Sonic the Hedgehog has been around for years, originally born as a character to rival Mario he has since gone on to be a friend in the Olympic Games and have quite an expansive history of varying games. Unlike Mario, Sonic has not exactly had an overly great life, as a character he really appeals to different people and certain games work far better than others, in the end Sonic is a character determined by the fans and which ones we like best. It has not been an easy run for Sonic but during his history he has delivered some excellent games that standout as truly memorable and this is what I am talking about in my latest list. Which Sonic games are actually my favorite? Well here we go with my top five Sonic games (just to note this list focuses on Sonic lead games so Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed was not counted).
5. Sonic Heroes
Sonic may have begun his adventures long ago back in the era of 2D games but that does not mean that these were the first games that some of us played. My history with Sonic did not begin until the Playstation 2 era with Sonic Heroes, now I could easily say that this game gets a spot on my list simply because of nostalgia and it beginning my long time love affair with the Sonic franchise and if I am being honest it is true. On the surface Sonic Heroes is a game in need of refinement but even still it is a decent game all the same. One of the biggest things that have always stood out to me was how the difficulty system and general gameplay was handled, each team had a different sort of gameplay and level difficulty attached to them, you wanted an easy experience you chose Amy’s Team Rose, you wanted a challenge you went with Team Dark. On the whole each team operated the same by their abilities but it was more enjoyable by how gameplay was altered, Team Rose offered easier and much shorter levels, Team Dark offered longer length levels with a harder difficulty, Team Sonic offered a middle ground, and Team Chaotic offered more of a mission style to gameplay. The team mechanic was fun and using the individual members abilities made for an enjoyable game overall, by today’s standards Sonic Heroes may not be much but when I played it Sonic Heroes was one of the best games ever.
4. Sonic the Fighters
Who would have ever thought that Sonic would work so well as an arcade fighter? When I stumbled across a Sonic collection for the Playstation 2 a few years back I came across this interesting arcade style game in the form of Sonic the Fighters I was immediately intrigued and later impressed. When you look at games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Street Fighter all brilliant arcade style fighters you would not think it was possible for Sonic to transition to a similar fighter, but it worked. Sonic the Fighters is an incredibly interesting fighter, the game takes many iconic as well as lesser known characters from the Sonic universe (some created for this game I believe) and chucks them into a fighter. This game was a pretty simplistic fighter on the surface, following standard protocol your goal was to use Sonic and friends to win a series of battles which required you to use simple attacks to wipe out your opponents health. The game featured a wide variety of fun special attacks, and was fun to play for hours on end, Sonic does not have to be running to have a fun game and Sonic the Fighters proved it.
3. Sonic Riders Zero Gravity
Sonic and racing have never exactly gone hand in hand, although the hedgehog has dabbled in the genre on multiple occasions most of these were just plain awful and felt forced, like Sega was just trying to expand on the Sonic brand shamelessly. When Sonic Riders first arrived it again seemed shameless with the game not being much fun to play and like Sega again was trying to force Sonic into a genre that he didn’t belong, it was made worse when we saw Sonic riding on a board, he is fast why would he be going around on a board? Was it to make things fair? I don’t know it just didn’t seem right. Yet, when Sonic Riders Zero Gravity raced on in I was amazed by just how great this game was, yes it still seemed strange and not right but the additions made with gravity among other things made the newest game one to remember. Gravity was a clever mechanic for Sega to add as it allowed for quick turns as well as room for further strategy performance wise, you could use it to get ahead of opponents with well-timed usage for speed boosts and in a lot of ways it fixed some of the problems I had with the original Riders. The other thing I always found cool was the gear swaps which made use of rings to power up your vehicle during races, such as for speed boosts as well as a complete vehicle swap, so from board to motorbike in the case of Knuckles. Sonic Riders Zero Gravity is a cool game and another of Sonic’s best adventures, he may not be platforming, but before Sonic and All-Stars Racing he showed he could race. It is also worth noting that the game does have a pretty cool campaign with an interesting story and plot, even if a good portion of the time the people you race felt pointless and forced.
2. Sonic Colors
Sonic reached for the stars although they looked pretty far with Sonic Colors the game that took Sonic away from the Green Hill Zone, away from grassy meadows, away from his standard adventures, and instead dropped him into space. Sonic Colors tasked players with stopping Eggman’s latest plot (which is sadly his usual plot) of building an amusement park, okay that seems pretty harmless, it’s in space so it is not hurting anything on Earth, but wait this is evil, Eggman has captured the aliens known as Wisps from their home planets. Yes, this plot had to be stopped and Sonic Colors plays out a really great game while you do it. Popular belief suggests that Sonic did not have a good transition to 3D, this was false with many great games before this one, but even still Sonic Colors raised the bar and showed just how great Sonic could be. On the whole Sonic Colors may have dropped us into space but it was still standard Sonic fare, we raced through levels at top speed, we battled bosses and overall had a great time, and if this was all I would have been fine with it, the levels offered here were refreshing and constantly fun, but Sega did us one better. Sega added transformative abilities with the wisps each offering varying forms of gameplay to blast through levels and even solve puzzles, many different forms of wisps were available to use across the game in varying levels and each changed things up for the better offering up one of the strongest adventures in the franchise history, as well as perfectly tying into the galactic theme of the particular game.
1. Sonic and the Black Knight
The Wii era was a time of experimentation for the Sonic franchise, Sonic’s first adventure on the system took our beloved hedgehog into the world of the Arabian Nights. This was an okay adventure but I never felt was fully refined, the same could not be said for Sonic’s second major journey though. Sega continued to throw Sonic into potentially fictional history with Sonic and the Black Knight, a game which took Sonic to the medieval ages where he was tasked with defeating King Arthur who had turned evil. On paper this idea sounds really stupid but in action it was quite the opposite, Sonic and the Black Knight becomes one of the most thrilling adventures that Sonic has ever been on and it was a simple matter of adopting new ideas. In Sonic and the Black Knight our hedgehog was not all about speed, this game focused on thrilling action when Sonic took up a sword and ran through levels slicing and dicing enemies that were foolish enough to get in his way. The idea of a speedy character is dull and Black Knight proved this with all the action that was thrown into this little game, it made Sonic relevant and even made him fun to play as which at the time was something I was losing faith in. It was also interesting how the fictional world of King Arthur’s Camelot was also built into each level, from medival towns and cities, to grassy rolling hills and beautiful forests, there was no shortage of things to love.
To this day one of the big things that still stands out though is the incredible boss battles, from a battle with King Arthur across the streets of Avalon, to fighting an identity confused Shadow, Knuckles and Blaze (playing the roles of Lancelot, Gawain, and Percival), these battles featured incredibly fun and strategic sword combat and that was enough to show how worth it Sonic and the Black Knight was.