Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog has done a lot of running over the years, but nothing has quite prepared him for the Superstar that he became. An icon among videogames, Sonic the Hedgehog seems to finally be moving in a strong and positive direction – after several awkward missteps by the franchise.
As you can probably tell from this list, I’m more into the 2D Sonic games than the 3D ones. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them – it’s just I don’t think they’re the best showcase for the series. If you want to see what we thought of all the Sonic games – check out our exhaustive list that Ranks the games.
10. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed
For years the Sonic franchise teased the prospect of having an excellent racing entry in its ranks. With All-Stars Racing Transformed, the series finally achieved it.
A quite exhaustive racing game, stuffed to the brim with beautiful graphics, incredibly smooth controls and a racing mechanic that stood out. The cast of characters was large and the underlying mechanics made the game a joy to play with friends. Add in some of the best music in any Sonic racing game, and it’s easy to see why this game is hugely adored by fans.
It may not be on the level of Mario Kart – but All-Stars Racing Transfomed was a highly competent racer that more than delivered on its promise.
9. Sonic Advance 3
The best of the Advance titles and deserving to be considered among the best of the franchise.
By this point the Advance series was confident, fun and had some amazing level designs. It looked good and played well on the Game Boy Advance – offering up a true portable outing for the console. Perhaps best of all – it didn’t feel like a poor mans attempt to recreate the original trilogy of games.
It’s a shame it’s often overlooked – but it’s certainly worth tracking down online if you’ve never given it a fair crack of the whip.
8. Sonic Generations
Sega did it. They finally found a way to marry the nostalgia from the original series to the need for a strong 3D game. Generations is wonderful to experience, a breath of fresh air at a time when the franchise was desperate for it.
The mixture of old and new, music and visuals is enough to carry the game beyond a simple nostalgia trip. Generations flips the two mechanics together and showcases some of the best that Sonic’s offered over the years – with a fresh coat of paint that’s exhilarating to experience.
Plus I think we all agree – Classic Sonic truly steals the show throughout. It’s no wonder Sega has decided to revisit this premise properly in its upcoming games.
7. Sonic Rush
Haters can hate, but I’ve always thought Rush was more deserving of attention among the wider franchise.
It was the first Nintendo DS game (and easily the best of the games that graced that console). It achieves this by staying relatively true to the series core values. The story is largely left on the sidelines as the game delivers a hugely exciting Rush mechanic. It’s fun and with levels designed to get you moving as fast as possible, it works well in small bursts.
It helps the game looks great too, easily a step ahead of the previous mobile outings.
6. Sonic Colors
Color’s gets a tough time from Sonic fans – who seemingly split their opinions quite heavily. The reality is though that this game was one of the best Sonic 3D games to grace a console ever.
With some of the most gorgeous graphics in the 3D spectrum of games and solid performance under the hood, it was a major step forward for the games. While the story itself isn’t amazing (Some have unfavourably refered to it as a Mario Galaxy rip-off) there’s no denying that this game was one of the better offerings from the team over at Sega
Thank goodness it was finally released onto PC too – where more people got to experience it.
5. Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Not quite as groundbreaking as its previous outings, this was more a refinement of all that came before than an out-and-out evolution.
The most striking change was the decision to blend acts together into a seamless experience. This allowed the game to introduce more sequences and mini-bosses to bridge levels, creating a more seemless feeling of progression and story throughout. The expansion of the Spin Dash also made the game feel like a proper step up from its previous outings.
It also has to be said that this has some of the best Sonic level design from across the whole series.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog
The original trendsetter for the series is also a fun game to still play.
True it lacks a number of features the series would later gravitate towards, but it’s the ability to play through and simply enjoy the games core mechanics that make it so enjoyable. Everything here is tight and works as expected – delivering a competent platformer that more than stands out from games at the time.
3. Sonic CD
Some like to hate on Sonic CD – citing it as something of a black sheep in the Sonic family. I prefer to see it as the culmination of the original trilogy’s brilliance.
It slows down the pace incredibly, delivering more robust platforming alongside a cache of new abilities that keep things interesting. The ability to jump around in time was hugely impressive, and lends the games visual style a huge amount of distinction. It still looks gorgeous and distinctive to this day, embodying an atmosphere and sense of grandness that its predecessors can’t match.
I still consider this a more than worthy continuation of the Sonic 2D games, and one of the better outings in the franchise overall.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The iconic spin-dash gets introduced while the appearance of Tails opens the game up to new dynamics. In truth it’s got better levels that make more creative use of Sonics abilities – opening up the franchise to more inventive ways to play.
The stories also a bit more developed which gives everything more sense of purpose. But it was in this game that the franchise perfected it’s craft, turning the potential of the original Sonic the Hedgehog into something more. While other 2D hedgehog games refined this further, Sonic 2 refined the craft and series to its peak.
1. Sonic & Knuckles
The game acts as a bridge to more content locked out of Sonic 3. Luckily this content is more than worth the price of entry – with so much more to do. Playing as Knuckles was a huge thrill – and getting to experience more of an amazing game is never a bad thing.
It’s the pinnacle of the original trilogy and a wonderful way to experience the franchise through fresh eyes. With new characters, abilities and levels branching (depending on who you’re playing as) the scale of this combined game is all the more impressive.
It added in so much new stuff and delivered strongly on its promise.