Top 5 Sonic games of all time

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. While Sega may have exited the console market after the end of the Sega Dreamcast, we’ve seen plenty of great and not-so-great games since.

Here is something you may not know. While Sonic the Hedgehog was first released for the Sega Master System/Sega Genesis in 1991, it wasn’t his first appearance. That honor actually goes to arcade racing game Rad Racer, where Sonic appeared as an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.

With Sega announcing a new Sonic game at San Diego Comic-Con, what better way to celebrate Sonic’s 25th anniversary than looking at the top 5 Sonic games. It was hard to select only five, but we thought about it long and hard and picked the 5 games that really stand out.

5. Sonic CD


Many Sonic games were released on the Sega Genesis back in the early ’90s, but there was one that not many got a chance to play. Sonic CD was a pretty cool idea that really added a new layer to the already established icon. What was so different about Sonic CD? Well, the fact that players would be able to play the same stage in three different ways, from the future, past or present. Each one dramatically changed the level.

Rather than collecting the Chaos Emeralds, you actually collected the Time Stones. You don’t get Super/Time Sonic for collecting all seven of them, but the Special Stages involved were actually pretty enjoyable. You had to take down UFOs before time ran out, and the awesome 3D effects added to that, something you also saw when Sonic dashed through a loop.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the original intro was pretty amazing? It looked better than the cartoons at the time.

4. Sonic 2


Many game developers have cited Sonic the Hedgehog as one of their inspirations, and it’s easy to see why. The first game was just incredible, and Sonic 2 went beyond. Not only did the stages get more intricate and challenging, but it was also the first time we were introduced to Super Sonic by collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds and by meeting the requirements of the special stages.

When I think of Sonic 2, I think of the 2 standout zones, Chemical Plant Zone and Casino Night Zone. Chemical Plant Zone featured multiple paths you could explore as you reached to the end of the stage. With Casino Night Zone, you could spend a lot of time playing the slot machine and treating Sonic like a pinball.

The music was amazingly well done, and if you ever get a chance to watch a Sonic 2 speedrun, it’s something to behold. It’s quite crazy just what you can do the game, minus the glitches. It was also the first Sonic game that introduced an extra boss battle that could only be reached by collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds. If you didn’t do that, you got the bad ending.

The AI for Tails, however, isn’t the brightest, and it’s more apparent in the Special Stages. It’s funny how Tails is pretty much immortal since if he dies he comes back just a few moments later like nothing happened. Of course having a second player controlling him can make things so much easier including bosses.

3. Sonic Adventure 2


While Sega released a few different games in 3D such as Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic the Fighters, and Sonic Adventure, it was Sonic Adventure 2 that really did it right. I remember starting Sonic Adventure 2 as a teenager and selecting the Hero’s story first and being blown away by the intro and first stage. City Escape more than showcased what the game offered and did a great job, especially with the music.

Sonic and Shadow stages took the series to a whole new level with a more risk/reward gameplay. Being able to take some major risks would help you get through stages much quicker and look cool. Making a single mistake would kill you, especially in the Mad Space level. That level looked amazing as Sonic or Shadow are grinding through space looking down on the Earth.

Sure it wasn’t a perfect game, but it was actually some of the most fun I’ve had playing a Sonic game. Yes, that includes the Tails and Eggman stages along with the game of hide n’ seek with Knuckles and Rouge.

2. Sonic 3 & Knuckles


While Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles are technically two games, they were originally developed to be released as one full game. The Sonic and Knuckles lock-on cart was a pretty cool idea and something no other company was doing. It’s almost like the equivalent of buying DLC today. It was also the first game where you could select which character you used, letting you play as Sonic and Tails together (with a second controller to control Tails), or go at it solo with either Sonic, Knuckles or Tails.

Both games together featured 13 different zones (14 if you collect all the emeralds via Sonic). Since Sonic and Knuckles takes place directly after the events of Sonic 3, it was a seamless transition into the next game. It’s the overall levels that make this game #2 in our top 5 Sonic Games. This game had it all with amazing zones to explore, tons of hidden rooms and routes to explore for the Chaos Emeralds and some amazing music.

Sonic 2 first introduced Super Sonic, but in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, you were able to also unlock Super Knuckles if you collected all seven chaos emeralds by the end of Sonic 3. This was only the start, as collecting the seven super chaos emeralds (powered up emeralds) would give you access to Hyper Sonic, Hyper Knuckles, and Super Tails.

It’s also cool to note that the Sonic and Knuckles cart didn’t just work only with Sonic 3, but also with Sonic 2, allowing Knuckles to be playable.

1. Sonic Generations


After Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Team tried to reboot Sonic for the next generation systems (PS3 and Xbox 360), and it didn’t work out so well. Quite a few games were, well, bad. It felt like Sonic was losing all his edge as Sega began releasing less-than-stellar games, at least until Sonic Colors. One year after the release of Sonic Colors, Sega released Sonic Generations which is easily the best Sonic game of all time!

You’re probably thinking, “But Sonic Generations is nothing more than a remake of different stages and zones from previous Sonic games.” That may be true, but the game goes far beyond that as Sonic Team reimagined so many of these levels by creating two different versions. On 3D you can play as Modern Sonic which plays much like Sonic Colors and “those other” 3D games I won’t mention. You can also play the classic 2D stages for Classic Sonic which played much like the original Genesis games.

Being able to play as two different Sonics was a nice plus, especially since the 2D style of gameplay hasn’t been around since Sonic Advance 3 in 2004. There was no playing with Knuckles, Amy, Tails, or anyone… just pure speed and action with Sonic. All the effort for the game really showed. It felt like the Sonic game we’ve been wanting for so long. Being able to relive many of the moments was just a plus, and if you felt like doing something new you, had plenty of challenges to complete outside of the main story.

There were so many little things added to this game that really stood out and worth playing over and over again, especially the soundtrack. It was just amazing just how different the tracks sounded depending on which version of Sonic you were using.

Do you agree with our Top 5 Sonic games? Do you disagree? What Sonic games do you feel should have made the Top 5?

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