While we’ve had the Wii U for a full year now, the PS4 and X-Box One have made their debut. Since Sonic Lost World is part of the new generation of systems, I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on the best Sonic games of this past Generation. It was a hard list to make, not because there was a ton of great Sonic games to choose from but because there were so few to be brutally honest. Also, I have one rule to this list, no spinoffs. This means no Mario and Sonic or All-Stars Racing. (I should have been stricter with the staff pics and added no remakes or fan games but too little too late.) I wanted this to focus solely on Sonic. This means there’s a game in here that wouldn’t normally make any top five list. So prepare for the good, the great and the…..meh.
NOTE: This is an opinionated article and everyone’s gonna have their favorites, so if your list is different from mine that’s fine but let’s make a huge fuss over it okay?
5 – Sonic and the Secret Rings (Nintendo Wii)
Yeeeeah. Here’s your “meh” game of the list. I really did love this game when it came out but there were circumstances outside of the game itself that helped made this so. Secret Rings came out near the same time as horrible abomination known as Sonic ’06. Compared to that monstrosity, Secret Rings was a masterpiece. It was also around the time when the Wii was fresh and new, so motion controls seemed like a pretty cool thing at the time. The game was very unique, had a great leveling system and probably the best Wii graphics until Mario Galaxy came out.
However, time has not been kind to this game. Having to traverse the same level in a different fashion over and over can get tiring and leveling up may drive you mad thanks to the overuse of the main theme. “Make believe reborn! Make believe reborn! MAKE BELIEVE REBORN!” AAAAAHHH! Still, it was the uniqueness and creativity of this game that I enjoyed and hey, it’s still better than Black Knight.
4 – Sonic Rush (Nintendo DS)
Yes! Now this is more like it! My favorite portable Sonic title of all time (sorry Advance fans), Sonic Rush marks DIMPS last great Sonic game before they really started to drift downhill in level design quality (Rush Adventure was still pretty dang good though). It may not have the best designed levels, but it hit a lot of buttons for me that really made me enjoy it. First off, the music done by Hideki Naganuma (Jet Set Radio) is absolutely fantastic! It’s full of frenetic energy that really gets you into the game, especially with the crazy speed this one offers. Whether you consider it good or bad, this was the first Sonic game to use boost. The other new thing it brought was Blaze the Cat. Easily the best new character since Knuckles (sorry Shadow fans), DIMPS not only made the smart idea of having her play similar to Sonic, but she had more depth into her character background than any Sonic character before. Sonic Rush is not just in my top five of the last generation, but in my top five 2-D Sonic games.
3 – Sonic Unleashed (X-Box 360, PS3)
I know, I know….Werehog. The concept is absurd (so is a super-fast talking hedgehog), and his gameplay was just so-so but still, I loved this game! I loved the incredible CGI intro, I loved the huge world to explore, I love the detailed graphics and the designs on the humans, I even loved the hub world and talking to villagers (so sue me), but most of all it was those awesome daytime levels. This is the start of what I like to call the “Orbot era”. When Sonic Team finally started to find their ground and produce a quality product. They really nailed a great formula for Sonic in 3-D and it worked wonderfully.
However, it was still far from perfect. The Werehog levels, while not really that bad, overstayed their welcome after about the first ten minutes or so of each level. The problem wasn’t that they played that poorly (alternate levels such Big the Cat in SA1 or Knuckles/Rouge in SA2 played FAR worse), it’s that they went on for far too long. Anywhere from 30-45 minutes while Sonics’ daytime levels tended to last around 3-5 minutes. This presented a major problem is they were by far the showcase of the game. It was having very short levels of almost “Mario Galaxy” quality with very long, mediocre levels of “Crash of the Titans” quality. Still, with its world traveling story, beautiful graphics and a wonderful soundtrack by Tomoya Ohtani (Sonic Lost World), I’d take Unleashed over Sonic Adventure 2 any day (maybe not SA1 though).
Now, these last two have been going over my head for months. I’m sure you know which two I’m talking about. This was a really tough choice. There were many factors I considered. Both are great. both have a few faults. One is more original and creative, the other is a critical favorite that is sort of a “best of”. So who makes the top of the list and who is in second place? Man, as I’m typing this I’m still having a tough time deciding. Here goes.
2 – Sonic Generations (X-Box 360, PS3, PC)
One of the absolute best 3-D Sonic games ever made. Sonic Generations is the best kind of anniversary game you could make (much better than slapping a virtual console game on a disc with an extra soundtrack). Sonic Generations combined some of the best moments of all past Sonic games into one title. It not only perfected the 3-D formula started with Unleashed, but brought back the classic, momentum-based 2-D gameplay of the originals with a shiny, new 3-D coat. The soundtrack was a great remix of old tunes from a ton of former Sonic music composers both old and new. It wasn’t just a rock solid Sonic game, it was a celebration of the series. A love letter to both the franchise and it’s fans.
It wasn’t flawless though. The main story itself was as simplistic as they come, but maybe that’s a good thing. It was far more focused on the gameplay. The only really annoying factor was the last two bosses. This was especially the case with the final boss. It was difficult enough to fight through, but having to hear the same dialog over and over was grating. Still, this was the only flaw in an otherwise fantastic game.
1 – Sonic Colors (Nintendo Wii)
Okay, I’ll admit it. On a technical and gameplay level, Sonic Generations is a little bit superior. But Sonic Colors is still at the top of my list for several reasons. For one thing, the story drops all that damn furry melodrama that plagued the games of the early 2000’s and went for a more comical tone reminiscent of “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” with Eggman’s PDA announcements being especially hilarious. Not only that, but the environments were very original from what we’ve seen in a Sonic game in a while. Gone were the slightly more realistic, city worlds of the Adventure series or the homages to the classic series with “Whatever Hill” being another Green Hill knockoff. Instead we get several planets brought together to make one giant amusement park. From a Candy themed roller coaster to a run in outer space with laser rainbow bridges, every environment felt new and original. The gameplay offered up something new with the Wisps, aliens that could give Sonic super abilities. Sadly, the Wisps never worked as well in later games as they do in this one. Then there’s the soundtrack. Ohtani’s best work to date. Every theme fit the environment beautifully and is one of my favorite Sonic soundtracks of all time. My only real negatives are that the double jump didn’t work quite as well as hoped and the bosses tended to be very, very easy. In the end though, this is my personal favorite 3-D Sonic game
So that’s my top five. Let’s see what some of the staff picked.
5. Sonic Unleashed
4. Sonic and the Secret Rings
3. Sonic Rush
2. Sonic Generations
1. Sonic Colours
5: Sonic CD re-release
4: Sonic Unleashed HD
3: Sonic 1 iOS re-release
2: Sonic Colours
1: Sonic Generations
5: Sonic 1 remastered edition (Would be higher if it were on a handheld console… don’t like using a phone to play this).
4: Sonic Rivals 1 & 2.(Sorry I had to cheat).
3: Sonic Unleashed HD
2: Sonic CD: Taxman Edition of Hooray
1: Sonic Generations
5: Unleashed HD
3: Sonic CD: Remastered
2: Sonic 1: Remastered
1: Sonic Generations
Well, that’s our top five of the last generation, what’s yours? Let us know in the comments below. Stay tuned next week for the five worst. This is gonna be good.