With Sonic the Hedgehog making his big splash on the silver screen today, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the Blue Blur’s most memorable modern appearances in video games.
Starring Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey, and James Marsden, the film made a scarring first impression when that initial trailer dropped last year. Many months and one desperate redesign later the reviews have started to come in, with Sonic the Hedgehog sitting on Metacritic score of 43.
No real surprise there, the live action flick having entertained some critics while being labelled as a dull rush job by others. The same can also be said for a number of Sonic video games Sega has released over the past couple of decades.
Stepping away from the blue mascot’s 90s debut and his subsequent hot streak of side-scrolling classics, we wanted to focus on more recent iterations from 2003’s Sonic Heroes to the present day. Following the Dreamcast’s downfall and Sega’s shift to being a third party publisher, this marked the speedy hero’s first appearance on their former rivals’ home consoles – a new era.
To highlight a few of the more obscure Sonic titles, we’ve bumped a few entries off our list, merging them with others. So, we’ve only included the highest rated Sonic Racing, Advance, Rush, and Olympics games.
Year: 2019 – Metacritic Score: 69
Last year saw the launch of the latest (and best rated) title in this crossover series. Since exiting the hardware business, Sega’s ties with Nintendo have continued to strengthen and the two companies had been looking for a way to bring Sonic and Mario together. The Olympic games make for a fitting choice, pitting familiar characters against one another in friendly sporting competitions.
Tokyo 2020 offers up the series’ most robust selection of events and there’s always been a novelty to watching characters such as Eggman and Waluigi take part. Despite the amount of content on offer, the game didn’t even manage to grab a bronze in our own review due to poor controls, picking up a 5/10.
9. Sonic Heroes
Year: 2003 – Metacritic Score: 69
For many of those who didn’t own a Sega system growing up, Sonic Heroes was their first introduction to the series. It was the first 3D Sonic game designed for non-Sega systems, coming to PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. This vibrant 3D platformer allowed players to blitz through its linear levels while switching between three characters. In terms of pace and gameplay, many compared it to those earliest Sonic games – it turned out to be a big success for Sega too, selling more than 3.4m copies.
8. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Year: 2008 – Metacritic Score: 74
Ok, so this one’s a little wild. A Sonic the Hedgehog roleplaying games in the vein of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, and developed by BioWare. Yes, the same BioWare that brought us Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. This was the team’s first handheld title, developed for the Nintendo DS, and despite the bizarre premise, Chronicles went down well with series fans thanks to a fun battle system and being able to actually fleshing out its cast of characters.
Year: 2010 – Score: 76
Released more than 15 years after Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the Sega Mega Drive, there was plenty of appetite for a new side-scrolling game in the franchise. That said, Sonic 4 arrived during a transitional period in the video game industry. Not only was it a digital exclusive, the game was split into two episodes that launched a year and half apart. Developed by Dimps, it certainly had that nostalgic factor, but ended up with limited appeal beyond Sonic’s old school fanbase.
Year: 2011 – Metacritic Score: 77
Easily one of the best Sonic games from the previous hardware cycle, Generations was deliberately designed as a love letter to Sega’s flagship series. Fusing together two very different styles, it paired modern Sonic buddies up with his former, chubbier “Classic Sonic” self, winding through a series of levels that switch between 2D and 3D gameplay, all inspired by previous entries in the franchise.
5. Sonic Colors
Year: 2010 – Metacritic Score: 79
It took a long time for Sega to find its footing with a truly great Sonic game on modern consoles, Sonic Colors marking somewhat of a turning point. It boasted some of the Nintendo Wii’s best graphics, and combined that with tighter platforming gameplay that felt like an evolution of those original Sonic hits from the early 90s. Team Sonic have often felt the need to lean on a gimmick, and found success with the inclusion of Wisps to help morph the platforming in fun and interesting ways. It sure beats changing into a Werehog.
4. Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed
Year: 2013 – Metacritic Score: 80
When we think of the kart racing genre, there are only a handful of games that can stand up to Nintendo’s world-beating Mario Kart series. One such game is Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, a sequel to Sega’s previous 2010 racing game that was similarly well received. Expanding its cast of characters with more familiar Sega icons, this follow-up also took a gamble of featuring track designs that would seamlessly shift between land, sea, and air sections. Sadly, 2019’s Team Sonic Racing felt like a major step back.
3. Sonic Rush
Year: 2005 – Metacritic Score: 82
We previously mentioned Sega’s relationship with Nintendo following the Dreamcast’s demise and for much of the following decade, many of the best Sonic games could be found on Nintendo systems. Sonic Rush is high up on the list, enshrining that fast paced 2D gameplay fans fondly remember with some worthwhile changes to the formula. One great quirk was how Rush used both of the DS’s dual screens, though it was that classic feel that won over critics.
2. Sonic Advance
Year: 2001 – Metacritic Score: 87
Sonic Advance was the game that really heralded this new era for Sonic and Sega. Created as a celebration of Sonic’s 10th anniversary, this was also the first Sonic game on a Nintendo console, the Game Boy Advance. It went down really well with critics and gamers alike, sporting more modern 2D graphics and some gameplay ideas from Sonic Adventure, but it was the classic Sonic feel that shone through. The main complaints were a lack of polish and a relatively short length, yet it paved the way for a decade of good Sonic games on Nintendo’s handheld consoles.
Year: 2018 – Metacritic Score: 89
Sonic Mania is the only entry in the series to come close to that coveted 90+ Metacritic rating; a genuine, passionate attempt to continue the legacy of those original 2D platformers. The story of its development is fascinating to say the least with Christian Whitehead – a prominent Sonic fangame creator – at the helm. Sonic Mania turned out to be a bonafide blast from the past that deftly balanced incredible platforming and level design with a beautifully classic art style. An enhanced “Plus” version was introduced soon after additional characters and stages.