-spoken dialogue. The music still sounds top notch if not a little corny at times. The worlds are still fun to explore, and raising Chao is still a really neat addition to give the game more replay value, not to mention having six character stories to play through. The game may have aged somewhat poorly in some aspects, but there’s still much fun to be had here.
1. "Sonic Adventure 2/Battle"
It may be nostalgia blinding me, but in my opinion, this was the best. Especially story-wise, because it took itself more seriously and actually ends on a sad note. Sonic Adventure 2 improved on the gameplay and camera problems from SA1, though it felt like it was slightly less open of an open world. But that didn’t take away any of the fun. The stage songs had vocals that are both amazing and memorable. The voice acting ranged from pretty decent to horrible, but was a step up from Sonic Adventure 1’s acting. They brought back the Chao raising system and got rid of the hub world. The story mode was split into two, giving you the ability to choose if you want to play through the perspective of the evil side or the good side. This was a unique change you don’t see done too often. This game holds up more to the test of time than SA1 does, and I personally think it should take first place for the best Sonic game.
© 2019 Rusty Shackleford