With the first wave of Steam Deck units shipping less than a week from now, it’s a good time to look at what Valve has given the confident thumbs up, the shaky sideways thumb, and the sad thumbs down. Steam has introduced a new page to check your library’s compatibility, so if you’ve got one on order (or plan on getting one), go check it out.
And if you’re a Sonic fan looking to use the Deck for high-end portable play… well, there’s still a lot of gaps in what they’ve tested thus far.
UPDATE Feb. 23: In a tweet, Wario64 noted that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 are verified to run on the Steam Deck. Puyo Puyo Tetris (the first one) is marked as “Playable” according to SteamDB due to required internet connection and mouse/keyboard/controller behavior.
It will please a lot of you to hear that Sonic Mania and Sonic Generations have excellent compatibility with the Deck. When Valve verifies a game, it means that the game has full controller support, can display at the Deck’s native resolution, has no compatibility warnings, and can run without issue through Proton, Steam’s chosen compatibility layer to make Windows games run on their custom Linux OS.
Sonic Adventure 2 falls in the “Playable” category, meaning that it works, but won’t necessarily be a seamless experience. In this game’s case, it usually launches with the setup layer on Windows you’d have to mouse through before you get to the game proper, which doesn’t quite hit full controller support. Shouldn’t stop you from playing, but just something to be aware of.
Luckily, no Sonic game has actually fallen into the “Unsupported” category, meaning that Valve knows it’s outright unplayable. Most games are assumed to be fine, but unsupported games tend to have intense cheat-prevention methods, weird middleware, or are just straight-up VR games (the deck has some processing pep, but it’s not that much pep). Surprisingly, Fall Guys fails to make the cut, and thus its Sonic skins remain PC-bound.
Not every Sonic game has been looked at by Valve yet; their stated priorities have been the most played games on Steam. The next best source available is ProtonDB, an online database of games tested on Proton itself by users running it on their Linux machines. The database uses a rating system of Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze based on user responses, and while all major Sonic games run, some do so better than others. I want to emphasize, ProtonDB runs off of user submitted comments, so it’s far from scientific, and shouldn’t be taken as the ultimate word on any given game.
A Platinum rating indicates a game runs perfectly, no major issues, and you’ll be able to do so for Sonic Adventure DX, Team Sonic Racing, and Sonic Forces. It’s worth a mention that Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, Yakuza 0, and both Kiwami games gain a solid Platinum as well.
Gold rated games will run quite well, but might require messing with a few settings, and include Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, and Sonic Lost World.
And finally, Silver rated games are mostly okay, but probably require a bit of setup. We don’t know how well Steam Deck will handle situations like this, but Valve has indicated they will continue to work and improve compatibility over time. Most complaints for Silver rated games deal with audio issues, mild instability, and some command line settings to get it to run right. Quite a few Sonic games fall under this category, including the Sonic CD HD remake, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (the original one), and both episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4.
No Sonic games dip below Silver, but there is one other category worth a mention, and it’s “Native,” meaning there is a native Linux version of the game available on Steam, and the big one here is SEGA Mega Drive and Genesis Classics. There should (probably) be no issue jumping into a game of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Streets of Rage 2, or [looks at list] Ecco Jr. is in this collection? Really? Huh.
Hopefully soon after the first pre-orders ship out, we’ll be able to get firm confirmation on which unverified games work with the Steam Deck and how well, but until then, be sure to check out your own library and the ProtonDB to see what might work for you.