As Sonic the Hedgehog approaches his 25th anniversary, and Sega continues to tease that they have an announcement for the occasion, let’s look at the best of his more recent games.
It’s been said that Sonic has struggled with transitioning to the 3D gaming world. And I’ll admit, there are some bad games like Sonic 06 or Sonic Boom in the last few years, there have been some truly amazing games in the 3D era that have adhered to the basic ideas of Sonic games: speed and exploration. And we’re going to look at the best of them.
5. Sonic Lost World (Wii U)
It’s rather ironic that I start this list with a game that I admit annoys me a lot. My annoyance comes from Sonic Team deciding to disregard what was a perfect control and gameplay style with its predecessor to make something that felt more akin to Super Mario Galaxy. I’m even frustrated that they brought back the Wisps, given that the little power-up creatures presence in previous games was story-based and there’s no reason they exist here. The tone of the game is all over the place, with the cartoon art style and humor clashing with some random dark lines of dialogue and story, and the Deadly Six antagonists feel really out of place in a Sonic game. That said, the level design is creative and the new parkour-style platforming is fun. This game does surprise me often with how creative its platforming can be, so that’s why it’s kicks off our list.
4. Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS3, Xbox 360)
I’m not going to lie, I had a hard time choosing between this one and its predecessor. Sonic Adventure felt like a big RPG with its epic storyline and large hub worlds. But the fact is, as a game, Sonic Adventure 2 is the total package, with good gameplay complimented by an interesting story that introduced us to Shadow the Hedgehog, well before he began to wear out his welcome. The levels were massive, with all kinds of secrets and bonus items to find, and the alternating gameplay between the six playable characters was engaging. There’s a reason that there’s a vocal group in the Sonic fanbase that want a game that’s a true sequel to this one.
3. Sonic Colors (Wii)
I remember how much the gaming press at the time was so focused on the retro throwback Sonic 4 and seemed to be ignoring this one. And given how much derision the retro game had upon release and how loved this game is now, you can see the mistake made. This was the second in what I call the Hedgehog Engine trilogy, which used the gameplay engine designed by Sonic Team to give Sonic fast gameplay and platforming that could switch between behind-the-back full 3D and 2D style side-scrolling. This was also the first game with Roger Craig Smith doing Sonic’s voice, and with that also came a new writing style for the story that felt more like a Saturday morning cartoon, which was a refreshing change after the constant doomsday stakes previous games had. The Wisps made their debut here, and it worked with the game’s story while giving you plenty of ways to explore the game’s levels and discover more secrets. It’s a simple game that welcomes new fans as well as old ones, and that alone makes one of the good games in the series.
2. Sonic Unleashed (PS3, Xbox 360)
I didn’t include the Wii/PS2 version because it simply was not a good game, with levels cut and more emphasis on the Werehog stages. Speaking of, the Werehog levels often get too much hate for existing, when all they are is a Sonic-style God of War. But the real highlight are the daytime Sonic stages, showcasing the high levels of speed and fun that the series needed to reinvigorate it after the disaster of the proceeding game, Sonic 06. But the main reason it’s so high is the genuine level of challenge. The game has a legitimate high level of difficulty as you progress, putting players through their paces in a way that doesn’t come off as cheap. If you skipped this one because of the Werehog, give it another look. There’s a lot of fun to be had here. Just make sure it’s the PS3 or Xbox360 version.
1. Sonic Generations (PS3, Xbox 360)
Sonic’s 20th anniversary game deserves this top spot. It’s a great celebration of the franchise’s history with plenty of easter eggs for diehard fans. It’s a great way to bring both old and new-school fans together with the ability to alternate between Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic, bringing the Genesis era gameplay alongside the Hedgehog Engine. But most importantly, it’s just the most fun to play. I’m hard pressed to not smile when I pop this one in to try and break my record on a stage or take on a boss. I highly recommend that you play this one if you only play one 3D era Sonic game. After all, it’ll give the full experience of Sonic’s history in an enjoyable fun package, and that’s why it’s my number 1 3D Sonic game.
Like this list? Disagree? Let us know what your favorite 3D Sonic game is and why in the comments section.