Sonic the Hedgehog has been with us for a long time now – 25 years in fact! 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog, which is a huge milestone for any fictional character, in any piece of media.
Sonic has enjoyed a lengthy success due to his ability to adapt to new technologies and gameplay genres, much like how Mario has over the course of his own lifespan. So GameSpew takes a look at all of the memorable titles Sonic has brought us, and where we’ve been with him over all those years.
Basically, Sonic Shuffle is Mario Party as done by Sonic and his friends. It’s very comparable in terms of quality, and was pretty fun to play on the Dreamcast back in the day. It was yet another chance to see the Sonic franchise in a different light, and wasn’t a bad attempt at all at trying to emulate a competitor’s success.
Sonic’s fast speed makes him ideal for racing games. However, Sega experimented with a few games (and more than once!) in trying to see what the Sonic franchise could do with vehicular racing as opposed to a running racer (as the abysmal Sonic R showed us had the potential to fail miserably…). Whilst I always hoped for another attempt at a Sonic running racer game in the style of something like Mad Dash on the original Xbox, the Sonic Riders series was pretty enjoyable as a different approach to the Sonic franchise.
Sonic is cool, snowboarding is cool; mix them together and you have a marketing department’s wet dream.
8Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic tried his hand at another racing game, this time along with other Sega mascots in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Each coming with their own themed vehicle and powers, both this and its sequel (where the vehicles transformed into air, land, and sea versions of themselves) managed to capture the magic that other comparable games such as Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart managed to capitalise on.
Sonic Colours took a somewhat shaky modernised Sonic formula and managed to solidify it into something actually good. Graphically stunning, it was unfortunately overlooked largely due to the failure of other recent Sonic titles at the time. It’s a shame, considering its gameplay was ultimately perfected to become the modern segments in Sonic Generations.
6Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 was a great step forward for the franchise in 2D, but Sonic & Knuckles allowed players to not only play the story in this expansion but also go back and re-visit Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and 3 and play again as Knuckles. As well as providing a new game, it also provided the means of playing previous games with a new character. Bargain!
Sonic’s first serious foray into the 3D world came in the form of Sonic Adventure. It was sloppy, buggy, rough at the edges, and had terrible B-Movie dialogue, but somehow the entire unpolished mess came together to create something special. Whether it was your love for the characters and the franchise over the years that kept you going until the end or some other reason, there was something about Sonic Adventure kept you playing and coming back for more, despite its hiccups.
With the CD add-on for the Genesis, Sonic obviously had to be the mascot once more to push a new piece of hardware. With a memorable opening scene and some new ideas, some devout fans even go far as to say that Sonic CD is their favourite 2D Sonic game! The time travelling mechanic is what separates this from every other Sonic game in the franchise, and allows you visit both past, present, and good/bad future versions of each stage.
3Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 will be the favourite 2D title for most Sonic fans. Whilst the original Sonic suffered from a few problems like how to build and maintain momentum, Sonic 2 managed to solve these issues as up the ante everywhere else at the same time in terms of graphics, music and stage design. For most people, Sonic 2 is where the perfect 2D Sonic experience lies.
Sonic Generations brought together the 2D Sonic gameplay elements that nostalgic fans remembered and loved, alongside modern Sonic that had come to be. Despite modern Sonic having his ups-and-downs, he eventually found a formula that worked quite well as a sort of 3D rollercoaster with branching paths, which is what ultimately made its way into Sonic Generations. Both being nostalgic and looking to the future, Sonic Generations is the strong modern-day Sonic experience that all fans of all tastes have come to accept and love. This title was sorely needed after modern Sonic’s shaky back catalogue.
1Sonic Adventure 2
Taking the wonky controls of Sonic Adventure and fixing most of the issues players had with it, Sonic Adventure 2 was finally the Sonic Adventure game we deserved. Sonic Adventure was a step into the unknown; how would a 2D side-scrolling Sonic transfer into a 3D game? With that initial blind step taken as a learning curve, Sonic Adventure 2 is where characters, story, and world truly come alive. Sure, it still has its hilarious moments and embarrassing dialogue, but nothing that spoils what was a great 3D Sonic experience. Even now, Sonic Adventure 2 is packed with memorable stages, and a great soundtrack that capture the essence of what the Sonic franchise truly is.