Since the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game came out, SEGA has since then churned out more and more Sonic games. In return, there is an open-world of Sonic games that ranges from Sonic RPGs to even party and board games.
Though the puzzling questions you might be asking is how many Sonic games are out there, the truth is, we don’t know. But what we do know is what the best are for you to dive in and those mediocre Sonic games to avoid. Every game has its charm but is not without flaws. In this list, we compiled some of the best Sonic games to narrow down your choice and why it deserves your attention.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Starting with what could be one of the best Sonic games of all time, Sonic 3 & Knuckles is a cult classic. You get three playable characters in Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. These three all bring something to the table and have different play styles. Each character also has a separate campaign.
With its unique mechanics, Sonic 3 & Knuckles blows a lot of its successors out of the water. Complete with a unique soundtrack that includes music from Michael Jackson, this game is a gift that keeps on giving. No stage in Sonic 3 & Knuckles feels boring or tedious to play. This game is a fine example of why there are no breakthroughs in Sonic games. You just can’t beat the classics.
You can tell that SEGA put lots of love into this game. And unlike later installments to the franchise, this game’s story doesn’t have any dialogue whatsoever. Even then, it still has one of the better stories in the franchise.
Using nostalgia as a weapon, Sonic Mania is a trip down memory lane for all Sonic fans. It provides us with an art style refreshed from the 1990s Sonic games with ’90s themed games even though it came out in 2017. Four years after its release, it is still renowned as one of the best Sonic games out there.
After all of the 3D Sonic games that came out, they decided to go back to their roots. With a 2D art style, Sonic Mania is one that is deeply loved by the community. It’s a modern-day classic that has some of the oldest zones in Sonic history, like the Lava Reef Zone or Hydrocity Zone.
Not just that, but it also adds some new flavor with new zones like Mirage Saloon and Studiopolis Zone. Some of the developers of this game were also previously fans, pouring much love and care into the game.
Sonic Unleashed is one of the more divisive games in the franchise. There was an uproar when fans found out that Sonic could become a werehog. However, after its release in 2008, Sonic Unleashed has become one of the most loved games in the franchise. It is perhaps one of the best Sonic games when it comes to 3D.
During the day, you’re the hedgehog everyone knows and loves. At night, you turn into a freak of nature. There’s a daytime mode and nighttime mode. We have the good old Sonic game mechanics during the day and something of a brawler game at night. Introducing the 3D boost feature that future games mimicked, Sonic Unleashed is a standout game with innovative mechanics.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Sonic The Dark Brotherhood is a hidden gem. Released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, it was developed by RPG giant BioWare, creators of Mass Effect. It has turn-based combat and makes good use of the unique features of the DS. When it comes to RPG mechanics, this is definitely one of the best Sonic games.
Dr. Eggman is now dead, Knuckles has been kidnapped, and the Chaos Emeralds have been taken. Utilizing some of the most iconic characters in the franchise, you must get things back to how they were before. The Dark Brotherhood makes use of comic book type cutscenes with some exploration involved before combat.
This game is one of the most interesting in the whole franchise, with an entrancing story and Final Fantasy-style combat. It’s one of the best games to play if you’re tired of all of the other Sonic games and are looking for something different.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Of all the Mario and Sonic Olympic Games, which one is best? Well, some say you can’t beat the original. But the second installment in the Mario & Sonic series blows it out of the water. It takes place in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
The Olympic Winter Games has all of the events that the previous game had, and then some. You now have four more playable characters to choose from, with Donkey Kong, Bowser Jr, Silver, and Metal Sonic joining the fray. This game does have a story, but it’s secondary to the event.
The main story is just Bowser and Dr. Eggman having a plot to melt all of the snow in the surrounding area. Hence, Mario and Sonic spring into action to stop them.
Sonic Rush was the first to incorporate the boost mechanic in the franchise. It takes the mechanics of the original Sonic games and refines them. Sonic Rush is the king of the handheld Sonic experience.
It has lots of cool stages you can play, from Water Palace to Night Carnival. Unlike the previous entries in the series, the backgrounds in stages aren’t just static. Every background moves along with you, which completes the experience. The developers successfully breathed life into this game, and it’s fantastic.
The best part about this game aside from its gameplay is its soundtrack, which is extremely impressive. It ranges from cool jazz to rock, and the majority of the soundtrack is simply amazing. Give this one a shot if you’re a fan of the classics.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 jumps on the success that the first game delivered and gives you even more. Aside from Sonic, you can now play as Tails. You also have the option of playing local co-op with a friend.
This game is better than the first for its innovative new mechanics, which introduced the Sonic dash. This allowed players to do spin dashing. Sonic is also a lot faster in this game, which makes playing him a lot more enjoyable and rewarding. Tails is also arguably just as enjoyable to play since he can fly and spin as well. Though, he isn’t as fast as Sonic.
Overall, this one introduced a new standard for its successors and was a glimpse of what was to come for the series. It enhanced the formula significantly and is a faithful successor to the original.
Sonic CD was the one to first introduce time travel into the series. Released in 1993, it plays much like how the previous ones did, but with some tweaks. Areas can be changed, and enemies can completely disappear from them.
If you go back in time and change the areas, those areas will have a brighter and vibrant color scheme instead of when you first went to them. You can even get a bad or good ending, depending on whether you collect all of the time stones or not. Sonic CD is truly a game ahead of its time.
The replay value is also through the roof because of the endings you can get. This is because you can’t get all achievements in one go. The timeline in this game also sets the stage for other games in other timelines.
Sonic Adventure 2
Following up from Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 is another faithful follow-up. You can either play as Sonic and his friends or Shadow and his party. There are two separate playthroughs in this game.
It is the last Sonic game developed for the Dreamcast but has since been adapted into other consoles. Although there are two parties to choose from, there are actually six playable characters in all. Sonic and Shadow also team up in their super forms to take down the final boss. While it has its ups and downs, it is overall a solid experience.
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic and the Black Knight makes use of the Wii’s controllers strangely. It has good graphics even for today’s standards and is occasionally brilliant. While it has a good story making use of knights, it falls short of true brilliance.
The story takes you to a different timeline where Knuckles, Blaze, Shadow, and Jet are knights of the round table. As Sonic, you must now venture through the story and become the chosen knight to wield Excalibur. Its gameplay is completely different from other Sonic games, but different doesn’t necessarily mean great. It lacks depth in its combat, which makes it a not-so-enjoyable experience.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
The first game kickstarted the franchise with its inventive gameplay. However, its gameplay was far from perfect. The game design was lackluster in a lot of ways. You couldn’t use Sonic’s speed to your advantage and there were many obstacles to stop your speed.
The bosses are irritating to deal with and just tedious to fight. It rarely rewards you for using Sonic’s speed and instead focuses on slowing you down. This game is more annoying than it is fun. The only redeeming factor about it is the fact that it introduced Sonic to the world. But if you’re looking for nostalgia, then this is one of the best Sonic games you can get.
Sonic Adventure is how Sonic was introduced into 3D. The story of Sonic and Tails in this game is decent, although not up to par with its predecessors in 2D. The controls are confusing, the gameplay is janky, and the graphics are bad.
However, it does have moments where it can shine. Some parts of the story can be really fun, like Knuckles’s treasure hunting and Tails’s adventures. Aside from this, the game is bland and boring. There’s really not much to redeem this game apart from nostalgia. While it isn’t the worst Sonic game ever made, it’s far from the best.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
When a big-budget 3D game was announced for Sonic’s 15th anniversary, fans were enthralled. People wanted to see the best Sonic game ever made with old and new mechanics. However, what we got is a game that tries hard to be what it isn’t. It’s a far cry from being one of the best Sonic games.
Ambitious with nine different storylines involved, it introduced new characters like Silver who has telekinetic powers. The game isn’t all bad since some of the gameplay shines through and can be fun, but the story is a disaster and the interspecies romance feels off. When it comes down to it, this game could’ve been one of the greatest Sonic experiences ever if it weren’t rushed.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Shadow the Hedgehog is a spinoff game from the main series that takes a dark, edgy turn. You play as Shadow, and your job is to eliminate the alien demon-like creatures invading the planet. As an experimental take on the franchise, this game failed to deliver on all ends.
Shadow uses a lot of unsavory language with lots of swearing, and is given guns that can be used to his advantage. But the controls are buggy and the gunplay feels massively incomplete. Shadow the Hedgehog has its fair share of fun moments, yet is overshadowed by its gruesome story and clunky gameplay.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Rise of Lyric is one of the best sonic games that is fun if you’re new to platforming games. But for seasoned veterans of Sonic, this game is a walk in the park. It poses no challenge at all and its puzzles are far too easy to solve. It’s an uninteresting game.
The only good thing about this game is that it has four playable characters, each with their own playstyle. The playstyles are diverse enough from each other and can be pretty fun. Nevertheless, it ultimately falls short because the game always limits you. You can never use Sonic’s speed to your advantage. Most of the time, the game is just Sonic running without anything happening.
The Future of Sonic
The Sonic franchise has huge plans for 2020. To get excited, you should play the best Sonic games and avoid some of the worst ones out there. And though there are some bad Sonic games, Sonic games are typically good and you usually never go wrong with playing one.
The future of Sonic is promising, and the hedgehog is alive now more so than ever before. So, what is the best modern Sonic game? Well, really, that’s for you to find out.