Sonic has spin-dashed his way through countless adventures over the last thirty years. But which ones do we think are the pinnacle of the blue blur’s legacy? In this TSS Roundtable, our top writers pull from three decades of platforming excellence to choose a game that either means the most to them, or they feel has made the most impact on the series to date. Or maybe even a little bit of both!
As always, these are the individual opinions of each of our writers – but we want to hear from you! Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Are there any games that you feel are missing or needs more love? That’s where the comments section comes in – speak your mind (don’t be a jerk) and join the conversation with us!
GX: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
I’m a sucker for the trans-media property. I want to play the game and watch the cartoon and read the comics. When Sega went for that, they went for it hard and on every front, but it started not with Sonic 1, but Sonic 2. It was the pack-in for the ever prolific Genesis Mk 2, it introduced faithful companion Tails, who launched alongside two distinct animated series and multiple comics across continents… and it upended the entire level design philosophy coming from Sonic 1.
When I got that Genesis with Sonic 2 included, I was smitten by the vibrant, animated cartoon characters and their densely-designed world. I sought to master the wildly branching paths of Chemical Plant, the relentless badniks of Oil Ocean and Metropolis, and the unyielding precision of the Death Egg gauntlet. All the while, I watched the cartoons, read the comics, collected the toys, and most importantly, let my imagination wander to all the worlds and adventures Sonic and his friends could get up to.
Indigo Rush: Sonic 3 & Knuckles
My favorite Sonic game? That’s… a hard one. When all is said and done, in the past 30 years of being a Sonic fan, I’d have to say that it’s a very, very close tie between Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic Mania… but if I need to break that tie, it’s Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It was such an experience as a kid, and to this day it stands the rigorous test of time as a golden age 2D platformer. I’d even go so far as to say its my favorite video game ever. From its masterful level design, gorgeous aesthetics and an incredibly catchy soundtrack, I can find hardly any fault with the game – Carnival Night barrel aside.
nuckles87: Sonic Triple Trouble
Sonic Triple Trouble was one of the earliest Sonic games I got after I started reading the Archie comics, due in large part to their 48-page adaptation of the game. It was neither my first Sonic game nor my favorite, but when it comes to Sonic games from my formative years, it was easily my most played. And the reason for that was simple: it was the best game on SEGA’s portable Game Gear system.
As someone with ADHD who can have difficulty focusing and sitting still, having a quality Sonic game I could literally play anywhere was a godsend, and portable gaming has been an important part of my gaming habits ever since. Triple Trouble did get usurped when I got a Nomad, and was finally able to play Sonic & Knuckles on the go. Superior gameplay aside, it had the one thing I wanted that Triple Trouble lacked: playable Knuckles, my favorite Sonic character! But that’s a story for another time.
Dreadknux: Sonic Colours
Sonic Colours isn’t the most technically-impressive Sonic the Hedgehog game, I know. It arrived on the Wii, a graphically-inferior console to its competition at the time, and followed the amazing-looking Sonic Unleashed with its Hedgehog Engine and incredible high-speed action. But what Sonic Unleashed did right, Colours picked up the baton and refined to create a more thoughtful, methodical game that was less focused on speed and more about considered platforming.
Ignore the controversial approach to the game’s story, and you’ll find an experience that really did a lot of things to put the Sonic franchise back on the right track – after almost a half-decade of gameplay and design misfires. Eggman returns as the big bad villain. The environments are inspired, colourful, whimsical and full of life. The awkward ultra-realism and humanoid NPCs are rightfully thrown in the bin. Wisps add a legitimately fresh and exciting new way to traverse stages, in a way not seen since the elemental shields in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The soundtrack is pop-infused, head-bopping goodness. And, most importantly of all, Sonic Colours found the FUN that had been missing in the series for so long.
Sonic Generations would follow Sonic Colours and refine the formula established by Sonic Unleashed even further – to nearly the point of perfection, in fact – but Colours deserves a place in the Greatest Hits as an original title that gave the blue blur his groove back.
T-Bird: Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Sonic 3 & Knuckles remains what I consider to be the definitive Sonic the Hedgehog experience, not only because it represents the golden era of 16-bit gaming, but the fact the game is a refinement of everything that makes classic Sonic so great. Whether it be the lush environments, the pleasing physics and mechanics, the memorable music, or even a story without words – it all here in this culmination of distilled platforming perfection and is surely Sonic Team’s magnum opus.
What do you think? Any titles we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below!