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Your favorite to least favorite Classic Sonic game


PKGaming

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So since Mania is out on all platforms and I'm sure most of us have played it now, I was wondering, if you were to rate the Classic series, how would you list them from best to...not best. For me, after a lot of thinking and replaying S3&K real quick, I think I have my order. 

Mania > S3&K > Sonic 1 > Sonic 2 > Sonic CD

1. Mania - I feel it has the best level design, the most fun and interesting bosses, best special stages, and overall presentation is excellent.

2. S3&K - It's pretty good, but it does have its fair share or jerkish enemy placement and traps that you can't see coming. The one major thing it does better than Mania is

Spoiler

it's final boss and ending. Mania's doesn't come close to S3&K in epicness when it comes to that. 

3. Sonic 1 - A little too platform heavy and more slow going, but I feel more in control as a result and levels rarely feel unfair. 

4. Sonic 2 - It's got jerkish enemy placement and traps galore. Along with awful special stages, it makes Super Sonic runs a nightmare to playthrough. This guy pretty much explains exactly how I feel.

5. Sonic CD - I just don't like the level design at all... And the Past/Future mechanic is so annoying, I never even bother.

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1. Sonic 2 - Easily my favorite, soundtrack wise as well as level design wise. I could just be biased since I grew up with this game and know it pretty well, but I'd say that doesn't take away from it being one of my top 10 games ever honestly. I do agree with the special stages though, they really suck... Or maybe I just really suck at them.

2. Sonic 3&K-  Not a big fan of stages such as Carnival night which brings it down a bit but overall it's the core game I love with more stuff added. Love the elemental shields as well as the insta-shield and of course good ol' Knuckles. 

3. Sonic 1 - Also grew up with this game and have completed it god knows how many times. I love the majority of it but after all this time I still struggle with the Labyrinth zone boss, but it isn't too big of a deal really, I don't mind the rest of Labyrinth zone unlike a lot of people. The game is very slow in some areas but it really doesn't bother me too much. No invincibility after touching spikes is just brutal though and coming back to this game after taking abilities such as the spin dash for granted in later games is just cumbersome. 

4. Sonic CD - I think this is a solid sonic game, the past/future mechanic is interesting and I honestly really like it. 2nd boss fight was an absolute pain and made me hate bumpers and the pinball mechanic for a while. The soundtrack is an absolute beast though.

--Mania- I've not actually played it yet! I'm a bit hesitant on buying at the moment with the addition of DRM for the PC port but I will hopefully have my hands on it soon.

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  1. Sonic Mania
  2. Sonic 2
  3. (tie) Sonic 3
  4. (tie) Sonic & Knuckles, aka, Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Knuckles in Sonic 2
  5. Sonic 1
  6. Sonic CD

I think Mania is the best by a fair margin. Best music, bosses, special stages, level progression. It has complete mastery over what made the Genesis games so good, with plenty of additional creativity on top of that. The only downsides are the story kind of gives up halfway through which is a shame because it started so well, and that more than half of the Zones are remixes, even though they are all basically new for the most part. But it seems to me if SEGA gets Whitehead & Taxman & the team back together and just says "do whatever you want, turn it in when you're ready, you've earned it" — I think that game could reach heights the series never has before. 

Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles are basically tied, though I give the edge to Sonic 2 for a few reasons. Although S3K has better special stages, story, and Knuckles is a better character than Tails, the game is too bloated in its "true form" and too short in the individual games. Sonic 3 & Knuckles may have been initially conceived and developed as one full game, but the final result is you do actually have two separate games clumsily mashed together. It's like saying "Kill Bill" is one movie — it's not, it was supposed to be, but it's two, and if you watch them back-to-back it doesn't quite work and it's way too long. 

The levels don't flow together as "one game" either. Part 1 clearly ends with Launch Base, and Part 2 picks up with Mushroom Hill. It certainly feels like you're doing two games in one marathon session. For gods sake, you have to collect 14 emeralds to reach the final boss. FOURTEEN!! That is way too many! Special stages are never the best part of any Sonic game, and I don't want to do that many special stages. 

Also, "Sonic 3 & Knuckles" is a stupid name. Obviously that would not have been the name if the developers had their druthers, it would have simply been Sonic 3, but that's exactly it — the developers did not get their way. SEGA forced them to hit crazy deadlines because Sonic needed to be a AAA game at the time, and so for the sake of commerce, artistic compromises were made. But that's the world in which these games were made. I think fans often overvalue 3&K and have revised it to be a grand epic saga because that's the closest we have to the developers' original vision, and thinking of it as a saga helps forgive that 13 gigantic zones and 1 final boss is bloated for the type of game Sonic is. 

In an alternate dimension, I think the "Sonic 3 as it should have been" (kind of like "if The White Album had been one record") would go like this:

Sonic & Tails:

  1. Angel Island
  2. Hydrocity
  3. Flying Battery
  4. Ice Cap
  5. Launch Base
  6. Lava Reef
  7. Hidden Palace
  8. Sky Sanctuary
  9. Death Egg
  10. Doomsday

Knuckles levels (unlocked after beating Sonic's story)

  1. Mushroom Hill
  2. Marble Garden
  3. Carnival Night (built on the destroyed Launch Base)
  4. Sandopolis (remnants of Death Egg in background)
  5. Lava Reef
  6. Hidden Palace
  7. Sky Sanctuary

9 big Zones for Sonic & Tails with an epic final boss for Super Sonic. 7 big zones for Knuckles, of which 4 are completely unique to him. You could perhaps revise Doomsday and move it to only be available after you've beaten both Sonic & Knuckles play-throughs, and as long as you collected all 7 emeralds in either play-through. (If Knuckles has all 7 but Sonic doesn't, I suppose he gives them to Sonic since they're allies now, a way of apologizing for taking them at the beginning on Angel Island. As for how Doomsday could make sense in this spot, Sonic destroys the Death Egg in his story and returns the Master Emerald to Knuckles. Happy ending. Then at the end of Knuckles' defeating Mecha Sonic atop the Master Emerald, Sonic & Tails fly past on their plane — chasing Eggman in his Doomsday ship, who has returned to desperately snag the Master Emerald. Super Sonic pursues.)

Anyway, if that had been the case, Sonic 3 would still hold the top spot, above Mania. But as it is, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3 & Knuckles are not quite as good as Sonic 2, which is more fun to replay and more fun to zip around. Emerald Hill/Chemical Plant/Aquatic Ruin are so fun pretty much every time you play and usually have you wanting to keep going when you see Casino Night is next, whereas Angel Island/Hydrocity/Marble Garden by the end of MG I'm exhausted, and then it's Carnival Night which is both derivative of and inferior to Casino Night, although if you push through it, Ice Cap is great and so is Launch Base. And though Sonic 2's ending is not quite as epic as 3&K, it's still fairly epic, and the ending is cool. It's the best and most complete Sonic game made, before Sonic Mania.

As for Sonic 1 and Sonic CD, I think they're both mostly uneven with some really nice bright spots for each. Ultimately, they're both too slow and clumsy compared to the rest of the series, though CD is much worse than 1 in this regard, with really terrible unintuitive level design and a frustrating time-travel mechanic that's cool in theory but borderline broken in execution with how at odds it is with the rest of the gameplay. With both Sonic CD and Sonic 1, you're seeing the developers trying to figure out what a Sonic game is and what it can be.

Comparing all of these to the current-champion Mania, Taxman & Stealth have the advantage of 20+ years of thinking about the games and practicing their execution with fan games and rebuilds of the originals and that's why they were able to so thoroughly surpass the old games, as well they should. And we're the ones, as players, that get to reap the benefits of their knowledge & talents. Hopefully they make many more.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

S3K

Mania - I think Mania is weaker in several areas when compared to 3K: 

Individually, the new areas are great, but they seem too similar in terms of pacing for my liking. Going from Lava Reef to Metallic Madness to Titan Monarch, for instance, doesn't feel much different in terms of pacing. But when you go from Lava Reef to Sky Sanctuary in S3K, it feels like a breath of fresh air. And then when you go into the Death Egg, you really feel a difference as well. The ending is also much more epic in S3K in my opinion.

I love Blue Sphere, but I don't feel like it works well as a bonus stage, the lampposts are too frequent for a level that has no sonic physics in it and takes a fair amount of time. The gumball machine/casino/magnetic ball stages all use the same physics that the main game does so it doesn't feel jarring to enter these stages frequently, and they also don't take very long unless you're deliberately sitting in the casino for as long as possible, whereas the way the Blue Sphere bonus stages are set up you have to spend minutes at a time in each one or else there's no point.

S3K's story is much better in my opinion.

I enjoyed having two sets of emeralds as well as the Hyper forms.

1 - The special stages are the best, in my opinion. They're a twist on the normal Sonic gameplay as opposed to having a special stage with a completely different physics setup, camera view, etc.

- I dislike the Special Stages, and also the method in which they are entered. You have to have so many rings, but it takes away all your rings after each stage but respawns them on the map. There often aren't 50 rings in between lampposts (Emerald Hill especially) so you have to go back and collect rings that you already picked up.

CD - It's a cool game conceptually, I just haven't gotten into it so far.

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Mania == Sonic 3&K > Sonic 2 > Sonic 1 > Sonic CD

After some hours I feel Mania and Sonic 3&K are pretty much as good. Each one has something better than the other, and while I have the fondest memories of S3K, Mania looks much better. A fair tie.

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Mania - Wins off of pure fun factor. Every level is really well paced and balanced and it also has the best special stages I've ever played. It takes the strengths of each classic game for the ultimate experience.

Sonic 2 - Fast, consistent, arcade-y fun throughout. Lots of great looking and fun levels that are designed simply enough to make speedrunning work well. Suffers from a nasty difficulty spike in the last few levels tho.

Sonic 3&K - Fantastically executed narrative experience, but many of it's levels can tend to be overlong and/or dull, with some questionable obstacle placement.

Sonic CD - Just barely scrapes above S1 for its fantastic presentation and more interesting level design (even if it does tend to be super annoying). It feels like it was made by great artists, but not great game designers, leaving it with lots of nutty, creative things thrown around, for better or for worse.

Sonic 1 - You can tell they're still figuring things out with this one,  leaving to inconsistent level design with blocky, waiting-based zones that aren't that hard or terrible, but aren't a great deal of fun either. 

All of these are great games, it's hard to rank them.

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Some of my earliest memories as a child was blasting through the Classic Sonic games. Everyday after school, I'd scurry home and hook up my game system in eager anticipation for the blue blur. Back then, I remember playing Sonic 2 the most. I loved Tails as a character and I'd always let my little brother be Sonic, so I could fly around and explore. Of course, I lagged behind him constantly as a result.

Regardless of my nostalgia and bias with the second installment of the franchise, I'd say my favorites list would go;

1☆ Sonic CD
2☆ Sonic Mania
3☆ Sonic 2
4☆ S3&K
5☆ Sonic 1

Sonic CD is beyond creative and I always admired how ambitious of a game it was for its time. The animated cutscenes, the colors, the music, the storyline; all of it took Sonic in a different direction and I adored it. I played the game recently and I had as much fun playing it as I did when I was younger. All the zones were unique. The present, past, bad future and good future designs were eye-catching and the soundtrack made it way too fun to play. I love Metal Sonic and Amy. I love the concept of the story. I love how zany and whacky of a personality the game has. The only downside I can think of is that the bosses were a little silly. A bit too easy.

Sonic Mania. I haven't had any hands-on experience with this game, but I watched my brother play it. So please take this with a grain of salt. But if there's one thing this installment has, it's style and character. This game has a stylistic flare to it that sets it apart from other Classic Sonic games. It took many elements from Sonic CD, S3&K, and the games prior. It's a celebration dedicated to the origins of a character that has resonated with millions of people. The animation is crisp, all the bosses have neat quirks to them that make them memorable, the zones are creative, and the music has a familiar Sonic-style to it while also giving itself its own unique identity.

Sonic 2 was a prominent element of my childhood, as I said earlier. However, I'd say that it's definitely in the middle when it comes to quality in the Classic lineup. Its gameplay isn't quite as developed as S3&K. However, it introduced many crucial elements that are considered the norm in Sonic games today. It's the essential blueprint that all future games continued to follow until they leaped into the realm of 3D. The level design in this game is probably the best, though the locations themselves weren't too interesting. They were filled with plenty of intriguing ideas, but none of them really had as much flare as S3&K, CD or Mania.

S3&K was never really my go-to as a kid. It still isn't, I'd choose Sonic CD any day. However, that doesn't mean the game is bad. It's amazing, actually. The improved gameplay elements were a nice change. The locals had beautiful colors and had personalities of their own. I can remember more zones in this game, compared to a lot of other Classic Sonic games. It's very memorable, especially with the soundtrack. After all, Michael Jackson, himself had a hand in making it. The story was wonderful, too. The game as a whole just never really stuck with me.

The game that started it all, Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. I respect this game and I can't thank it enough for all the fun times it gave me as a child. It was a very humble beginning. Especially since the gameplay was lukewarm compared to the rest of the series. Everything was pulled back, not really knowing where they should take the hedgehog next. The game didn't have an identity of its own yet and we needed to wait for future installments to shed some light on Sonic's true potential. It was the starting point and an overall fun game. But compared to all the others? It's hardly a fair fight. I believe it shows how far Sonic has come.

But, to be honest, I love all of these games. They're all amazing in their own way!

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Sonic CD

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Sonic 2

Sonic 1

Sonic Mania

 

CD is the easy favourite with 3&K not far behind. 1 and 2 I love a lot and were a big part of my growing up.

Sonic Mania was slightly above Sonic 2 at first, but honestly I get less out of it every replay with too much familiarity. I'd planned to do a final runthrough for Sonic solo after doing a run with all the others (including Knuckles & Knuckles). But I stopped enjoying it at an earlier point each playthrough and found myself with no enthusiasm for that final run. All the bonus content does make me tempted to put it above Sonic 1 still, but really I'd be much more excited to replay Sonic 1 than Mania which is why I put it to the bottom.

I still really like Mania but too much old, even with the level layouts themselves and some gimmicks being new the aesthetics and some level gimmicks were too familiar for most of the game.

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Oh hey, I have a whole series about this, but that list differs a bit from my personal order:

1. Sonic 3 & Knuckles - About as close to perfect as a platformer gets, in my opinion. I think Flying Battery and Sandopolis are weak points in the game, though over time both have grown on me. Hydrocity, Ice Cap, Launch Base, Lava Reef, and Death Egg remain some of my favorite levels in the entire franchise, the addition of the insta-shield is great, Knuckles provided an all new way to play with his own interesting routes, and it was the first game to tackle a more complex story without it being too intrusive.

2. Sonic Mania - All around really solid, absolutely brimming with personality and charm. The soundtrack is, bar none, my favorite in the series and among my favorite game OSTs. The drop dash is so good I literally forget I don't have it when I go back to the other classics. While I think Mania does a great job remixing old levels, I think the new additions have a lot more staying power and it's unfortunate we didn't get more of that. Technical issues and a mishandled story just hold it back from being above Sonic 3 & Knuckles for me. Mania may have shortcomings, but it's also proof positive for me that a follow up that addresses the few issues I have can absolutely stand to be the best Sonic game.

3. Sonic CD - Yes it's more vertically oriented which is a bit disorienting at first, and yes it's more exploration based which for some people goes against the grain of Sonic level design, but boy do I dig what CD is going for. The time travel mechanic is unavoidable, so while I enjoy interacting with it and exploring the different time periods, I can see why it would suck the enjoyment away for other people. The soundtrack is excellent, and that's true of both iterations. My only real gripe is how short it is, the levels don't take long at all to complete if you're just gunning for the end, and I think Wacky Workbench might be my least favorite Sonic level, period.

4. Sonic 1 - It's a much more slow paced game than its successors, with a lot more deliberate platforming, but I enjoy that. I've heard people complain that actually maneuvering Sonic along platforms and over hazards is the worst part of Sonic games, but I honestly really enjoy it, and Sonic 1 is rife with that kind of stuff. Labyrinth is also my favorite level because I'm sick in the head. Its only shortcomings for me is the fact that the three act structure causes things to drag on a bit, Marble and Scrap Brain aren't very good, and in general it's very apparent they were still trying to figure out what Sonic was going to be.

5. Sonic 2 - The spin dash is great, and like the drop dash I just can't imagine Sonic without it. Chemical Plant is great, I love Mystic Cave, but overall this is the one classic game with the highest ratio of zones I dislike to those I like. Part of this is being so burnt out on Sonic 2, I played it to death as a kid, but part of it is that some of the levels just lack staying power, are antithetical to Sonic's design (Sky Chase), or downright frustrating in how bland and samey they are (Metropolis.) The final boss is some real garbage where you have zero rings but can also sometimes just clip through the boss and die immediately. The special stages run poorly and are about rote memorization, and god help you if you're playing them with Tails, who is basically like strapping yourself with input lag on purpose.

 

Overall series grade: D. Sonic has never been good.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mania (most consistently fun IMO)
> S3&K (also very good, but has some annoying zones like Sandopolis)
> Sonic 2 (fun, but some annoying zones and the Special Stages take it down a notch)
> Sonic 1 (pretty basic, but it led to sequels that improved on it)
> Sonic CD (good art direction, but shit level design)

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  • 1 year later...

I know some of these are not cannon, but they are from the classic era. i'm basing this on my gaming experience.

1. sonic 1 mega drive - this goes without saying :) 

2. sonic 1 game gear - mainly for the first half of the game. I actually prefer the special stage here. I also like the 2 acts per zone structure. the music is just as memorable and beautiful as its 16 bit counterpart. despite the lack of loops and chutes, I find sonic's movement to be faster somehow.. a classic its own right :) 

3. sonic spinball - I like that it's its own thing. the blend of pinball with platforming/adventure is a unique one. I like how the player is left to figure things out for themselves. luckily there's no time limit! I like the layout of everything taking place in one big environment, as opposed to acts this time. that being said, it's dark and crude overall :(the music is unbearable (the options theme 😮 ). most of all the physics ruin the entire experience. a lot of things happen by accident. I find myself stuck doing the same tedious tasks because sonic refuses to go in the direction that I point him towards. it's not a game I can just pick up and play after a long absence. however, there's a certain rhythm to it that once mastered, can feel quite rewarding and addictive :)  I just feel it would have been so much better if the sonic team developed it.

4. sonic 3d flickies island - sonic goes back to his roots in an isometric way! it has a very sweet and innocent tone which I love :) it finally gives purpose to sonic's friends, and emphasises the fact that the badniks are merely shells that need to cracked. this significantly lowers the 'violent' level that might concern some people. it's basically follow the leader in sonic world! i'm still impressed by the graphics - not the opening sequence, but the part that explains the story, and the in game itself. I also appreciate how the spin-dash can be done with one button. unfortunately, there's a serious lack of speed that is unforgivable for a sonic game 😮 the controls make simple tasks like leaping from platforms challenging. it's just not as memorable as it could have been. 

5. sonic 2 - it's bigger and flashier, but it lacks the heart of the original. it's way too easy. most of the time I just feel as though i'm pressing the 'right' button. everything passes by with little impact. there's no sense of accomplishment whenever an act or zone is cleared. it feels empty. 'emerald hill' doesn't come close to matching the detailed, layered, richness of 'green hill'. the only zones that really offer anything new are 'casino night', 'chemical plant', and 'sky chase'. I've never enjoyed the bleak environments of factory type zones, and I only like the music in 'sky chase'.. the music in general is a major step down. it's not catchy at all. the spin-dash breaks momentum and slows the game down. you have to stop in your tracks in order to use it. the 'rolling' technique was much more effective. the main problem is tails. making him a clone in terms of abilities, takes away from the uniqueness of sonic. the addition of other characters being modelled in this fashion, is something that would hurt the series as a whole.. they could at least let him fly. he also makes the special stages impossible. at least the overall tone of the game is nice. unlike..

sonic 3 & knuckles - separately. combined... makes no difference. this is my least favourite game that plagued the franchise going forward. the charm was gone, and instead the intention was on being on being gritty :( sonic looked unrecognisable with his unpleasant redesign. gone were his youthful, friendly features and small frame, and in place was a scowling, thicker, fist clenched, menacing looking *creature* once surreal and magical environments are replaced with standard stereotypical set pieces. clogged sound effects replaced actual melodies of the original soundtrack. tails can now fly/swim, but he can also do everything that sonic can on top of that (not including power ups abilities), further eliminating sonic's purpose in his own game  😮 it took itself too seriously, with death eggs, super forms, master emeralds, etc. it was heading in x-men territory. all of the issues that surfaced on sonic 2 are magnified here. worst of all; knuckles. he's hot headed and likes to fight. his motif was paper thin. how can you get tricked by robotnik, multiple times?! sonic having to fight him was shocking because he wasn't just a robot whose shell needed cracking.. :( he brought such a sinister energy that I refuse to play any game that he's involved in.

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  • 1 month later...

For the least favorite ones; Sonic CD>Sonic 3 and Knuckles>>>Sonic 1>>>>>Sonic 2. 

Sonic 3K is a bloated game with great content but stretches itself out too much. As a explorative platformer, it’s pretty amazing. There is so much detail on the routes you can take it and in some cases, the level almost ends up being an entirely different act. 

But as a speed running series? It doesn’t stack up to its former glory. With the levels being stretched out immensely, this also means you’ll be interacting with the same gimmicks over and over again for 1, 2 or even 3 minutes.

Not to mention that the level design decided to make more of an antithetical formula:Exploration>Platforming>Gimmick>Speed.

It’s speed sections become very isolated within the game, so you end up just watching Sonic go fast instead of interacting with his speed and level design.

 

 

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Favorite: S3K. Best level design, best game overall. This game goes for a perfect balance of platforming, speed and exploration as many have noted. Theres so many more routes to discover and master than you might imagine on your first go round. It is meant to be replayed over and over and to discover new things every time while you improve. Also has the greatest 'feel' of a large scale adventure, taking sonic smoothly from one environment to the next. Definitely an epic for Sonic. Favorite game of all time, the closest to a 10/10 game that the series has had in its history. I hope it can be surpassed one day by a 3D sonic title, by basically "transforming" its ideas that worked well into the foundation of a new 3D concept. 

Sonic 1 - Not the second best Sonic game but I played this game as a preschooler and have a special sort of nostalgia for it. Though the formula was unrefined here I feel that this game did the best job of minding sonic's actual anatomy as a short hedgehog, and thought carefully about gameplay centered around rolling. By sonic adventure 2 the series direction had largely forgotten this important point and so the did the direction in terms of level design as a result, and the series has clearly been worse off for it.

Sonic 2 - Either the second or third best classic sonic game in actuality. Levels were designed with speed focus in mind but enemy placement was kind of cheap in many areas. Middle section of the game relatively weak, while the first 4 levels and the last 2 are among the best in the series.

Sonic Mania - Probably the third best "classic sonic" title. The wide screen format makes the levels easier to handle than the original games. The original levels are actually phenomenally designed, but some of the remixed levels I felt a bit underwhelmed with. In particular the sonic 3 levels were among the weakest in the game in terms of innovation. The replay value here is also not as strong as with sonic 3. There is little reason to actually play as anyone other than sonic because the levels are practically identical except for in a few knuckles siutations. The level transitions and story also aren't as strong. Still a 9/10 game though easily.

Least Favorite: Sonic CD - the irony of this game is that its design is actually better suited to a 3D title than a 2D one. A great 3D sonic title could learn a lot of lessons about how to maximize space in an open environment created for sonic. It did not work as well for 2D because the gameplay did not flow as well with the constant backtracking and verticality....sonic 3 for comparison sake also had lots of verticality but was more focused on the goal as an "A to B" 2D platformer more linear by nature since you're focused on getting to the goal rather than level objectives. The object placement within the levels also was a bit scatterbrained at many points, definitely less focused than sonic 2 or 3. The weakest of the classics in 2D level design, although the JP soundtrack is one of the very best in the series and the art direction was quite literally brilliant, vibrating with an abstract, surreal energy and color in a uniquely sonic-y way that I wish the series would become familiar with again. 

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-Sonic 1 8 bit

  • I grew up with this game and I love it. I think it's a good platformer all things considered. It has some flaws and the collisions aren't perfect, but it's still a wonderful experience to play. It's short and has tons of replay value.

-Sonic 3 alone

  • The best main Classic Sonic game in my opinion, not much else to say. I don't like the Blue Sphere special stages too much though.

-Sonic 3 & Knuckles

  • Technically an expanded version of Sonic 3, though I prefer Sonic 3 alone for a couple of reasons: the confusion between chaos/super emeralds and the doubled amount of Blue Sphere stages required to complete the game; the lenght... it's too long for a Sonic game, it's stressful to complete in one go (usually I complete a Sonic game in about 1 hour and half, this requires more).

-Tails' Sky Patrol

  • Not a traditional Sonic game, though I love this fun little game. There are some unfair parts, but once you learn the levels and do a couple of runs, it becomes addicting. It's shorter than a regular Sonic game (4 zones only), and this increases its replay value.

-Sonic 1

  • Not a favorite of mine at first, but after playing it several times, I started to appreciate it for its simplicity. A nice Sonic game, fun to play occasionally.

-Sonic & Knuckles

  • I don't know why, even if the gameplay is the same as Sonic 3, I still prefer Sonic 3 by far. It's because of the locations and the level design, and some other things.

-Sonic 2 8 bit

  • I consider it to be worse than Sonic 1 8 bit, but still enjoyable. The reason why I placed it here is because I enjoy to play it for the challenge, in fact it's probably the hardest classic Sonic game.

-Sonic Mania

  • Not a big fan of this game... the gameplay is fine but as a "modern" game (I mean, it came out recently without the hardware limitations the original classics had), I expected much more. Even trying to enjoy it as it is, without expectations, I still have some problems with most of the bosses, that I consider annoying and often unfair. The level design also becomes boring pretty fast (with a couple of exceptions, such as Green Hill and the first act of Studiopolis), and the whole setting of the game (teleports, illusions) is way too random for my tastes.

-Sonic CD

  • The level design... it's just... a mess. I played this game and I even got the good ending, both by destroying the Metal Sonic holograms and by collecting all the time stones. Still, the level design has no flow and it's too much annoying. I like the time travel gimmick and all the depth the game has because of it. The Super Peel-Out is an unnecessary move IMO.

-Sonic 2

  • Initially one of my favorites (probably because as a kid I played it with savestates), I replayed it some years ago in an attempt to replay all the classics, and I found myself very frustrated by this game. Annoying level design, cheap traps/hazards, and the worst thing is when you want to complete it 100%. Getting the special stages is very annoying, some checkpoints are hidden in later levels (and this goes against the main function of the checkpoints) and the special stages are very unfair, and completely based on memorization and trial and error (it obviously requires you to replay the game countless times in order to learn). Just no. ........not to mention Tails in the special stages when you play as Sonic & Tails.

-Other 8 bit platformers

  • Some of them are even good, though I'm not much attached to them, because I didn't play them as a kid, and they look a bit generic to me. I prefer by far Sonic 1 and 2 8 bit regardless of gameplay solidity and level design... they are just more memorable to me.

-Sonic 3D Blast

  • I have never been a fan of this one... I found it to be repetitive and the gameplay was meh.

-Knuckles Chaotix

  • I don't know what to say about this one... all the levels feel the same, and the level design is meaningless because you are going to skip it all with the rubberband thing. It's a bad designed game IMO.

-Sonic Blast (8 bit)

  • This game is pure frustration and annoyance; it's boring and doesn't play good enough. The level design is a joke, especially that water zone.

-Sonic Spinball and the other spin-offs

  • I think they are all uninteresting, and Sonic Spinball is bad IMO. I have never played Sonic R but it doesn't look much interesting from what I have seen.
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  • 1 month later...

Sonic 3D Blast. It's super hard to judge when you're going to hit a bandik. And don't even bother trying to emulate it! Unless you're able to connect a controller, you're stuck with keyboard controls. Which suck when trying to use in a top-down 3D platformer. Just don't play it, the environments are unoriginal (Green Grove is just another Green Hill clone) and the bosses aren't interesting. 4/10.

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  • 1 month later...

For me, it's S3&K > S2 > Mania > CD > 1.

Sonic 3 and Knuckles is absolute peak Classic Sonic. So much stuff packed into these two halves of one game! The huge amount of new content from the new amazingly designed zones to Tails and Knuckles, to one of the best kinds of Special Stages compelte with two sets of Emeralds...good gravy this game brought so much to the table! The trademark high-speed classic Sonic gameplay was refined and perfected for this iconic title, a perfect blend of speed, platforming and combat. The zones are an absolute joy to run through again and again, I have an absolute blast whenever I boot this baby up for another round, and the multitude of save slots really help have lots of games around. This game is quite an adventure and one of my favorite Sonic games, if not video games in general!

Sonic 2 took the set formula from Sonic 1 and cranked it up to 11. Wherever the first game had problems, this game fixed and upgraded to make the comparisons night and day. The speed, and platforming are heavily improved from the first game and the level design of the iconic zones are phenomenal and still hold up to this day. The lack of saves are hardly an issue at all considering the game is perfectly paced for a full run if you feel like it. The game never feels too slow or fast, lasting a while but not feeling padded out. This game is also a blast to pick up and play. Definitely an awesome, iconic Classic Sonic experience!

Mania took the series back to its 2D roots, headed by people that really knew what they were doing with the Blue Blur's return to the Classic scene. Sonic Mania is a wonderfully made trip down memory lane with a bunch of new refreshing twists that give the game its own identity in addition to the new content. It's a highly enjoyable game with tons of replayability with all the ways to go through the game.  The additions of Mighty and Ray in the Plus version also really throw the game for a loop and makes it feel like the Sonic 4 we all wanted. The reason why Mania ranks after Sonic 3 and 2 is that I feel that it kind of relies too much on old Zones with new feeling rather than its own new zones which the game really could have used more of. The ones we got were super cool, it's just that I wish it had more of them. Overall, Sonic Mania is an awesome blast to the past that really makes for a great Classic Sonic experience for modern times.

Now for Sonic CD, I haven't really played the original Sega CD version and I've only played the Android version of the game. The game overall feels prety good, certainly getting the speed part of Sonic right with the Super Peelout being introduced to keep on speeding through the zones. The time travel mechanics also add a degree of exploration to the game, giving us plenty to look around for as well as boosting replayability. However, for all its charms, I personally feel that Sonic CD doesn't really live up to the likes of Sonic 2 or 3. The levels are cool and all, but the designs feel a little awkward and hard to navigate at times and while it is a cool twist, the time travel thing mechanic feels a little difficult to manage at times, There are plenty of signs with springs nearby that just seem to force you to travel to the future or past and its kinda hard to really go in the right direction sometimes. Still though, Sonic CD is a pretty decent Classic outing that really puts the pedal to the metal when it comes to speed.

Last and unfortunately least, we have Sonic The Hedgehog. While this game might be lowest on the list of Classic games, it is by no means bad. It's a fun, unique and colorful platformer game that managed to create an iconic style of gameplay that really stood out from the rest and stood the test of time to evolve into a long-running franchise. Call me a speed junkie, but my main problem with Sonic 1 is that...well...it feels too slow. With an emphasis more on navigating platforming sections and making your way throughout trap-infested levels unscathed, this game doesn't always give you room to run at top speed all the time. It doesn't give you an easy way to reach top speed either as the iconic Spin Dash wasn't invented till Sonic 2. With rings and extra lives being scarce compared to the future titles and enemies and deadly traps being much more commonplace, a more conservative playstyle is also a must for this game to proceed through it without getting a game over. These speed bumps overall sour the experience a bit for me, making it a little worse than the other Classic titles. But this is not to say its a bad game, quite the opposite, it's a great standalone platformer game with good level design and gameplay and I definitely appreaciate this game for being the progenitor to the Sonic series overall. It's just that with its own future games to compare it with, Sonic 1's demerits become more noticeable. So while Sonic 1 is indeed a good Classic Sonic, it's somewhat outshined by the other Classic games for me.

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I know this is a pretty old topic, but I hid some posts which were list-only posts, including one made earlier today. Please try to explain your reasoning as to why you like/dislike these games rather than just listing them off. Thanks.

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Favorite to least favorite (but I like 'em all nonetheless!) 

1. Sonic 3 (alone) - Overall, for its age, the best of all. Gameplay feels fluid and fast, good and fitting music and variety between levels was nice.

2. Sonic CD - For me, close second, almost on par with Sonic 3. Not the most fluid level design but such a unique game in so many ways. Best music and atmosphere in the whole series. To me, CD always felt sort of a magical tale. 

3. Sonic 2 - It's a sequel to Sonic 1 and does its job just right, definitely a step up. Introduction of spindash was brillant to me. When S2 came out, I didn't know any better video game music. Sometimes the game is too punishing.

4. Sonic Mania - For a while was my number one, but now that its novelty has faded, it has its real place on my list. Great compilation of what I've liked about the past games but sometimes felt all over the place. Still it's probably the funnest of the classic games. I would love to see Mania style game stand on its own without the redone levels.

5. Sonic 1 - My first ever video game and Sonic game. My past and pretty much my future since I haven't lived a day without thinking Sonic series (seriously!). It will always have a special place in my heart and belongs to my top 5 Sonic games even with its flaws. Even more punishing than Sonic 2.

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I'm a huge fan of the classics.
I respect everything the modern games have done and achieved.
But I keep getting drawn to the classic side of the franchise. I feel there's just too much unexplored.

Here's my list ranked in tiers. As you'll probably notice, I pretty much like most of the classic games. Spinoffs included. 



[ADORE!]

Sonic Mania:
Although I consider it a virtual tie with Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Mania wins for several reasons. More characters, all S3K Blue Spheres are included, better multiplayer, Encore Mode is an absolute blast, the opening animated sequence, and the bosses aren't pushovers. The insane ammount of fan service, etc. 

Sonic 3 & Knuckles: The only part I consider S3K superior to Mania, is level progression and story (which also go hand in hand). These feel pretty forced on Mania, but the transition through the stages are smooth and feel natural. 
Lengthy classic Sonic games are my jam, which is why Mania and S3K are absolute winners.
Sonic 3 > Sonic & Knuckles: The only reason why I prefer Sonic 3, is because there's loads of fun to be had, on the Knuckles routes through debug mode.

Sonic 2: Recently dethroned CD for me, because CD levels are way too short. And there's not much incentive to use Time Posts when I'm on a casual playthrough. There's a lot of speedy fun in Sonic 2, and Sonic CD breaks the pace a lot more. Sonic 2 has multiplayer. And lots of exploration. The stages feel... built right. And Knuckles can be playable through lock-on.

Sonic CD: I do love the Time Travel gimmick. Especially as of 2011 when it doesn't take like 30 seconds to load (yeah, you think Sonic 06 loading times were bad? Try playing Sonic CD back in the 90's on a low end PC). And the UFO bonus stages are fun as heck. The soundtracks are pure ear candy too. The super peel out is a very welcome addition. And Metal Sonic is among my 3 favorite Sonic characters ever.

Sonic Triple Trouble: I can't quite explain how I like STT so much. I love the cast of characters (Fang, Knuckles, and Metal Sonic!) along with Sonic Chaos, it feels like a sequel that should have come for the Genesis. But I love how it also references Tails Adventure a bit, and other Game Gear Sonic games through stage gimmicks. I list it high for no solid reason other than I just love playing it.
 

[Love]
Sonic Chaos
Sonic 1 (8-Bit)
Sonic 1 

Sonic Generations (HD)
Sonic Generations (3DS)

[Cherish]
Sonic the Fighters
Knuckles Chaotix
Sonic 3D Blast
Segasonic Arcade
Tails Adventure

[Like]
Sonic Drift 2
Sonic Drift
Sonic R
Sonic Blast
Sonic 2 (8-Bit)
Sonic Spinball
Wacky Worlds

[Haven't played but looks boring]
Sonic Forces (Classic levels)

[Just... bad...] 
Sonic Spinball (8-Bit)
Sonic Labyrinth
 

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1. Sonic 3 & Knuckles

They're already great games on their own and then they combine together to create one long and epic game. Great diversity with the different types of zones, three playable characters plus Knuckles has some exclusive routes. Has my favorite soundtrack out of the classic games and Knuckles.

2. Sonic Mania

Though I would have preferred more new stages instead of old stages there's plenty changed about the old ones to make them interesting. Plus they made plenty of good choices when it came to the old stages and some of my favorites like Chemical Plant, Hydrocity, and Oil Ocean made it in. And though we only got four new stages I enjoyed all of them, especially Studioplis. It was also great to see Mighty and Ray make a return after like 50 years.

3. Sonic 2

Great sequel to the orginal Sonic title that had way more zones, better graphics, introduced the spin dash, added a second playable character and even a multiplayer mode. I also enjoyed the the soundtrack better then Sonic 1.

4. Sonic 1

My first Sonic game that turned me into a fan of the series at the age of 6. Game was obviously good enough to turn me into a fan and made me want more games but its lower on my list as the sequels were all better in my opinion.

5. Sonic CD

Well all of them but Sonic CD. And I still like the game, it had some great zones I really enjoyed like Stardust Speedway, and Quartz Quadrant. The soundtrack was amazing as well but I hate the level design in this game. Especially when it has the gimmick of time traveling by gaining and maintaining speed in levels that make it a pain in the ass to do. Also the boss fights in Sonic CD were pretty forgettable.

 

Game Gear games I'd say Triple Trouble is my favorite followed by Sonic Chaos and Sonic 1. Sonic 2 and Sonic Blast would be my least favorite of the Game Gears. Not going to go into further details as it's been years since I played the the Game Gear games.

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