He might be hard to catch, but pinning down the best Sonic games of all time is a job that we’re more than qualified for.
Sonic is one of the most famous gaming mascots of all time. Beginning life on Sega home consoles, he and his motley crew now appear on all of the major consoles including many of our favourite and best retro handhelds.
From the Master System to the Nintendo Switch, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and the gang have had some extraordinary adventures. I can’t see a hedgehog without thinking of these guys, and some of the best childhood memories I have of playing with my mates are on these very games below.
But which are the best Sonic games of all time? Which levels and plot lines changed the canon forever? Which characters made the cut, and why is Robotnik so obsessed with his Death Egg?
Find out the answers below (except the Robotnik thing, that’s a story for another day!)
15. Sonic And The Black Knight (2009)
Sonic and the Black Knight gives the fastest hedgehog in the world another epic weapon – the magic sword Caliburn!
If you’re a fan of Sonic and the Secret Rings, then this is the second storybook offering in the wider Sonic series.
Sonic is brought into King Arthur’s world by Merlin’s grand-daughter. His mission – to break a curse on King Arthur that has turned him into the Black Knight.
As well as kicking back Arthur’s new cronies and slashing enemies, Sonic can visit a blacksmith to change his attack style as the game progresses.
This game still looks stunning on the Wii. It’s one of the nerdiest Sonic games going too which instantly makes it one of my favourites.
And if just playing the story mode through wasn’t exciting enough for you, players can try to beat their friends rankings and also trade items over Wi-Fi too!
14. Shadow The Hedgehog (2005)
Shadow the Hedgehog is next in this list of the best Sonic games of all time. The ultimate life form for the ultimate Sonic list; that’s pretty fitting, don’t you think?
This game features Shadow as the main protagonist instead of Sonic. Other characters from the series make cameos and help Shadow along the way, and the usual ring collecting madness returns once again.
In this game; however, Shadow has the ability to use guns and other firepower while searching for answers to his amnesia. He’s on a mission to find out who he is (aren’t we all pal) and must speed, shoot, and bounce his way to victory.
Critics didn’t like this game so much, but it still sold well over 2-million copies. I guess they didn’t like it for the same reason that they didn’t like Knuckles Chaotix; it isn’t a ‘typical’ sonic title.
Sometimes it’s good to mix things up a little guys!
Shadow is an amazing character, and the games E10+ mature rating allows the characters to swear a little and use the type of fantasy violence Shadow would undoubtedly carry out.
It’s a Sonic game for an older audience, and it also requires a little thinking too. The plot resolve elements with multiple missions providing different outcomes returns from Adventure 2 Battle, and as Shadow would TOTALLY kick Sonic’s butt in a fight, he deserves to be in this list just as much as the red-sneakered wonder himself.
13. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (2007)
The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games proved once and for all that Mario and Sonic were on a level playing field… literally!
I’m very proud of that line, I’m not going to lie.
The Olympic Games series brought all of our favourite characters into a Wii-Sports style game with some seriously addictive sports. From the 100m sprint to skeet, and even skateboarding in the newer titles, these games provide multiplayer magic at its finest.
Plus, Vector racing against Yoshi is something we all want to see. Am I right?
Characters from all the games including Luigi, Eggman, Wario, Amy, and of course Mazza and Sonic themselves are available for players to control.
Choose from multiple sporting events from the Olympic Games ranging back to 2008. London 2012 has to be my favourite purely because it was held in London, but the new Tokyo 2020 game for the Switch has some cracking sports to sink your teeth into.
Especially if you’re Vector; dude has a lot of teeth.
12. Sonic & Knuckles (1994)
Sonic & Knuckles takes the 12th spot on this list of the best Sonic games of all time!
This famous game dropped in 1994 as a sequel to the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It’s based on Angel Island, and this time Sonic and Knuckles are on the same side.
Thank goodness for that!
Sonic is still trying to stop ol’ Mustachio-face Robotnik from getting his Death Egg back into the sky, while Knuckles battles with the mighty yet poorly-named ‘EggRobo’.
The cartridge docking pic on the game case might have already given this away, but Sonic & Knuckles can be linked with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 to bring all the characters into the same game.
This ‘lock-on’ system combines elements of each game, creating the original plan of having Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles on the same cart.
Pretty neat, right?
The usual game mechanics apply; rings, minions, emeralds, and zooming. Sonic & Knuckles didn’t sell as many copies as 2 or 3, but it’s one of my favourites because of the replay value and the combining of cartridges to create a Sonic MegaZord.
If only Nintendo had managed to do something similar with the Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie carts!
11. Sonic Unleashed (2008)
Sonic Unleashed takes the 11th spot in this list of the best Sonic games, bringing with it the controversial Werehog feature that some fans weren’t too happy about.
You know me by now; I like it when developers mix things up a little. So what if Sonic turned into a Werehog every now and again? It worked with Link turning into a wolf in Twilight Princess, so I never saw what all the fuss was about.
Eggman has shattered the world with a super laser and released Dark Gaia on the world. Greek mythology fans will undoubtedly know that Gaia is Mother Earth, and she’s pretty annoyed about not being a Titan anymore as it is without Eggman causing trouble.
Dark Gaia transforms Sonic into a Werehog when he comes into contact with it, providing two very different gameplay styles for players to enjoy.
Daytime levels see sonic racing around courses in the manner we know and love, collecting rings, saving the planet; you know the score.
Nighttime levels, however, are based around the slower movements of the Werehog and require gamers to slay hordes of enemies while moving through individual stages.
Honestly, it’s one of the best Sonic games out there and a real gem for the Nintendo Wii!
10. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Of course, we wouldn’t have any of the games in this list without the original Sonic The Hedgehog title.
Come on; you don’t need me to introduce you to this pivotal title. I’m only writing words here because without it the article would look weird!
Racing across loop-the-loops and saving animals from Robotnik for the very first time; can you imagine what that must have felt like on release day?
I was 1, so I didn’t get a chance to plug this in and play the day it came out. Still, I’ve played this and every other Sonic game in this list to death ever since, and they never get old.
Without this first Genesis title and the ensuing versions that dropped on the Master System and Game Gear, we would never have had other Sonic games, movies, lunchboxes; he wouldn’t be a household name at all.
Imagine a world where kid didn’t want to run as fast as Sonic. It doesn’t bear thinking about!
Come to think of it… how fast is Sonic the Hedgehog?
9. Sonic CD (1993)
Everyone who owned a Sega CD knows that Sonic CD was the best title for the weird add-on.
I mean, come on, are you going to play this or Sewer Shark with those annoying FMV clips for fun?
In fact, a lot of fans class this as one of the most inventive and best Sonic games ever made due to the fact that it takes such a turn from the normal run fast from A to B theme.
So what makes it so special?
Well, players have the option to travel to past and future versions of the level they are playing, finding bonus areas and uncovering new zones along the way.
It’ also the first time we meet Amy and Metal Sonic, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how much you love the wider Sonic canon.
Defeating Robotnik and saving the world feels pretty damn good when you’re grooving along to the epic soundtrack in this game too. Everything about it feels special, and not just because we’re all glad a person dressed in a blue hedgehog outfit isn’t jumping up and down on an FMV clip.
8. Sonic Adventure (1998)
Sonic Adventure takes the 8th spot in our list of the best Sonic games of all time!
Not only is this the first EVER 3D sonic adventure, but it’s also one of the best selling titles of all time. With 2.5 million sales under its belt, it was always going to be a solid addition to this compendium.
The first Sonic Adventure game sees Knuckles, Amy, Tails, and Sonic fighting against Eggman and his minions. Raising little Chaos, soaking in the sight of Sonic running towards the camera rather than from side to side; man, this game changed everything.
Of course, the main premise of the game is one you already know and love. Grab golden rings, stop Eggman from ruining everything by stealing Chaos emeralds, and wear holes in those trademark red sneakers.
Sonic has always been a legend, but having the ability to move him in every direction and adding other platforming elements into his games took them to a whole new level. It broadened horizons for our favourite spiny erinaceinae (totally had to look that up) and allowed developers to add more exciting new gameplay features and visuals
Fast speeds and patience don’t often go together, but both come in handy in this game. Keep a level head and Sonic is bound to come out victorious. The levels look fantastic, the graphics are incredible, and this is one of the best Dreamcast games for the system.
Shame it didn’t save the Dreamcast from falling into obscurity , but I guess we can’t have everything in life!
7. Sonic Colors (2010)
Want to visit Dr Eggmans Amusement Park in space? You’ll need Sonic Colours!
Eggman looks as though he’s turned his back on a life of crime, until Sonic discovers that he’s kidnapped a bunch of aliens known as the Wisps and is using their power in another one of his hair-brained schemes.
Along with the Wisps, Sonic must once again show Eggman who is boss.
This game kind of feels a little like Sonic has stepped into Mario Galaxy. It’s fun, fast, and also freeing, giving the player the chance to actually explore what’s going on in the levels rather than just hurtling through them.
The Wisps add cool powers too, allowing him to reach new heights, turn into a laser or dig underground.
Play with friends in co-op mode and find out who is the best at speedy challenges, or go it alone in the story mode and knock some sense into the massive Egghead!
6. Sonic Mania Plus (2018)
Sonic Mania Plus is the first ‘traditional’ Sonic game to be released for a very long time. I say traditional as it’s a brand new 2D adventure that looks just like the good old days.
The main difference is that Eggman takes the role of the antagonist instead of his Uncle Robotnik, and the game has modern elements such as the ability to save progress and 3D bonus levels.
Sonic Mania Plus even has a title screen that pays homage to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and the 60FPS HD retro-style graphics look great on big TV screens too.
No more squinting at the telly and feeling like your eyes are bleeding!
Use Knuckles, Sonic, and Tails to relive classic updated levels, new adventures, and much much more. It has a brilliant multiplayer mode including a co-op for those couch-gaming moments, and the whole thing plays brilliantly.
Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel join the team too, giving players the chance to experience familiar stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, 3, Sonic & Knuckles and the legendary Sonic The Hedgehog CD, all with new characters.
Honestly, this game is a Sonic super fan’s dream come true. It marries new and old with pixel-perfect graphics to entice any gamer. We highly recommend adding this to your collection, and it’s available on all major console formats including PC!
5. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (1994)
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 takes the 5th spot in this list of the best Sonic games of all time!
After the groundbreaking success of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the destruction of the Death Egg, Sonic 3 had some pretty fast shoes to fill. It nailed it, as you might well have expected, adding Knuckles the Echidna into the equation for the first time.
The game takes place on a floating Island, and Sonic and Tails must retrieve Chaos Emeralds from the fallen Death Egg. Knuckles lays traps for Sonic and Tails at every turn; he’s the guardian of the Island and doesn’t want two oddballs wrecking up the joint.
It’s a good job Toejam and Earl didn’t land here then, isn’t it!
Some sources say that this game had music written by Michael Jackson on it. It’s one of those rumours that no one knows whether it’s true or not because apparently he left the project and never received any credit for his work.
Still, it’s a cool thought!
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 brought new features to the mix such as Tails being able to fly and swim underwater, as well as the special stages.
Oh yes; the special stages. Send Sonic or tails up a pinball machine to collect power-ups or run around a 3D stage collecting rings and blue spheres to obtain a Chaos Emerald.
The graphics are classic Sonic and the game is a total triumph. Give it a go; you won’t be disappointed.
4. Sonic Advance 3 (2004)
Sonic Advance 3 remains my favourite portable Sonic adventure of all time. Forget the mobile titles or chucking Sonic 2 into a Nomad, its Sonic Advance 3 all the way for me!
What do I like so much about this game? Well, for starters it’s got all of the main gang in it including Cream the Rabbit and her Chao, Cheese. I’m more of a Knuckles fan myself, but having the option to mix it up is always good.
The story is superb too. Eggman has divided the earth into chunks, and the team must stop him from building empires on each one. That guy is relentless, and with his robot assistant by his side, this time he looks unstoppable.
The graphics look amazing on the GBA, and playing on an SP AGS-101 with the backlit screen makes taking the crew for a spin dash at any time of day possible.
As with other Sonic titles, collecting all the Chaos Emeralds opens up a final secret ending including an extra boss battle. Sonic games require players to keep their eye on the ball when it comes to collecting; it’s not all about breakneck speeds you know!
This is a true Sonic title with attitude and updated visuals that make it a joy to play today in 2021.
3. Sonic Generations (2011)
Sonic Generations takes the bronze medal in today’s article. Never able to catch a break, Sonic and his mates are pulled into a time continuum that sees Sonic and an earlier version of himself from the good-old-days working together.
Two Sonics, twice the speed, one mission to fix time.
Piece of cake, right?
The entire gang from across the years make an appearance in Generations, As part of Sonic’s 20th Anniversary, players can play all the best stages from previous titles too.
Three eras, three stages in each era. It starts from Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991 and ends at Sonic Colours in 2010.
Just like the games of old, there are Act 1 and Act 2 stages for each level. Act 1 feels like the old Sega games with the old Sonic in charge, but Act 2 flips between 2D and 3D and is played using newer Sonic.
Essentially, it’s the ultimate Sonic fest for fans of the blue blur!
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 takes the number 2 spot in both the Sonic Series and our list of the best Sonic games. I know; most of you would have put this at Number 1, but there’s another Sonic the Hedgehog game that holds a special place in my heart that had to take the top spot, so cut me some slack!
Anyway, this title is one of the best games on the planet and one of the best 90s games in our ultimate collection too. If I had a pound for every time I spent all night working through these levels or left the Mega Drive on while I slept, I’d be a rich guy.
Especially as I didn’t have to pay the electric bill!
Enough of the history lesson; let’s talk about the game!
From the iconic lined grass and insanely tall trees of the Green-Hill Zone to the cosmic Death Egg, our super-speedy heroes are on a mission to defeat Robotnik and take back all of the Chaos Emeralds he stole.
Collect rings, save animals, and zoom like your life depends on it!
Miles Prower, aka, Tails, is available as a playable character, and Knuckles arrives via a slot-in cartridge. This game had it all and received a revival thanks to the Sega Mega Drive Mini, one of the best mini consoles!
It’s strange to think that both the Mega Drive and the Genesis are thirty-years-old now. I remember when my next door neighbour first showed me Sonic as a kid… man, that makes me feel old!
1. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (2001)
It might be controversial to place Sonic Adventure 2 Battle over the legendary Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but I’m a controversial kind of guy. Not only that, but I played this game until the disc was so scratched I had to buy a new copy.
Sonic is the fastest dude alive, and seeing him catching air on a snowboard in San Fransisco is the greatest start to any game bar none. Plus, without Adventure 2 Battle, we wouldn’t have Shadow the Hedgehog, the ultimate life form!
The multiplayer mode in this game is perfection. Zoom along courses as Sonic or Shadow, pilot robots as Tails or Eggman, or search for treasure with Knuckles or Rouge.
Saturdays just aren’t the same anymore without this game!
Like Sonic Adventure, this game is less about getting from start to finish as fast as possible. It’s a 3D platformer with puzzles to solve and collectibles to… collect.
And, when you’ve had enough of finding emeralds and rings, the Chao Garden is always open. Training these little dudes into superheroes or naughty villains was just as fun as the main game!
Plus, how many games allow players to work through good and evil campaigns? In Adventure 2 Battle, gamers choose between Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Eggman, Rouge, and Shadow. Will you fight to save the world or or work to destroy it?
Whichever route you choose, the final segment requires all the characters to team up. I guess it would have made the Olympic Games series a little awkward if everyone still hated each other!
How Many Sonic Games Are There?
There are 100 Sonic the Hedgehog games including spin-offs, racing games, educational titles, and the popular Olympic Games crossover titles.
100 games; shows what you can do when you move fast, I suppose!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.