Sonic the Hedgehog has had an amazing career as a video game star. He launched himself to superstardom as Sega's most popular franchise, found himself in a number of tough spots thereafter, and has subsequently been relegated to titles that are accepted by some gamers and detested by others. The iconic blue hedgehog recently celebrated his 20th anniversary, so we wanted to celebrate right along with him. GameZone looks back at the life of Sonic the Hedgehog by giving you the speedy critter's top 10 games of all time.
10. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
We know, we know—the physics were different and you despised that. But as much as some gamers hate on Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, many of us actually enjoyed the title. It was far from perfect, but it was still a great throwback to the old school Genesis days. Was this the big return to form we were all expecting? Not really. Did it offer a glimmer of hope for longtime fans of the series? Definitely, and it did so with its aesthetics, side-scrolling gameplay, and retro-inspired music. Bring on Episode 2!
9. Sonic Adventure
OK, so it might not be the hot title it once was, but there's no denying that Sonic Adventure was once an incredible thrill ride starring the notorious blue blur. To this day, many gamers believe that this is the game that did 3D Sonic the proper way. While that's debatable (as you'll see when you check out our number three pick), Sonic Adventure was a joyfully speedy platformer that looked and played like the Sonic of old—all in a brand new package.
8. Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing
Sonic spin-offs are usually pretty bad. Just look at Sonic the Fighters. But one recent spin-off had not only Sonic but also a bunch of other Sega characters taking to their vehicles and racing through cleverly designed tracks. Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing is a hectic, fast-paced racer that gives Mario Kart a run for its money and delivers the goods as far as kart racing games go. We'll never understand why Sonic drove a car instead of just running, but if you're a racing game fan and have yet to play Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, you're definitely missing out.
7. Sonic Advance 3
When the Sonic Advance games hit the Game Boy Advance, it was generally agreed upon that these side-scrolling platformers faithfully emulated the speed and gameplay of the original Genesis games. Sonic Advance 3 took everything that was good about its predecessors and added more crazy levels, more speedy goodness, and an enjoyable tag mode that allowed you to partner up characters and perform cool moves. If you're a fan of old school Sonic and never played Sonic Advance 3, find a used copy somewhere and take it for a spin. You owe it to yourself.
6. Sonic the Hedgehog CD
The Sega CD was a total failure, but Sonic the Hedgehog CD was anything but. Featuring stellar speedy platforming, impressive visuals, and an incredible soundtrack that took full advantage of the system's CD-ROM usage, the game was a true sequel to the Sonic name. To top things off, the game allowed players to travel through time and visit different versions of each level, offering plenty of sights to see. It's a shame the Sega CD didn't fare all that well because a sequel would have been awesome.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog
This wouldn't be a proper list if the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis didn't make the cut. Not surprisingly, the speedy blue one's first adventure is also one of his greatest. Even to this day, it plays incredibly well and offers excellent level design, charming art, and wonderful music. Because the game is so hot even after all these years, it would be wrong for it not to be included in the top half of this greatest hits list.
4. Sonic Colors DS
When people complained about Sonic 4 late last year, the prescription to their blues was simple: Sonic Colors for the Nintendo DS. The game played a lot like the Sonic Advance titles and was a great throwback to the Sonic games of old. The music and locales, however, were fresh and modern, offering something a lot different from most side-scrolling titles in the series in terms of presentation. Adding even more variety were the Wisps, alien creatures that granted Sonic special abilities such as underground drilling, upward flight, and more. These abilities added a welcome change of pace to the mostly speedy gameplay, and in some cases even more hectic velocity. A Sonic game with power-ups that are actually kick-ass? Yes, please!
3.Sonic Colors Wii
Despite sharing the same name, Sonic Colors for the Wii and Sonic Colors for the DS are two entirely different games. Some of the music and stages are seen in both titles, and the story remains largely the same, but from a gameplay standpoint, these are two drastically different experiences. As rewarding as Sonic Colors for the DS may be, its Wii counterpart is still far more satisfying. This is because Sega managed to do something they've been attempting for a long time: making an amazing 3D Sonic game. Incredible sense of speed? Check. Beautiful level design and some of the best visuals on the Wii? Definitely. An impressive sense of scope that at times made Sonic seem like a tiny spec on a massive world? Damn right. Sonic Colors is the best Sonic game to come along in years.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The first Sonic the Hedgehog turned a lot of heads and gave Mario some competition, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 offered tons more to love. Improved visuals, another great soundtrack, new levels, fun two-player modes, and a trusty sidekick in Miles "Tails" Prower made the second installment one of the most memorable side-scrollers of its era. Also, the spin dash. We can't forget how pivotal that move has been since its debut in Sonic 2. Simply put, the series probably wouldn't be as fun without this effective mechanic. As far as direct sequels go, Sonic 2 is one of the best of all time. As far as Sonic games go, it's almost perfect.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog 3
As awesome as Sonic 2 is—and it's freaking awesome—Sonic the Hedgehog 3 took the tried and true formula to the next level. Bigger stages, livelier worlds, stunning backgrounds, yet another epic soundtrack, and a save feature that allowed players to record progress and continue playing at a later time all made this entry the undisputed champ of the Sonic franchise. The game was a lot bigger, offering a lengthy adventure that was enthralling from beginning to end. Oh, and it introduced Knuckles, the lone wolf badass of the Sonic universe. To this day, no game in the series has managed to impress quite like Sonic the Hedgehog 3, making it the most deserving candidate for the title of best Sonic game of all time.
The Sonic series has been on a rocky path for the past several years, but a number of titles have been enjoyable. Sonic fans are usually very skeptical when it comes to newer games, but any of the ones listed here faithfully deliver immense quality in one way or another. If you've missed out on any of these games, track them down immediately, as they are easily the 10 best games on Sonic's resume.