UPDATE: I just found out and added that Marvelous (then known as MarvelousAQL) helped with Mario & Sonic London 2012 3DS!
Hello again! 🙂 Over the past while I’ve made lookbacks covering two Sonic games on Nintendo systems, specifically Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic Unleashed, both for Wii, and I thought, you know what, why don’t I just cover the whole history? Of course, the opinions in this article reflect my own thoughts and may not reflect the thoughts of the other Staff members. With that, let’s start from the very beginning…
A rivalry past, comes friendship to last
Back in 1991, the gaming industry was still in its infancy, Nintendo had taken the gaming world by storm thanks to an Ape who’d later kick some tail, and in the mid-80’s with a console that again took the world by storm, and the man to spearhead that success was an Italian Plumber named Mario. Sega, looking from afar, didn’t want Nintendo to have the whole pizza pie, they knew they needed to come up with a character of their own to spawn an entirely new franchise, and commissioned three individuals; Hirokazu Yasuhara, Naoto Ohshima, and Yuji Naka to brainstorm and piece together something so good that it can challenge the mighty plumber. This resulted in this odd blue spiky thing, called Sonic the Hedgehog, you might have heard of him.
And Sega did what no other thought was possible, they succeeded in making a mascot that made Nintendo sweat! With a string of great games with the original Sonic games on the Sega Genesis, Nintendo had to up their game to keep up! But then things got hairy (and not just due to some tie-wearing Gorilla and red cap-wearing Monkey either!), after a lot of misdirection and failed ideas and hardware mistakes (add-ons didn’t exactly catch on), this ended up hurting Sega so badly, that even when Dreamcast was Sega’s shining star in reception and sales (set the industry record for highest debut), it wasn’t enough, and on January 31, 2001, Sega announced they would bow out of the hardware race and go Third-Party.
This obviously shook the Earth, this meant Sega would actually have to make games for what were once their most bitter rivals, and ESPECIALLY make Sonic games on NINTENDO consoles, has hell frozen over?!
Well apparently the results weren’t all that bad, as believe it or not, Sonic has been on Nintendo hardware longer than he ever was on Sega’s own. Hell, if my math is correct, he has had more Nintendo exclusives than all games on Sega’s hardware combined. Think about that!
And you know what? We are going to look most of them, all the exclusives, ones with Nintendo themselves, and other notable titles, right here, right now, only leaving out some rare exceptions which I’ll of course address.
I’ll be focusing on the console games first. Let us begin!
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Developer: Sonic Team USA Release Date: December 20, 2001 (JP) February 11, 2002 (NA) May 3, 2002 (PAL)
Yes, the game that rocked the world by seeing Sonic running on a Nintendo home console for the very first time. And it was a damn good game at that, one of my all-time favorite games bar none. You know it, the catchy tunes, the variety, the Chao, it was bliss for me. This game stayed as a GameCube exclusive for a very long time, not being ported until the HD version a few years back. This didn’t even get a PC release until then, unlike Sonic Adventure DX which did get a PC version just a few months after the GameCube version, so yeah, after the Dreamcast, if you wanted to play this, you had to get a GameCube.
Sonic Mega Collection
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: November 10, 2002 (NA) December 19, 2002 (JP) March 7, 2003 (EU)
So after being introduced to Sonic with a killer game, Sega gave Nintendo fans a truckload more in a single package, containing every single Genesis Sonic game including Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Blue Sphere, Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast, and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. And with Flicky and Ristar to top it all off (did you know the character designer of Ristar is Yuji Uekawa who of course redesigned every Sonic character in Sonic Adventure?). If you had a GameCube and loved Sonic, you were pretty damn set, and the good stuff would keep on coming. This game remained exclusive for about two years, later being ported to the PS2 and Xbox as Sonic Mega Collection Plus, adding in some Game Gear games and some early footage of Sonic Heroes’ cutscenes, among other things.
Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut
Developer: Sonic Team/NOWPRO (Mission Mode) Release Date: June 18, 2003 (NA) June 19, 2003 (JP) June 27, 2003 (EU)
And more goodness did come. The OTHER favorite Sonic game of mine, this was was actually a much bigger retooling than Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was. It features redesigned character models (well, except Big, Gamma, and Eggman seemingly…), completely redone textures, uped the framerate to 60fps (most of the time :P), an all-new Mission Mode (developed by NOWPRO), additions to the Chao from SA2, and an actual incentive to getting all the emblems; Metal Sonic… as a model-swap of Sonic in Time Trial mode, hey, it’s something! 😛 If you loved SA2B, you’d likely instantly fall in love with this game, even with it’s glitches and what not, it’s no Sonic ’06 or Sonic Boom, nowhere NEAR close. As a major bonus, you get the ENTIRE Sonic Game Gear catalog upon collecting emblems (every 20), these include; Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Triple Trouble, Sonic Blast, Sonic Drift, Sonic Drift 2, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Sonic Labyrinth (yaaaay…) Tails Adventure, and for the first time outside Japan, Tails’ Sky Patrol!
Developer: Sonic Team USA Release Date: December 30, 2003 (JP) January 5, 2004 (NA) February 6, 2004 (PAL)
And here comes the first true multiplat Sonic game, releasing on not just GameCube, but also on PlayStation 2 and Xbox (and makes it the first console game NOT on a Sega console). It’s apparently been said that the game was made specifically on the GC (naturally, as the team would be very familiar with it by now), and then ported to the Xbox, as well as to the PS2… but with less than stellar results for the latter. All your favs are back, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Rouge, Amy, Cream, Big, the trio from Knuckles Chaotix, being Espio, Charmy, and Vector, and newcomers Omega and Cream (and Cheese the Chao). Mighty’s invitation must’ve got eaten by the giant alligator in Lost Jungle (Vector: “Who?”). The game’s reception is a bit divided, but I personally really loved it, the graphics were a bump up from the Adventure games, even the shiny models grew on me, the framerate was a flawless 60fps. Yeah Heroes was disappointing after the Adventure games, but it was great then and I see it even more favorably now all things considered. It’s the game I consider to be closest to being Sonic Adventure 3 (emblems, composers, voice actors, characters, etc). Unlike the Adventure games, there was no JP voice track in the GC version at least which I found very odd, also the last major unlockable was a Super Hard Mode for Team Sonic, pretty anti-climactic in I’m honest. Speaking of voice actors, this is the last console game to feature the original voice cast from Sonic Adventure to this point, with 4kids taking over in the following year with Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Rush. Sonic Heroes also used the middle-ware engine called RenderWare created by Criterion (makers of Burnout) to help out with bringing the game to all three systems at the same time.
Sonic Gems Collection
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: August 11, 2005 (JP) September 30, 2005 (EU) August 16, 2005 (NA)
Here we have the second collection, containing Sonic’s later post-Genesis games such as Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighters/Sonic Championship, and Sonic R, as well as about half of the Game Gear line-up, seemingly the missing ones are in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, likely since both games are on PS2 (the PS2 version of Gems only came out in Japan and EU, skipping NA). So for GC owners, these Game Gear games were a tad redundant if you owned SADX and got most of the emblems. 😛 The game also contained most of the Genesis line-up as timed demos, but the funny thing is, all are actually fully-intact, allowing you to fully play them provided you use an Action Replay to freeze the timers. But if you have Sonic Mega Collection anyway, this wasn’t a concern. One advantage Gems Collection had over Mega Collection was the addition of 480p support (likely for Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R, since the sprite-based games were interlaced anyway, thus 480p wasn’t deemed necessary for Mega Collection) What’s also interesting is that judging by the fact TT Games have their current logo in Sonic R, that would imply they actually came back to do the port of the game, making their first time working on the series since the PC version of the game back in 1998, also they were working with Sega on Super Monkey Ball Adventure at the same time so that would’ve helped as well.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Developer: Sonic Team USA Release Date: November 15, 2005 (NA) November 18, 2005 (PAL) December 15, 2005 (JP) December 22, 2005 (KOR)
Here’s that damn forth GC game… if Gems wasn’t the fourth (DAMMIT!). So yeah, after losing his memories in Heroes, Shadow is on a quest to get the answers he’s been seeking. Will you be good, or evil? Well it doesn’t matter since Shadow did NOT destroy the damn planet. The game brought gunplay into the series as well as vehicles (which would return in Shadow’s levels on Sonic ’06). And that damn Hedgehog had the tendency to say that damn d-word a whole damn lot. And so, people didn’t take kindly to Mr. Ow the Edge being as edgy as edgy does, and the forced playthrough to every single ending in the game to finally get to the last story was not exactly a high point. So even after the game came out and answered questions, the game was deemed awful and people quickly got tired of Shadow. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Also what was up with Sonic Battle already having Shadow be his old self, and with the original voice cast to boot? Speaking of which! This is indeed the game that brought the major recast of voice actors from Sonic Adventure and ending with Sonic Advance 3. People didn’t take it well, and some still today with this event had never occurred. it’s worth noting that aside from some rare exceptions, the Japanese voice cast remained the same since SA1, to this very day.
Developer: Sonic Team UGA/NOWPRO Release Date: February 21, 2006 (NA) February 23, 2006 (JP) March 17, 2006 (EU) March 23, 2006 (AUS)
Now we have the first console spin-off that’s not a compilation, since Sonic Shuffle in the modern era (I consider Shadow mainline). This game sort of takes a page from Kirby Air Ride where you’re racing on a hoverboard called EXTREME GEAR!!! and with a simple control scheme (though here you have more to do like use drift and special moves with the B button and A to jump) where Kirby was just steer with the stick and drift with any button really (attacks and items were automatically used when claimed). This introduced the Babylon Rogues (that’s “Babel-Long” in case you’re unsure of the pronunciation :P); Jet the Hawk, Wave the Swallow, and Storm the Albatross. Actually, it’s funny, if Wave was voiced by Amy Palant instead of Bella Hudson, each of the two teams’ actors would voice both of their counterparts (Jason Griffith = Sonic and Jet, Dan Green = Knucklehead and Storm). This game marks the debut of Rumblebee into the series, singing the Babylon Rogue’s theme song Catch Me If You Can, he’ll get a lot more work in the series as time passes. 🙂
I originally skipped Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Riders, because as far as I am aware, there’s nothing Nintendo-specific about them at all, with the MINOR exception being this odd mention by Yuji Naka back in 2005 of a mysterious GameCube Sonic game being underway at the time, was it Shadow? Was it Riders? Maybe it was Gems Collection, none were fully GC-exclusive though, we never got a full confirmation about the definite identity of the game, was it even addressing a GC-exclusive to begin with? Hopefully this will be cleared up someday.
So with that, that ends the GameCube era, and with that, a new generation begins, with many surprises for Sonic to come ahead.
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Developer: Sonic Team/NOWPRO (Party Mode) Release Date: February 20, 2007 (JP) March 2, 2007 (EU) March 8, 2007 (AUS) March 15, 2007 (JP)
And here we have our first Wii game. This resulted when Sega originally planned on porting Sonic ’06 to Wii, but a few reasons prompted the switch; first, they wanted to get the game out as close as possible to the Wii’s launch, and second, naturally the Wiimote was of great interest to them. this resulted in the Sonic ’06 team splitting in two, with Shun Nakamura staying to direct Sonic ’06, while Yojiro Qgawa took on the Wii game. to combat this split and obviously needing more resources, they hired NOWPRO to develop the game’s multiplayer party mode, the same team also made the Mission Mode in Sonic Adventure DX as said and did the bulk of Sonic Rider’s development (later entries were taken over by O-TWO). Also, the singer Rumblebee was brought back from Sonic Riders to sing all the songs in the game. Certainly gave the game its own identity I’d say. 🙂
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/Racjin Release Date: November 6, 2007 (NA) November 22, 2007 (AUS/JP) November 23, 2007 (EU)
Wait, wasn’t this announced like just before April Fool’s Day? This can’t possibly be real? Wait, it is? Yes it is! For the first time ever, Mario and Sonic are together in a video game… in the Olympic Games? Well, it was said this was due to make the odds even… but still… Despite what kind of game people wanted both franchises to crossover in (did anyone ask for an Olympics game? I can’t imagine anyone would have), we have Yuji Naka to thank for bringing this idea to life! This was likely the final game released by Sega with Yuji Naka’s involvement before his departure in May 2006 and the founding of his company Prope just after (they would work together on Let’s Tap and Let’s Catch on Wii and WiiWare respectively in the following year). Also worth noting this is the first game on this list to also release with a handheld companion on DS! While the game wasn’t a big hit critically and not really with the veteran fans, it sure as hell made a gigantic splash at retail. People ate this up big time, over 11 million to be exact (7.09 million on Wii and 4.22 million on DS). O_o Finally, Rumblebee was called in to be the official announcer in the game, a role he has retained to this very day! Also, the developer Sega Sports R&D was actually part of Smilebit back in the old days.
Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
Developer: Sonic Team UGA/O-TWO/Xeen Release Date: January 8, 2008 (NA) January 17, 2008 (JP) February 22, 2008 (EU) March 6, 2008 (AUS)
Here’s the second game in the Sonic Riders series, and is actually a Wii exclusive in Japan. Again, I’d like to point you to my lookback on this game on this site for a full rundown on the game near the top, and why it is my number one fav Sonic game of the 7th generation, again, read it for a full explanation after you lift your jaw off the ground. 😉 In short, this is a very well made game and runs like butter, it’s the only Sonic game I personally know that runs in a flawless 60fps on consoles from the 7th gen onward (Sonic Free Riders apparently also runs in 60fps but I can’t vouch if it’s locked and doesn’t dip at all), the only other contenders would be Sonic ’06 (yeah, it ain’t winning that contest) and Sonic Lost World (it does not stay at perfect 60fps). Point is, for a spin-off and by B-teams, it’s very well put together. Also for those afraid of the controls, if you’ve played and love the original on GC, don’t be, it’s really easy to control I find and even on Wii U where you can’t use the GC controller, it’s still simple enough to control with the Wiimote on its side. Once again Rumblebee returns to sing the vocal tracks in the game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Developer: Sora Ltd/Game Arts (and loads of supporting devs, too many to list) Release Date: January 31, 2008 (JP) March 9, 2008 (NA) June 26, 2008 (AUS) June 27, 2008 (EU)
It finally happened, a hoax created by Electronic Gaming Monthly all those years ago teasing us that if we KO’d 20 opponents in Super Smash Bros. Melee’s Cruel Melee mode, we’d unlock Sonic and Tails, and all of those Mario vs. Sonic sprite videos, had finally come true, just in the sequel and without the ludicrous requirement (to some anyway, you should’ve seen the Toad rumor that tasked you to shoot every credit at the end of a single player mode, yeah, good luck with that!). The funny thing is, the former was THIS close to being true, Yuji Naka once again steps in to spill the beans, claiming such a deal almost took place but was far too late at that point (likely couldn’t have been made until Sega were sure they were going 3rd-Party I guess, since Melee was about 11 months to completion when that announcement happened and Sakurai was on a TIGHT schedule). The game featured lots of classic (mostly post-Adventure) songs to listen to (including the prototype theme of His World from ’06, including it’s version of the stage clear theme for Sonic’s victory song, go figure), but also featured a single remix of Angel Island done by Jun Senoue himself (he did compose the original and Sonic 3 was his first Sonic game soundtrack composed for).
Sega Superstars Tennis
Developer: Sumo Digital Release Date: March 17, 2008 (EU) March 18, 2008 (NA) March 27, 2008 (AUS)
Does this count as a Sonic game? I guess so. 🙂 Well this is the first Sonic game in quite a long while to be made by an external western developer (Sumo is in the UK!) with Traveler’s Tales (also in the UK) being the last from Sonic R, and a familiar composer returns from then as well; Richard Jacques! And is also Sumo’s first Sonic game, but not their first Sega game. They worked together before on games like Out Run 2 on Xbox, and Virtua Tennis 3 on 360, PC, and PSP. Sega and Sumo would drop the Superstars name after this (may as well, I don’t see a whole lot of relation between this and the original Sega Superstars on PS2 which was by Yuji Naka and Sonic Team other than it being a crossover game, the following games feel like follow ups to this more specifically, will this be retitled Sonic & All-Stars Tennis someday?).
Developer: Sonic Team/O-TWO/Xeen/Dimps (Daytime level design) Release Date: November 18, 2008 (NA) November 27, 2008 (AUS) November 28, 2008 (EU) December 18, 2008 (JP)
Now we have the first Wii version of an HD Sonic game (this proves that they could’ve brought Sonic ’06 over, it just might not have been exactly the same, but that’s another story), and this also came out on PS2 also as did Zero Gravity, but again, the PS2 version never came out in Japan. The game on Wii/PS2 versus the HD versions is VERY divided amongst fans and press alike, scoring some widely different scores, usually very in favor of the Wii/PS2 version, like IGN (7.2 on Wii and 4.5 for PS3 and 360) and GameSpot’s (7 on Wii and 3.5 on PS3 and 360) reviews for instance. As for my thoughts, as said I also have a lookback looking at the Wii version in full for you to check out. 🙂 I personally found the Werehog on Wii actually enjoyable, of course the amount of Werehog levels in a row got tedious, but I liked the variety it gave, and the Wiimote and Nunchuk controls worked just fine for me as long as you time the punches just right. Sales-wise, it apparently did extremely well on Wii, apparently selling more than the PS3 and 360 versions combined.
Sonic and the Black Knight
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: March 3, 2009 (NA) March 12, 2009 (AUS/JP) March 13, 2009 (EU)
So after the big success of Secret Rings, Sega for whatever reason instead of at least attempting to improve on the relatively successful though flawed formula with the auto-running gameplay, they instead change it heavily to make it a vaguely on-rails (you always were stuck on a per-determined path but had “control” of your movement so you wouldn’t automatically run, it was weird). This was conceived and directed by Tetsu Katano, who was mostly a lead programmer throughout the series, and he did consult with Yojiro Ogawa who directed Secret Rings. It’s safe to say this did not sit well with the fanbase since the day of the unveiling in Nintendo Power (so many thought it was a hoax), but it happened and Sonic got a sword and ran through the realm of King Arthur. Oh and there’s a talking sword (who sadly can’t sing Witchcraft). This is also the last major Sonic game to feature the 4kids voice cast (the actual last would be Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing). I find it sad that the game fell on its face, since the game was beautiful and looked well made for what it was, like on a technical level it was solid, it just had a bizarre and not so good game built into it. Some do love it though (hi FTA! 😉 ), but yeah the vast majority did not stomach it very well, though sadly even worse would come in the future… Also I should mention that Jun Senoue returned after four years from Shadow the Hedgehog to compose the game, and even Richard Jacques and a very surprise appearance by Howard Drossin from Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic Spinball also composed some tracks, also a guest composer was Tommy Tallarico, and among other tracks, did a remix of a track he did from another game called Black Dawn in Molten Mine, how about that!
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/Racjin Release Date: October 13, 2009 (NA) October 15, 2009 (AUS) October 16, 2009 (EU) November 5, 2009 (JP)
The 2nd Olympic game is actually very special, in that this was actually more or less developed by Sonic Team USA, just generally credited under Sega Sports R&D, this is because the director of the Wii version was none other than Takashi Iizuka, who directed ALL the games between Sonic Adventure (they were still in Japan for this game, the localization was the first gig at ST USA) and NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. The same art director Kazuyuki Hoshino from the same games also returned for the same role. Jun Senoue also worked on the game (though not as Sound Director, Kenichi Tokoi did that part). This would be Takashi Iizuka’s last role as director before becoming the series producer and becoming head of Sonic Team (likely taking over Yojiro Ogawa who was about to migrate to Yakuza Studio). The game did really well, just not as well as the original. Reception-wise, fans took it a lot better, and even today a lot regard it as the best in the series I find. I’m not surprised, as Iizuka is an outstanding director (Shadow was a rough spot), not so much as a producer in my opinion, so he makes great stuff if he has full control it seems. Yes, I really liked Journey of Dreams. 😛 (hmm, might even make a lookback now that I think about it…).
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Developer: Sumo Digital Release Date: February 23, 2010 (NA) February 26, 2010 (EU) March 4, 2010 (AUS)
So to follow up on Tennis, Sumo put their experience with Sega racers like Out Run 2 to make a new Sonic racing game. In the Wii version you can also play as your Mii characters. Yet in the 360 version, not only can you play as your Avatar, but also as… Banjo-Kazooie?! Man, this could’ve happened on Wii had certain things not happened in 2002. Funny as a key person from the team went on to join Rare afterward. What’s actually amazing, is that Rare is credited in ALL VERSIONS, that’s right, Rare is actually credited in the Wii version, so aside from old assets from Donkey Kong Country and the like in Brawl, this is the first time Rare had been shown in anything on a Nintendo home console since Star Fox Adventures. That’s so surreal. O_o
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: October 11, 2010 (NA) October 12, 2010 (JP) October 15, 2010 (EU/AUS)
Ah yes, the game everyone who grew up with the original Sonic games on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive waited for! And… yeah. People weren’t loving the episodic nature of it, and the physics. Who knew Sonic had the amazing talent to stand on the ceiling and walls? Sonic really CAN do anything! For whatever reason, Sega never attempted to bring over Episode II to Wii (I don’t buy it being impossible in all honesty, and this make it the only Sonic game only on WiiWare as opposed to retail not counting Virtual Console games), and even more bizarre, they never even brought over the Episode Metal content which obviously would’ve worked just fine as it’s just essentially Metal Sonic in Episode I. Also, on WiiWare the game costs a whooping $15/1500 points, it was never on sale to my knowledge. What they should’ve done in my opinion was release the game at Wii retail and added in Episode Metal together for $20, I think it would’ve been a huge seller, but alas, it was not meant to be. As for music, Jun Senoue is back and tried a very… odd kind of style for the game, it wasn’t really like the Genesis/MD games at all, it’s like it was composed by cats or something. He actually brought back a canned beta boss track from Sonic 3D Blast as Boss Theme 1 in the game.
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: November 11, 2010 (AUS) November 12, 2010 (EU) November 16, 2010 (NA) November 18, 2010 (JP)
Now we have the first true AAA Sonic game built exclusively for Nintendo systems from the ground-up, and by the same team behind Secret Rings and Black Knight no less (with Morio Kishimoto, lead game designer of those two games being promoted to director for Colors on Wii). Takashi Iizuka, newly appointed producer and now head of Sonic Team, said this was due to the success of the Olympic games and wanting to make a Sonic game for newcomers to the series. It was the first in the “boost trilogy” to only be about regular Sonic running fast. But seemingly in place of the Werehog they just made so much of the game in 2D, and the 2D sections… were not all that good in my opinion. Personally, I was so hyped for this like you wouldn’t believe, but in the end it was underwhelming to me. However others really loved it and it reviewed wonderfully which is the first since Sonic Heroes I believe on consoles. This game is also the first to not only feature the current Studiopolis voice cast (exception being Mike Pollock returning as Baldy McNosehair), but is also the first Sonic game where the story (or just the English adaptation, I’ve heard conflicting reports) was written by Warren Graff and Ken Pontac, previously both worked on MadWorld and Happy Tree Friends, luckily they didn’t bring the blood and guts with them. This game also introduced the Wisps and their color power abilities, and wouldn’t be the only time we’d see them either. The game ended up doing really well on both systems, shipping 2.18 million copies.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/Racjin Release Date: November 13, 2011 (EU) November 15, 2011 (NA) November 17, 2011 (AUS) December 8, 2011 (JP)
And now we have the 3rd Olympics game, and basically in place of Sonic Generations no less. Takashi Iizuka claims this was due the Wii’s hardware and wanting to make the game squarely for the HD systems. Whether they could’ve worked around the issue is debatable of course (looking at you Unleashed and Colors!). Not much to say specifically about this game, other than for whatever reason, no new characters were added this time around.
And with that, ends the Wii era, and a new generation begins.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Developer: Sumo Digital Release Date: November 18, 2012 (NA) November 30, 2012 (EU) May 15, 2014 (JP)
Here’s not only the first HD Sonic game on a Nintendo console, but it’s also the only Sonic game so far that’s a port/multiplat on Wii U, AND for the first time is a direct port of an HD Sonic game rather than a completely reworked version. This game got terrific reception and did really well on Wii U, even like Unleashed before it, outsold the PS3 and 360 versions combined… on a userbase against 10’s of millions on the other systems. The Wii U version even had exclusive content, such as 5-player multiplayer and exclusive battle arenas, one of which is called Super Monkey Ball Arena, where the GamePad user is controlling AiAi with the 4 other players using the TV. Also for whatever reason, this never got a “Standard Edition” print. I’ve seen it for at least the 360 version, but all Wii U copies are still the Bonus Edition. Eh, not a bad thing, just odd.
Sonic Lost World
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: October 18, 2013 (EU) October 19, 2013 (AUS) October 24, 2013 (JP) October 29, 2013 (NA)
Now we have the first next-gen/8th-gen Sonic game and it’s Wii U exclusive. Morio Kishimoto returns from Colors to direct again, but decided to completely reinvent everything, throwing out the established and popular boost formula, opting instead to make these odd tube and cylinder-shaped levels. Also the game introduced an all-new set of villains called the Deadly Six or Zetis as they’re also called. Warren Graff and Ken Pontac return to write the story, and personally I find it to be their best on the series yet (not like Colors and Generations offered much competition anyway in my opinion). The gameplay to me was really lacking, the parkour was hard to pull-off in 3D and 2D, and frankly, the DLC levels not only featuring NiGHTS, but also, in a huge twist of events, the Zelda and Yoshi series (Fun Fact: The recent Yoshi games Yoshi’s Topsy-Turvy and Yoshi’s Island DS were by Artoon, and Yoshi’s New Island was by Artoon’s successor Arzest, and those companies were formed by ex-Sonic Team veterans including Naoto Ohshima, that’s a funny coincidence), are the best levels in the game. Go figure. And speaking of which, this game started a 3-game exclusivity deal between Nintendo and Sega Also, just like Transformed, this never got a Standard Edition print from what I’ve seen. Not that it’s a bad thing, the NiGHTS level as I said is wonderful (which is also a lovely call-back to Sonic Adventure and Christmas NiGHTS) and the box has a lovely foil effect on the front and back. Actually Sonic Colors on Wii and DS also had a foil cover in NA at least, I only saw it in like one or two stores though.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/Marvelous Release Date: November 8, 2013 (EU) November 9, 2013 (AUS) November 15, 2013 (NA) December 5, 2013 (JP)
And the 4th Olympic title is the second of the 3-game deal. This time Marvelous helped out in the game (funny as Marvelous also helped out with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz on Vita, and Marvelous absorbed Artoon, a team of ex-Sonic Team folks, most of whom are now at Arzest). This is the first HD entry and is also the first to feature actual online multiplayer. But it’s also the first ever game with Sonic in the title to actually be published by Nintendo worldwide, Nintendo only published the earlier games in Japan, Sega took the honors in the west. Bizarrely, no handheld version ever came out for 3DS.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Developer: Big Red Button Release Date: November 11, 2014 (NA) November 21, 2014 (EU) November 29, 2014 (AUS) December 18, 2014 (JP)
And now we have this little “gem”. The 3rd and last of the exclusivity deal, and so far is the last known Sonic game on consoles at the moment (until the next one is announced). This was an “interesting” endeavor to do a fresh take on the series by a company formed by ex-Naughty Dog folks (but certainly not just by them, see here and here) and have a new TV show debut alongside it. Suffice to say… the game was a huge bust. The final product is so full of glitches and unpolished it might even make Sonic ’06 blush, the gameplay wasn’t even fun, and it was UGLY. You may remember I wrote a review on this game, well, it’s gone thanks to the problem we had not long ago, but also, I take back what I said in it, I highly apologize, I was WAY too soft and forgiving of it, so I hope you forgive me for that. It was also amateurish, not the best first review I could’ve made, but hey, learning experiences. 😛 Also, Iizuka claimed the game wasn’t coming out in Japan, then voila, it did, for some reason. The Wii U and 3DS Boom games just now are at only 620k copies shipped worldwide, whether that’s too little overall or too much for such a poorly made game is again debatable.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Developer: Sora Ltd./Bandai Namco Entertainment (and lots of supporting devs, too many to list) Release Date: November 21, 2014 (NA) November 28, 2014 (EU) November 29, 2014 (AUS) December 6, 2014 (JP)
Now let’s wash away that mess and look at the 2nd appearance by Sonic in Super Smash Bros! What’s special is not only is he in the game period, but it also came with something special; Sonic’s very own amiibo Toys-to-Life figure! This would also be Sonic’s debut in native 1080p on consoles I believe!
Release Date: January 22, 2015 (JP) January 29, 2015 (AUS) February 1, 2015 (NA) February 20, 2015 (EU)
Sonic’s amiibo in Smash Bros allows you to fight against or alongside an AI-controlled Sonic and the amiibo fighter can gain stats and new abilities, and you can customize their abilities also. You can use the very same figure in multiple games, but so far only Smash Bros and one other game actual utilize Sonic himself.
Mario Kart 8
Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1 Release Date: May 29, 2014 (JP) May 30, 2014 (NA/EU) May 31, 2014 (AUS)
And that other game right now is Mario Kart 8. While you sadly can’t actually play as Sonic, you do get to unlock a special Mii outfit of Sonic himself.
Release Date: April 23, 2015 (Worldwide)
This marks the first Nintendo game Sonic has shown up in some form since Smash Bros and the Olympic crossovers.
And that’s the end of the console section. On to the handheld games!
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: December 20, 2001 (JP) February 3, 2002 (NA) March 8, 2002 (PAL)
And here’s the first Sonic game ever on a Nintendo handheld, and it came out on the same day as SA2B in Japan. This is also the first Sonic game developed by Dimps in name, as technically Sonic Pocket Adventure for the Neo Geo Pocket Color was still made when the founders were at SNK (when will we get this system and game on the 3DS Virtual Console already Nintendo?!). This is actually the only Nintendo handheld Sonic game to be ported to a retail platform elsewhere, that being on N-Gage as Sonic N, where the screen and resolution forced the sides of the game to be trimmed, or you played it with the original aspect ratio, but way smaller and way more pixelated, can’t imagine that being fan. The game itself was very highly rated, and many consider it to be the closest thing to the real Sonic 4, since they got the physics and everything pretty close to the mark. You can also play in a special Chao Garden called the Tiny Chao Garden, and can link up to SA2B and SADX, and you can obtain special eggs only available on the Game Boy Advance, to transfer them to the GC games.
Sonic Advance (Wii U VC)
Release Date: February 18, 2015 (JP)
This is also the first and so far ONLY modern Sonic game to be on the VC, having released in Japan on the Wii U VC by Sega.While it’s likely coming to EU, there’s a problem for NA, as THQ was the publisher there, and they went belly up, having sold most of their IPs and name to Nordic Games. It’s likely possible as long as Nordic Games sees fit to do it.
Sonic Advance 2
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: December 19, 2002 (JP) March 9, 2003 (NA) March 28, 2003 (PAL)
Now we have the second in the Advance series. This introduced Cream the Rabbit and Cheese the Chao to the world (though if you had Sonic Mega Collection, you saw them first there in the artwork section).
Sonic Pinball Party
Developer: Sonic Team/Jupiter Release Date: June 1, 2003 (NA) June 15, 2004 (JP) October 31, 2003 (EU)
The odd one out of the GBA line-up, being the only one published by Sega worldwide. Why? I have no clue. And one of the only two developed by Sonic Team alone.
Developer: Sonic Team/Jupiter (Character Design Support) Release Date: December 4, 2003 (JP) January 5, 2004 (NA) February 27, 2004 (PAL)
And the other game developed only by Sonic Team is Sonic Battle. This released on the same day as Sonic Heroes on GC in NA. And frankly this game kicked ass. The combat and fighting style was a breeze, the move card collecting and customization with the robot Emerl was addictive, and the story was legit good, even bringing back the Master Emerald and Chaos (guess Chaos is baby-sitting the Master Emerald these days, seeing as Knuckles never brings it up anymore), even Gamma returns in this game, now voiced by Jon St. John (Big, Omega) due to the passing of Steve Brodie just after SA2 came out on August 10, 2001, having voice Mr. President in that game also.
Sonic Advance 3
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: June 7, 2004 (NA) June 15, 2004 (EU) June 17, 2004 (JP)
The third and last title in the Sonic Advance series. This attempted to take some ideas from Heroes including the team-based gameplay, as well as the “formations”, though more like classes or types in this case. Instead of three at a time you controlled two characters, with your partner being an assist, kinda like Knuckles Chaotix seemingly. Each character was a Speed, Flying, or Power character. For whatever reason, the Tiny Chao Garden was absent and instead replaced by a Chao hunt as a sort of collectathon addition, though it ain’t exactly going to challenge DK for the amount, so don’t worry about getting five in each level with each character or anything. 😛 This would also be the very last game to feature the original voice cast that began voicing the characters in SA1, including Deem Bristow as Eggman, who sadly passed away on January 15, 2005. Mike Pollock has confirmed numerous times that the recasting was not due to his death, and was already decided before he passed.
Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis
Developer: Sonic Team Release Date: November 14, 2006 (NA)
Likely taking the cake as the WORST Sonic game on this list, maybe even in the whole franchise, it’s horrendously broken and… UGH! It’s also just a singular port of Sonic 1 that has barely anything new (a Jukebox, continuing where you left off, jumping on certain bosses… yay?)! I actually forgot about it (big surprise? :P), the odd thing is, I can’t find any legit info on who did the conversion, credits only show the original folks from Sonic 1, and Sega of America folks. I would think this was a very quick penny budget port by a western team (it seems to be a NA-exclusive)… unless Sega of America did this in their office? I have no clue. 🙁 Now it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t acknowledge that a fan named Stealth actually in his spare time ported the original Genesis game to the GBA to see if it can be done properly. Spoiler: yes it can. This is also the last Sonic game on the GBA, though there was going to be a version of Sonic Riders on it, alas it was not to be.
GBA is done, on to the DS!
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: November 15, 2005 (NA) November 18, 2005 (PAL) November 23, 2005 (JP)
Dimps returns once again to bring us the first Sonic game on a new Nintendo handheld. Instead of trying to push the series to be 3D with the available power, they instead opted to continue the 2D legacy, but this time using 3D character models, but also utilizing the DS’ two screens for twice the viewing height, and the touch screen during the special stages. The music of the game is very unique in that it was actually composed by Jet Set Radio legend Hideki Naganuma. This is also the first game to properly introduce the boost mechanic. This game was actually preceded by a graphically outstanding demo showcasing Sonic at E3 2004. This featured you scribbling on the touch screen super fast to move Sonic forward. This wasn’t exactly much of a game, but seriously Sega never reached this level on the DS, that’s like near Dreamcast quality in my opinion. Maybe the DS was downgraded before release? Doubt it.
Sonic Rush Adventure
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: September 14, 2007 (EU) September 18, 2007 (NA) September 27, 2007 (AUS) October 18, 2007 (JP)
The second of the Rush series, this time the music was composed by Tomoya Ohtani (before he started becoming more or less the main composer of the console games), it brought back Blaze into the picture as expected, but it also introduced three characters we’d never see again; Marine the Raccoon, and the villains Johnny and the main boss Captain Whisker. I swear to god Long John Baldry would’ve been a perfect match to voice Whisker as he not only voiced Robotnik in AoSTH, but also as Captain Gavin Capacitor in ReBoot, literally they look like a merger of the two, freaky. Now before we move on, there’s something extra special about this game that I want to highlight, though this is only so in one region.
Sonic Rush Adventure (Korea)
Release Date: September 17, 2009
What’s so important you may ask? Look at the top right of the box. That’s right, that’s the Nintendo logo, this is the only actual Sonic game (without Mario), in history, that Nintendo ever truly published and put their name on the box as if it was their own. Wow. That’s not something you’d ever thought you’d see in the 90’s, among other things.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS)
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/TOSE Release Date: January 17, 2008 (JP) January 22, 2008 (NA) February 7, 2008 (AUS) February 8, 2008 (EU)
Here’s the first Olympic game on the DS and is the first Nintendo handheld version of a console Sonic game. It had its differences from the Wii version, aside from the touch-focused mini-games, it has five exclusive dream events not in the Wii version; canoeing, boxing, basketball, long jump, and skeet shooting.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Developer: Bioware Release Date: September 25, 2008 (AUS) September 26, 2008 (EU) September 30, 2008 (NA) August 6, 2009 (JP)
Sega finally gave us a Sonic RPG, great! Except they gave it to a western dev, and an odd choice to say the least, personally I always wanted a Sonic JRPG, get Atlus on the job, you own them Sega! Anyway, this game caused a few issues, first, this was responsible for the major lawsuit by Ken Penders to Sega since he claimed that material from the story was stolen from him. Also, the music, oh boy, rumors have it that they had the music all fine and dandy, but it all had to be replaced at the last minute due to copyright disputes, but hey, it gave us this little “gem” am I right? 😉 The game itself didn’t exactly get great reception overall. And with Bioware now being owned by EA, a sequel ain’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (DS)
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/TOSE Release Date: October 13, 2009 (NA) October 15, 2009 (AUS) October 16, 2009 (EU) November 5, 2009 (JP)
The second Olympic game on DS, actually has a surprising fact, did you know that the voice clips used for Omochao and Big the Cat are actually from the original Adventure-era voice actors? They’re surely archive clips, just like Deem Bristow’s clips from SA2’s multiplayer were used in the first two Riders games for Eggman when you play as him (in Zero Gravity, Mike recorded new lines for the gravity abilities, though couldn’t you just use any of the rest of Deem’s dialogue for that?).
Sonic Classic Collection
Developer: The Creative Assembly Release Date: March 2, 2010 (NA) March 12, 2010 (EU) March 11 (AUS)
The last known retail Sonic collection, containing every main Genesis Sonic game (basically all but Blue Sphere). This was actually worked on by a fan named Stephen Dittrich who created a Genesis emulator on the DS, Sega liked it, then took him in and made a full compilation out of it! Sadly the games are not terribly well emulated, a key reason is by default the games are squished to fit the resolution and aspect ratio, so it’s slightly vertically shorter. I guess just cropping the edges wouldn’t have sufficed maybe?
Sonic Colors (DS)
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: November 11, 2010 (AUS) November 12, 2010 (EU) November 16, 2010 (NA) November 18, 2010 (JP)
Here’s the actual last game in the Rush series even if it’s not Sonic Rush by name. And the first handheld version of a mainline modern Sonic game (shocked they never had Dimps make Unleashed for DS and yet had Gameloft make a mobile version). The DS version had two exclusive Wisps, the Red Wisp (Burst) and the Violet Wisp (Void), as well as an exclusive true final boss.
That marks the end of the DS era! Time for the current generation in a new dimension!
Sonic Generations (3DS)
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: November 22, 2011 (NA) November 25, 2011 (EU) November 24, 2011 (AUS) December 1, 2011 (JP)
Sonic’s debut on 3DS, and sadly it’s 90% 2.5D, rather than any real 3D gameplay like the console editions, however, you do get a glimpse of full-3D gameplay during the special stages based on Sonic Heroes, and boy, they look a hell of a lot better than in the original, and the boost actually not only complements it perfectly, but I think Heroes may have been the first to ever use it in its special stages, as sloppy as it was. 😛 Here aside from Green Hill (what else), every other stage is a uniquely chosen level from the classic era through the modern era. Including a singular handheld-based level, Water Palace from Sonic Rush. When Iizuka asked if any Game Gear levels would be in it, he just laughed, wanting to use levels from more recent memory… even though the whole point was celebrating his entire legacy, no? This version wasn’t nearly as well liked as the console versions, and apparently it only had 8 months or so of development.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Developer: Sega Sports R&D/MarvelousAQL Release Date: February 9, 2012 (NA) February 10, 2012 (EU) February 14, 2012 (AUS) March 1, 2012 (JP)
This is the first, and bizarrely, the ONLY Olympic game on 3DS, Sochi 2014 never came to 3DS, no explanation was ever given to my knowledge. The 3DS version has a story mode unlike the Wii version, and 57 Olympic events in single-player and multiplayer.
Sonic Lost World (3DS)
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps Release Date: October 18, 2013 (EU) October 19, 2013 (AUS) October 24, 2013 (JP) October 29, 2013 (NA)
Here, we have the very first ever 3D Sonic game on a handheld! It also has its own exclusive Wisps as well; the Ivory Wisp (Lightning) and Gray Wisp (Quake). The game sadly had a LOT of filler, stages can take like 10 minutes to complete, the game should’ve just been short and sweet instead of trying to fill the game with tedium. Also, from what I’ve seen, the special stages are utterly broken, with gyroscope controls that just are unresponsive even to skilled gamers (HellfireComms demonstrated this all too well, it is not a pretty sight). Hopefully we see a much larger effort some day for a 3D Sonic on the 3DS or its eventual successor.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal
Developer: Sanzaru Games Release Date: November 11, 2014 (NA) November 21, 2014 (EU) November 29, 2014 (AUS) December 18, 2014 (JP)
Finally, it’s here for you, it’s the last game, of the Sonic game crew! Sanzaru, unlike Big Red Button, actually made and released games over the course of their lifespan, most notably Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and for their game… they went 2.5D… *sigh*. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as the Wii game, if anything, it just caused everyone to scream “eh”. It’s more of a Metroidvania take on Sonic, and instead of Amy, Sticks is actually playable and does things, unlike the Wii U version where she’s just a mere NPC you seemingly pass by and chat with once in a blue moon.
That maybe the last original title at the moment, but as an extra, I’ll talk about two important titles for 3DS eShop:
3D Sonic the Hedgehog
Developer: M2 Release Date: May 15, 2013 (JP) December 5, 2013 (NA/EU)
Part of Wave 1 of Sega’s amazing 3D Classics line-up of games for 3DS (including the other classics Space Harrier, Super Hang On, Altered Beast, Ecco the Dolphin, Galaxy Force II (based on the remade PS2 version!), The Revenge of Shinobi, and Streets of Rage 1). This was fully rebuilt to take advantage of the 3D effects of the system. But, did you know that when M2 had an issue adding the Spin Dash in the game, they actually got on the phone with Yuji Naka? They did! While they didn’t add a boatload of new features, they did add a nifty “CRT” effect where the colors blur and “bleed” onto another to simulate the original experience, also this mode uses the 3D to simulate the “round screen” effect also! What’s really special is that on 3DS, the game is perfectly preserved in its original resolution 1:1 of 320×224, so every pixel is shown as it was meant to be!
3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Developer: M2 Release Date: September, 2015 (NA/EU) Unknown (JP)
And now we have the ONLY upcoming game on the list so yeah, there not much we know about it yet! This is part of a surprise Part 2 of Wave 2 which also includes Streets of Rage 2 and Gunstar Heroes, and the earlier Wave 2 games are After Burner II, Fantasy Zone: Opa Opa Bros., Out Run, Fantasy Zone II W (also based on the PS2 remake!), and Thunder Blade.
And with that, comes the end of the road for now. What will we see in the future? I’m still hoping we’ll see Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, since they could do some wonderful things with the setting on Wii U, I’m really looking forward to at least seeing it, if it exists. Hopefully they at least improve it as much as Olympic Winter Games compared to the original game. Also I’m really hoping Sonic is playable in Project X Zone 2, which would be a semi-Nintendo game since it’s developed by Monolith Soft, who of course Nintendo owns and are the creators of Xenoblade. I also hope we see more special uses of Sonic’s amiibo, it feels like there a lot of potential for it, have him show up in more Nintendo games with it or something. Not to mention that hopefully he’ll be a future Mario Kart 8 DLC character. Also fingers crossed for a 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and onward, and hopefully his other games from that era like 3D Sonic CD and maybe even *gasp* 3D Knuckles Chaotix so we can actually play it without buying the original copy and hardware!
Most of all, Nintendo should work more closely with Sega on the franchise, especially after how lackluster the first exclusivity deal went, Nintendo made the mistake of not working with them side-by-side and instead let them do their own thing. Imagine if Nintendo had Sega and Sonic Team put their damnedest into the games like Platinum did with Bayonetta 2, or TT Games with Lego City Undercover? Nintendo worked very closely with them. Even though Yoshi and Zelda levels showed up on Lost World, there’s no indication Nintendo really had anything to do with it, maybe just those levels and that was it. Sonic’s a very special franchise that is right at home on Nintendo systems that’s honestly just a hair from being first-party at this rate, I mean how many franchises these days get to be in Smash and crossover with Mario? Hey Shigeru Miyamoto, you made a Pac-Man game once (Pac-Man Vs. on GC), how about a Sonic game? 😛
It’s funny that Nintendo has also worked very closely with Sonic’s creators, did you know that Hirokazu Yasuhara is (still?) at Nintendo Software Technology? Arzest, formed by Naoto Ohshima, developed Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS, and Prope, Yuji Naka’s company, just finished Ultimate Angler on 3DS Mii Plaza. Nintendo should round them all up and get a Sonic game made by the original founding fathers of the franchise, the last game they all worked on together was Sonic R (but not really in design roles like in the classic games).
If the right cards are played, I think great things can happen between Sonic and Nintendo.
And that’s it! I hope you all enjoyed the article and I want to hear your thoughts about Sonic’s relationship with Nintendo. What games do you like or don’t like, and what do you think the future holds and hope to see in the future? 🙂