Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 1

 

RingsLost

I am Sonic and the rings represent my mind.

 

What would Sonic’s 25th birthday celebration be without a haphazard, subjective overview of his games? From Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis to Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice on the 3DS, I’ll be going through every Sonic game ever made (no bootlegs or unreleased games) and giving them one of five grades:

 

MUST PLAY!

MUST MISS!

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

As I continue my Sega Does journey, I will expand my thoughts on Sonic games released for Sega consoles into full-fledged reviews. For now, however, please enjoy my abridged opinions on one of the most volatile game libraries in existence.

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (1991)

 

Sonic1

 

One of the best character debuts in gaming history. Sonic the Hedgehog was so good, it catapulted both the titular hedgehog and the Genesis into the ‘It List’ overnight. Sonic’s design was both cute and cool, and appealed to kids and young adults alike. The precise platforming combined with thrilling bursts of speed was like nothing else on the market. Each of the eighteen zones had multiple routes for extra replay value. And Masato Nakamura’s soundtrack transported you into Sonic’s world with its haunting, energetic melodies. Sonic the Hedgehog was Sega at the height of their powers.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (8-BIT)

 

Sonic1GG

 

While not as groundbreaking (or as fast) as its 16-bit brother, Sonic the Hedgehog for Master System/Game Gear doesn’t skimp on classic Sonic gameplay. Rather than squash the Genesis version down into a horrific unplayable port, developers Ancient wisely tweaked the game to play like a modified version of the original. Plus, Yuzo Koshiro of Actraiser and Streets of Rage 2 fame handles the composer/arranger duties, so the soundtrack is as good or better than Sonic 1 on the Genesis.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC ERASER

 

SonicEraser

 

Released exclusively for Sega’s Meganet download service in Japan, this falling-block puzzle game hardly has Sonic in it at all. Like Columns or Tetris, you twist and turn clusters of shapes around until three of the same type land next to each other and disappear. Whether you’re playing against the computer or with a friend, two Sonics looks blankly onto either side while you try desperately to make the pieces fit. If you get a triple combo, Sonic will spin dash into the opposing side’s Sonic, leaving him goofy and dizzy. This dizzy animation is the best part of an otherwise forgettable and stupid puzzle game.

MUST MISS! / THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

WAKU WAKU SONIC PATROL CAR

 

WakuWaku

 

A children’s arcade game where Sonic takes on the role of Officer Sonic and chases Eggman off the streets of AnyPrefect, Japan. I’ll probably never play Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car, but I’m glad it exists, if only to have an official Sega drawing of Sonic wearing an adorable policeman’s cap.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 (8-BIT)

 

Sonic2GG

 

Contrary to popular belief, Tails actually debuted in the 8-bit iteration of Sonic 2 a month prior to 16-bit Sonic 2‘s release. Sort of. Sonic’s two-tailed fox buddy is in full-on captured princess mode, and is used by Robotnik to lure Sonic to his Crystal Egg lair. So yeah, Tails’ presence on the box art and in the title screen? A dirty lie for sweet, sweet sales. Despite this bait and switch, Sonic 2 is another great 8-bit Sonic adventure, and is completely distinct from the 16-bit version.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2

 

Sonic2

 

While I personally prefer the original Sonic for its simplicity – six zones, no extra characters, no extra moves, gotta go fast except not really – Sonic 2 is quite the epic blockbuster experience. There’s zones designed purely for speed (Chemical Plant), zones designed to piss you off even as you’re jamming to the BGM (Mystic Cave), and zones that shouldn’t have gotten past the concept stage (Metropolis). The Spin Dash makes its debut here, as does the golden-locked Super Sonic (if you get all the Chaos Emeralds), and Tails as the little brother who just won’t go away. There’s also an overblown plot about Robotnik’s Death Egg. In short, Sonic 2 is everything wonderful and terrible about the Sonic franchise.

MUST PLAY!

 

SEGASONIC THE HEDGEHOG

 

SegaSonic

 

Sonic… in the arcades! Makes sense. Even though Sega was doing gangbusters with the Mega Drive/Genesis in ’93, their bread and butter still lay with the arcade scene. Putting their most popular character into an arcade platformer seemed like only a matter of time. Except… wait? It’s not a platformer? It’s an isometric trackball running game co-starring two new doofus animals? Huh. SegaSonic was supposedly released outside of Japan in both Europe and the US, but I never saw it anywhere back in the day. The few reviews I’ve seen of this game on the web are mixed. Since most people have only played this in MAME, their experience of the game seems to differ based on the control inputs they set for themselves. One thing’s for sure: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel are no Sonic the Hedgehog.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS! / I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS.

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CD

 

SonicCD

 

As a wise executive once said, every popular franchise will eventually make time travel a key element of the story. In Sonic CD, you could travel to the past, present, and good and bad futures in each of the game’s seven zones. This makes for a grand total of a bazillion unique playthroughs, if you’re keen enough to play through this ambitious, convoluted mess more than once. Maybe I’d like Sonic CD more if it would let me move forward rather than force me to experiment with its non-linear time-traveling mechanics. Still, as lukewarm as I am on the game, I can’t front on the animated intro, the cheesy “Sonic Boom” title song, and the debut of Metal Sonic.

MUST PLAY! (WEIRD AS HELL, PLEASE TRY)

 

SONIC CHAOS

 

SonicChaos

 

Another 8-bit Sonic game that’s really good, but isn’t much different than the ones that came before it. OK, you can play as Tails (otherwise known as Easy Mode) and Sonic has Rocket Shoes that lets him zoom around the stage, but otherwise Sonic Chaos is more of the same bounce and spin goodness.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC SPINBALL

 

SpinballGen

 

Sonic Spinball isn’t a great Sonic game, but it is a great video pinball title. Sonic spends half his time cinched up in a ball anyway, so it only makes sense to thwack him with flippers and rack up some points in the meanwhile. The four pinball “tables” are surprisingly well designed, the bosses are memorable and terrifying (that Robotnik scorpion), and the bonus stages feature appearances from characters in the cartoons. Truly Sonic’s most underappreciated Genesis outing.

MUST PLAY!

 

SEGASONIC COSMO FIGHTER GALAXY PATROL

 

soniccosmofighter8

 

Sonic exchanges his officer’s cap for a bad-ass spaceship in this “sequel” to Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car. Robotnik isn’t just speeding without a permit across Japan this time. He’s stealing animals and suffocating the life out of them in space. For Patrolman Sonic, this abhorrent behavior simply won’t do. After you beat up Robotnik, the Galaxy Patrol gives your performance a star rating, then it’s back to traffic duty. Enjoy fighting the cosmo while you can.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3

 

Sonic3

 

Sonic 3 by itself is usually considered a half-game by most folks, a whistle wetter for the Lock-On Madness to come. And while there’s truth in this statement, the game succeeds on its own merits. Sonic 3 introduces the last great Sonic side-character, Knuckles, into the fray. Along with the hypnotic pseudo-3D special stages (introduced nearly a year before Donkey Kong Country‘s pseudo-3D blew minds everywhere), the bubble/lightning/fire shield items are some of the best in the series. The return to six zones is also a welcome one. Sonic 2 is way too long, and Sonic 3, when paired with Sonic & Knuckles, feels like some sort of neverending Sonic buffet hell that Sega’s forcing down your throat. Oh, and some musical savant named Michael Jackson helped compose pieces of the amazing soundtrack. Sonic 3 – in every way – is just right.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC DRIFT

 

SonicDrift

 

Before Sonic R befouled our screens with its clumsy racing and poorly rendered models, Sonic Drift set Japanese gamers hearts ablaze with its chibi kart action. Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Robotnik are your racers here. The six tracks here are based off of the zones found in Sonic 1, and come in three variants each for a total of eighteen tracks. Was Sonic Drift the first Mario Kart imitator? Maybe so. But even with the Game Gear’s tiny, blurry screen obstructing our vision, the racing within was better than it had any right to be.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG TRIPLE TROUBLE

 

TripleTrouble

 

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles star alongside Robotnik, Metal Sonic, and a new character, Nack the Weasel in this of the last traditional 8-bit Sonic outings. Triple Trouble is fine, but, apart from the ensemble cast, is otherwise indistinguishable from the other Game Gear games.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

TAILS AND THE MUSIC MAKER

 

TailsMusic

 

Hey kids, do you like pretending to make music? Do you like two-tailed foxes who have PhDs in music theory? Did your parents mistakenly get you the Pico instead of that Genesis you really wanted? Well, you’re in luck! In Tails and the Music Maker, you’ll guide Tails with the Pico’s Magic Pen across several pages of music-themed edutainment. And the misguided kids game bandwagon rolled on…

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG’S GAMEWORLD

 

SonicGameworld

 

Surely Sonic the Hedgehog’s Gameworld is a game. It says so right in the title! Alas, not much is known about Sonic’s second and final Pico outing. But given the system’s emphasis on early childhood educational titles, methinks Gameworld might be less of a game and more of a piece of crap. Just a hunch.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC & KNUCKLES

 

SonicandKnuckles

 

The beauty of Sonic & Knuckles‘s bulbous cart, complete with advanced Lock-On Technology, is that it’s actually a million games in one. There’s Sonic & Knuckles by itself, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic 2 & Knuckles, and whatever Genesis game you can think of & Knuckles. If you choose to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles, you can control either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles in the most exhausting 16-bit Sonic game ever. Thank God you can save or else nobody would have finished this adventure. In Sonic 2 & Knuckles, you can – wait for it – control Knuckles in Sonic 2. Knuckles can climb and glide through all of Sonic 2 if you want; perfect for speedrunners. Put almost any old Genesis cart you want on top of Sonic & Knuckles and you can play some ‘Blue Sphere’ bonus levels. Sonic 1 unlocks all the ‘Blue Sphere’ levels, while other games usually only give you one or two levels. So you see how Sonic & Knuckles was designed to consume the souls of all Genesis games that try to mount it. This is how Lock-On Technology works. “No WAY? NO WAY!”

MUST PLAY! (ALL OF THE GAMES)

 

SONIC DRIFT 2

 

SonicDrift2

 

The original Sonic Drift feels like a tech demo compared to Sonic Drift 2. Seven characters instead of four and eighteen different courses (instead of six courses with three different designs) make this a formidable Mario Kart competitor… or it would if it hadn’t have been on the ailing Game Gear. If any Game Gear Sonic title deserved a chance to shine on a non-blurry, high-res screen, it’s Sonic Drift 2.

MUST PLAY! (NOT ON THE GAME GEAR)

 

KNUCKLES CHAOTIX

 

Chaotix

 

It’s been about two decades since I played this loving ode to Depression-era jailbreak, but what I remember isn’t great. Knuckles and his rabble-rousing crew of misfits – Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and other Sonic characters you forgot existed – must navigate their way through Carnival Island while tethered together via a Ring Leash. The traditional Sonic stage design is fine, but the Leash itself makes progress slow and cumbersome. Worth a play just to see how bizarre it is, but not something to return to.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

ONWARD TO PART TWO

 

images courtesy of GameFAQS, SonicRetro, MobyGames, Retrogaming.com.ar, and special thanks to Reykun132 for their awesome portrayal of Officer Sonic

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13 thoughts on “Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 1

  1. Nice format. Unfortunately I think you’ve got a bit of a wait ahead of you before you reach the next batch of good ones!

    I’m surprised you rated SMS Sonic 2 so highly. I suppose it wasn’t terrible, but I thought it was a huge let down after the excellent 8-bit version of the first game. So much more trial and error. I rented it, finished it in an afternoon, and never returned to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What really annoys me about the first Sonic is that it just isn’t made for the speedy gameplay. On the other hand, you can say the same about Sonic CD, and I love that one.
    So, although I’d certainly say Sonic 1 is a ‘must play’, I have very mixed feelings on it.

    I am very certain though, that the franchise will never be able to top Sonic 3 & Knuckles. One of the best games ever made, IMO.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 2 | Sega Does

  4. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who prefers the original Sonic the Hedgehog over its sequel. I always felt the level design in the original was so tight and neat, and there are spots in the 2nd game (particularly in the underwater levels) where you can get caught in a spot that’s nigh-impossible to get out of, and the game becomes an exercise in frustration very quickly. The final stage is also a real pain to get through, and sucks some of the fun out of the game because the difficulty spikes so quickly. Were it not for the convoluted time travel mechanics and some of the levels having graphics that are too busy, I think Sonic CD would likely have made the superior follow-up, as it feels more like a logical successor to the original game to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” Were it not for the convoluted time travel mechanics and some of the levels having graphics that are too busy, I think Sonic CD would likely have made the superior follow-up, as it feels more like a logical successor to the original game to me.”

      I never thought about this, but you’re 100% right. Sonic CD almost feels like Sonic: The Lost Levels. Well observed.

      Like

  5. Pingback: Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 3 | Sega Does

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