Every game series has highs and lows, and Sonic has been through more than your average game hero. He’s turned into a Werehog, battled a dangerous lookalike, and even become King Arthur. Yeah… That was a thing. The team behind his games have tried a ton of wacky different formulas, and power to them! It’s commendable to try new and crazy ideas, and because of that willingness to experiment, Sonic has had some fantastic adventures.
With that said, check out our picks for the best Sonic games.
10 Sonic Unleashed
A game with duality: two modes as different as day and night, quite literally. During the day, Sonic races through speedy stages, with the ability to drift, dodge, and deftly weave his way to the goal. At night, he transforms into the Werehog, and while this form is fun and the stretchy arms make for a decent gimmick, they sadly come with clunky controls. More importantly, it removed what makes Sonic, Sonic: speed.
Still, with excellent daytime stages, an engaging plot, and a catchy soundtrack, there’s a lot of things Sonic Unleashed does right, and it’s well worth the play.
9 Sonic Lost World
Faced with brand new foes, the Deadly Six, Sonic Lost World sees our favorite hedgie race across brand new 3D levels, even zipping between floating planet-like areas. This game has a fun, simple plot, seeing Sonic team up with Eggman to overcome their new enemies.
It’s a great combo of what was missing from some of the less popular games, and what worked well in them. It’s got good platforming that reduces the gimmicks, but sticks with the features fans enjoyed, such as the wisps from Sonic Colors. Despite some tricky control schemes, it’s not a bad game.
8 Sonic Adventure
Let us rewind a few years now, back to 1999, to the wonder that was Sonic Adventure. The first of its kind, the gameplay was split into two parts: the action stages and adventure fields. It also allowed you to play as characters that you never could before, featuring deeper characterization and development of favorites like Knuckles and Amy. It has a great open world, and such a thing had never existed in Sonic games before.
Not only was it the top-selling Dreamcast game, but it also introduced Big the Cat, and well… he’s iconic.
7 Sonic Heroes
Another game to introduce totally new mechanics, Sonic Heroes was unique in that it focused on team-based gameplay. You control a team of three characters: either Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles; Amy, Cream and Big; Shadow, Rouge, and Omega; or Vector, Charmy, and Espio. You can switch between the characters in the group freely, which is pretty neat, and each one has a particular ability: speed for quick stages, flight for reaching higher levels, or power for smashing through obstacles. The variants in gameplay depending on your chosen team, and the cheesy but fun dialogue make this one a classic in its own right.
6 Sonic Rush
Sonic’s first venture onto the Nintendo DS, Sonic Rush, was a critical success. It used the DS’s two screens to facilitate gameplay in innovative ways, with some steep vertical drops spanning across both screens. The plot takes place in another dimension, and introduces a new character, Blaze the Cat, who fans like me were stoked about. It has the kind of platforming that is celebrated in the Sonic series: speedy and snappy, with all the thrills you could want. Praised for marrying elements of 2D and 3D gameplay, it’s a really good handheld game, and a great entry in the series.
5 Sonic CD
Another older release, Sonic CD came out in between Sonic 2 and 3. What makes this game unique is the ability to travel to different styles of the same zone, as found in the Past, the Present, the Good Future, and the Bad Future. With the different versions of each stage, comes variation in the art, the platforms, and the music.
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This game was also the one to introduce Amy, who as we know came to appear in many, many games since. With creative level design and gimmicks like bouncy floors, Sonic CD is still good fun even today.
4 Sonic the Hedgehog 2
You gotta love the classics. And not only is this game a classic, but it’s also bigger and better than the original. Sonic 2 expanded on the previous game by featuring three levels of each zone, rather than two. More importantly, it’s got a bigger variety of levels, from Chemical Plant Zone to Casino Night Zone. This is where we first met the lovely Tails, and he’s been Sonic’s best buddy ever since. They team up to stop Dr. Robotnik from finding all the chaos emeralds, to power his Death Egg (he should really hire someone to name his machines).
3 Sonic Generations
A true return to form, Sonic Generations brought back some of the much-missed gameplay from older titles. It merged the best mechanics from previous games, such as the drifting from Sonic Colors, and the boost gauge from Sonic Unleashed, all into one brilliant game. It’s like a love letter to the fans and to Sonic, bringing them what they’d been crying out for since the disaster that was Sonic ’06 (but we don’t talk about that). The re-imagined classic stages are a throwback with an awesome modern twist, and so is the remixed music to go with them.
2 Sonic Colors
Sonic Colors marked a new territory for the Sonic series: successfully implementing new mechanics, while reviving the speedy action from the first games. The most notable new mechanic was the Wisps, little alien-like creatures who have different powers depending on their color. There’s something weirdly thrilling about activating a wisp and hearing the announcer bellow “Drill!”, as Sonic burrows through the ground and the music turns bassy.
It also features great humor between the characters, with self-aware jokes that became a pretty regular feature beyond that point. Combine all that with smooth controls, and you’ve got a great title.
1 Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Adventure 2 builds on its predecessor, making a great game a brilliant one. With split storylines of either “Hero” or “Dark”, plus three different playstyles depending on the character, there’s a lot to do.
It has epic moments, both in gameplay and story, with the plot featuring higher stakes than ever before. Then there’s the Chao Garden, which despite being a side feature that you could totally ignore, became one of the most popular parts of the game. Raising your own Chao, who can turn out to be good or evil, and developing their abilities? It’s awesome.