After Nintendo revived the video game market in North America, two consoles were battling it out. Those consoles were the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System. Arguably, Nintendo’s whole empire was on the shoulders of their mascot, Mario. Sega had to fight back, and the character they created to do that was Sonic The Hedgehog.
While both franchises continued to grow, it is clear that the two took very different paths. While Sonic had a bigger collection of games, Sega was less consistent in giving the fans quality titles. But it would be a lie to claim that fun Sonic games don’t exist.
I have gone over the worst Sonic the Hedgehog games in the past. So why not shine the spotlight on the Sonic games that everyone should try? These are my picks for
The Best Sonic The Hedgehog Games
Sonic Spinball (Sega Genesis)
What happens when you combine Sonic The Hedgehog with pinball? You get Sonic Spinball. It’s more than a pinball game where Sonic replaces the ball. The game mechanics are a little deeper than that because while you need to use the flippers to launch Sonic around the board you still get some control over his movement.
Like any good Sonic game, you will still have bosses to face, Chaos Emeralds to collect, and Dr. Robotnik is there as well.
I played the crap out of this game when I was a kid. My only complaint is that it may be a little unforgiving when you lose a “ball, “ but aren’t most pinball games?
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (Nintendo DS)
Sonic Chronicles plays like a standard roleplaying game. Battles worked out the way you would expect them to. While the battles were not random like most RPGs, they were epic. Lots of character, lots of moves, lots of bosses, and fun puzzle-solving thrown in for good measure.
You could choose different conversation choices when you spoke with somebody but it didn’t have an effect on the outcome of the story, but if you are only playing through once it’s not a biggie.
If you like Sonic The Hedgehog and you like RPGs then you should try one.
Sonic Adventure for (Sega Dreamcast)
While the sequel was a little disappointing, the same can’t be said about the original.
Sonic Adventure had six different campaigns with six playable characters that were all fun to play. The abilities were unique enough that you didn’t feel like you were playing the same levels six times just with different characters.
You could get a little lost in some of the levels. There are hints but they could be more clear. You will probably want to explore and play through more than once so you should find exactly where to go.
Tails can fly and Amy has a hammer that she can use to defend herself. Gamma is a mech that has gone against the orders of Dr. Robotnik and Big is a cat. You also play campaigns featuring Sonic and Knuckles.
The music is a great match for the levels and the campaigns feel like just the right length. Come on Sega, Sonic Adventure 3, please.
Sonic Battle (GBA)
I don’t know what it was about this game that had me keep coming back for more. Sonic Battle is a basic “3D” fighter for the GameBoy Advance that features every character you would want to see.
I use the term 3D in brackets because the game was criticized for using 2D sprites on a 3D background. Doesn’t matter because it worked. The end effect is a great-looking fighter that you can put in your pocket and go.
While the move set is limited and the button-mashing repetitive, that’s what makes this game fun. Each round serves as a means to level up your character and get to the next bigger, and badder opponent.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode One (Multiple Platforms)
Regardless of whether you refer to this game as a remake or sequel, you aren’t wrong.
There are four zones with three levels each then a final boss level. The levels got the same treatment retro circuits did in newer Mario Kart games.
There was one controversial change to the gameplay. The new lock-on targeting system that you use to make sure you hit different enemies and switches. Understanding this lock-on targeting system is the key to enjoying this game.
If you are worried that later Sonic games are too easy, you will be pleased with the challenge of the final boss here. After the graphical upgrade, this seems like the game we would have gotten if there was an actual fourth Sonic The Hedgehog game on the Sega Genesis.
Sonic Mania (Multiple Platforms)
Nostalgia is a strong emotion which is why people still love games featuring Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic Mania is a tribute to classic Sonic.
While the levels in Sonic Mania are larger than they appeared in the Sega Genesis, these levels look the same and are as fun to play as they were in the 90s. Some familiar bonus stages also make their return.
If you wanted to relive the challenges you faced in the older Sonic games with fast gameplay, and tons of secrets, this is the game. The hit detection can be a little off at times but this is the best game for anybody looking to get back into the Sonic franchise.
Sonic Unleashed (PlayStation 2)
I already mentioned this game on the worst Sonic game list but that is the general opinion which I don’t fully agree with. I truly believe if more people had played the PlayStation 2 version over other consoles then this game would be looked at more favorably.
The PS2 version is a completely different experience and addresses most (if not all) of the common complaints.
What makes the PlayStation 2 version so much better than other ports? You didn’t have to play a rail shooter whenever you wanted to go to another piece of the planet like in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version. You didn’t have to deal with waggle controls like on the Wii.
While ports like the Xbox 360 made you backtrack for medals, I always seemed to have enough as I went through the game on the PlayStation 2 port. I never once was blocked from progressing due to a lack of medals.
The daytime stages as the hedgehog were fun to run through. Many gamers did not like the nighttime stages as the Werehog, but to me, it feels a lot like God Of War.
So if the idea of playing a monster Sonic with God of War flair appeals to you, go back and find this under-appreciated game.
Sonic CD (Sega CD)
Robotnik has Metal Sonic kidnap Sonic’s girlfriend and Sonic has to collect the time stones instead of the chaos emeralds. Sonic is trying to save the past and future which means time travel!
You decide whether Sonic goes to the past or future and depending on which one you choose, the level will change and so will the enemies.
With the time warp in effect, the level design is more confusing if you are looking to just blast through things. But that’s what made it good. It was the first game in the main Sonic series that took the standard gameplay and expanded on it.
Another thing this game is known for is the awesome soundtrack. At the time Sega CD was the only CD-based system on the market and Sony took full advantage of the advanced sound capabilities.
Sonic Heroes (Multiple Platforms)
Sonic usually pushed through levels by himself. This game changes that because Sonic is followed by Tails and Knuckles and you will need their help. Each with their own abilities you will need to switch between them at the right time to complete levels.
The gameplay idea was a big risk but it pays off. The mechanics are smooth and switching between characters is easy. Most importantly it takes nothing away from the speed of the game.
Another title with an awesome soundtrack. I can not get the theme song out of my head even all these years later.
With an impressive focus on teamwork, it delivers on everything that makes a sonic game good. If you are tired of the normal Sonic formula then this is a game you should play.
Sonic Generations (Multiple Platforms)
This is my favorite modern Sonic game.
The best way to describe this game is by calling it a time capsule of everything good in Sonic. Dr. Eggman teams with himself and with the help of a being named the Time Eater. The Time Eater is sent to attack classic Sonic at the beginning of the first game.
Classic Sonic runs into a party being held for Modern Sonic and the Time Eater scatters all of his friends through different time portals. Sonic awakes in a white world and before long is reunited with Tails. The team from the past meets the team from the future and they partner up.
You play an act of a level like Chemical Plant Zone as Modern Sonic with secret branching paths then you play a side-scrolling level of Chemical Plant Zone as Classic Sonic.
Before you get to fight the first boss, you have to complete three challenges in each level. You have a choice of ten challenges per level. Five are available for each Sonic. These challenges could be races with other characters or having a level modified in some other way.
Once you complete three levels and three challenges in each level then you fight a boss. You beat that boss then you have to beat three more levels.
Sonic The Hedgehog (Sega Genesis)
Sonic The Hedgehog was the first game where most people got to run through levels “quicker than the speed of sound”. Not every level could be played with a mad dash for the finish because the developers did throw in some good platforming and both types of levels are a fun experience.
Finish a level with 50 rings and you get warped to a bonus level. This would be your chance to collect chaos emeralds which got you the best true ending. The music is also great and did a good job matching the pace and feel of the game.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Sega Genesis)
While this game has three in its title, this was the fourth game to come out because this game came out after Sonic CD. Robotnik crashes the Death Egg on an island and Sonic and Tails are trying to reclaim the chaos emeralds.
This game lets you play as Sonic or Tails and both characters have different abilities to help you get through the levels. When you finish an act in a level, the screen won’t cut to black but you’ll see Sonic and Tails go to the start point of the next act.
There are six different zones, which is less than what was planned to be in the game’s final release. That’s why the Sonic and Knuckles add-on was created to squeeze in the content that didn’t make the game’s final cut.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)
Nintendo may have had Super Mario Bros. or a combo cartridge as a pack in-game. But when Sega put Sonic 2 as a pack-in for the Genesis, they had a winner. While sequels often fail to live up to the original, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was better than the previous game in every way.
Racing through levels in Sonic 2 was fun and the controls were simple. While the Sega Genesis button had three face buttons, you only needed one. Every level was full of pretty colors, unique, creative, and still had more of that great music.
It’s not hard to see why this game has been released for other consoles. The Neo Geo Pocket port had a couple of extra levels. It was also released on the 3DS and Switch and the only Sonic games better than this one according to Metacritic are the remakes of this game.
Even if you have been turned off from what you heard about other Sonic games, not on this list, these games still deserve a try. The way these games were ranked in my personal opinion. If you want to know why Sonic is such a big deal, these games will answer that question.
What do you think is the best Sonic game?