Remember when I did those lists like “My guilty pleasures” or “Defending the lesser loved characters”? Lists that made you feel good about your Hedgehog hobby? Yeah, this is not one of those lists. Sorry. This time, I’m gonna tear apart some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed Sonic titles for the brilliant but flawed games that they really are. Games that got far more praise than they deserved. Even games I happen to love myself that have some bad design choices. Get ready! It’s time to take off the rose-tinted nostalgia goggles and find the lumps of coal inside these diamonds!
Sonic The Hedgehog 1991 (Sega Genesis)
Now this is a hell of a way to start a list! The one that started it all. The classic game that first introduced us to the speedy hedgehog. Notice what almost every new remake of the game added? The spindash. Why? Because outside of the Green Hill Zone (and one or two other zones), this game is SLOOOOW!
It was a fantastic game for its time, but when you play other classic Sonic games with great pacing and flow like Sonic 2 or 3, you’re BEGGING for more speed. Especially when you go from a speedy fun-filled world like Green Hill and then get dropped into the dull, drab world of the Marble Zone. I go from loop-de-loops rolling super fast down hills to the point where you can’t even see me toooo…..pushing a block into lava and riding it very, very slowly. Oh look, the lava pushed the block up. Whee.
Let’s be honest here, if you were forced to lose a classic Sonic game out of the original trilogy, this would be the first one to go. It’s still a great game, but it’s not quite as fun or fast-paced as the other two.
Ohhhh this is painful as it’s one of my favorites. Sonic Rush has Blaze the Cat, incredible speed and a wonderful soundtrack by Hideki Naguma (Jet Set Radio). I absolutely love this game and have played through it several times. However…..
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. DIMPS is really good on a TECHNICAL level. They can do the graphics, physics and the engine of a game just fine but when it comes to actual level design, they tend to suck. Sadly Sonic Rush is no different. This is the first Sonic game to use the boost mechanic and it does so to the point where there’s barely any actual platforming to be had. “Boost to win” became a meme due to this game, but that’’s still not so bad as it gives the game a great sense of speed. What is bad is that when you finally get to a point where jumping from platform to platform is important, it does so when you’re highest in the air and any wrong step can kill you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had Altitude Limit push them to their limits of patience.
All in all Sonic Rush is still a wonderful game IMO, But still, it’s far from flawless.
Now, if you wanna see an over-praised game with REALLY bad level design, here you go. Sonic CD has AWESOME music, great graphics, Metal Sonic, Amy and….some anime stuff at the beginning and end. That said the level design makes it one of the poorer 2-D Sonic games out there. Sorry, but it’s true. First off, the time traveling is a HUGE pain in the ass. “Oh, you wanna go to the past? Here, hit this sign and get enough speed and a good place to run at full speed for ten seconds. Whoops! You hit a ramp at a wrong angle. Too bad! Try again. Whoops you hit a future sign just as you got to full speed! Have fun in your ugly, bad future!”
Seriously, who though have to run for so long in these levels that are far more vertically inclined was a good idea? If you’re trying to make a good future it’s a horrible, hair-pulling chore that ends up being no fun at all. Even if you don’t care about that stuff and want to just play straight through can be either good, or awful thanks to really poor level design that either bounces you high into the air and gets you lost and stuck in parts. Wacky Workbench itself may go down as one of the worst 2-D Sonic levels ever not to mention those “Super FX” 3-D bonus levels where you can’t quite judge if you’re about to land on road or time sucking water.
If you go into Sonic CD for great music, cool boss fights and just play straight through, you’ll have a pretty good time. If you’re a completionist who wants to have the best ending, be prepared to scream in frustration.
Sonic Adventure 2
Please note that I’m not including “Battle” because the multiplayer does make the game a fair amount better.
Oooohoho! This is by far number one on my overrated list. “Why don’t they make good 3-D Sonic game like Sonic Adventure 2?!” “Remember how good Sonic games USED to be like Adventure 2?” Time to take off your nostalgia glasses boys and girls because in my humble and always correct opinion SONIC ADVENTURE 2 SUCKS!! It is SO undeserving of it’s praise. It is so far from perfect and really shows where Sonic Team was starting to go downhill.
I know you’re gonna go into the comment section about how wrong I am and what a great game this is but let me ask you a question. If they re-tooled this game and took all the admittedly great Sonic and Shadow levels out, would there be ANYTHING good to say about what’s left? Not much, if any.
All those fond memories of the game are pretty much anchored to the Sonic and Shadow levels. They are fast, cool and very well done. The rest of the game however, goes from boring to frustrating garbage. The Tails/Eggman shooter levels are just bland and far too slow paced for a Sonic game while the Knuckles/Rouge levels take the “meh” Emerald Hunting from the first Sonic Adventure and somehow screwed it all up by forcing the radar to only react to one emerald shard at a time leading to a frustrating, controller-throwing mess. I’ve literally stood next to an emerald shard and the radar did NOTHING!
And it’s not like the first Sonic Adventure where you can choose any character at any time so you can skip the stuff you don’t like. No, no, no. You gotta wade through all this crap just to get to the good stuff. Let me play as only Sonic or Shadow and I’d be a lot happier. Then there’s the story. It’s admittedly fairly well written I don’t mind a Sonic story getting a little more mature, but gunning down a little girl? A Big-Breasted bat? A moody, violent anti-hero? This is like, Penders/Bollers late 90’s Archie Sonic stuff here and I don’t care for it personally.
People crap all over Sonic Unleashed for the Werehog and they’re right in doing so because those levels are far too long. However, I’ll take a Werehog level any day of the week over any Rouge/Knuckles levels in Sonic Adventure 2. To me, it’s very undeserving of its praise.
Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below. Just please, keep it civil.
Jason says to please give all your hate mail to Hogfather @ sonicstadium.com 😉
(Don’t, please. I’m just kidding.)