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Worst Sonic game of the classic era

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Please note that I'm not just referring to the "main" classic games, but to any Sonic game released before Sonic Adventure. And let's also go ahead and also exclude any edutainment games (Sonic's Schoolhouse, the Pico games, etc.) as well as any of the unusual arcade games like Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car or whatever.

I'm going to post three games that I think are contenders. In all honesty, maybe this will sound weird, but I don't truly dislike any of these games to a major degree - I think they all have their charms and positive points, but they're certainly significantly flawed.

Knuckles Chaotix/Chaotix

Chaotix_title.png

Honestly, this one hurts. I wish I didn't have to put this one on the list. I love the characters in this game, and the aesthetics are out-of-this-world amazing. And yet, the gameplay is flawed enough that it unfortunately earns a place here.

First of all, the physics are oddly a little off-feeling and noticeably different from the rest of the Genesis titles. Not really sure why that's the case since this is technically a Genesis game, but for some reason, it happened. Secondly, the "ring power" gimmick tends to be more of an annoyance than a welcome addition. While it can be fun at times, most of the time it feels like a burden, like it's just there for the sake of having an "interesting" gimmick rather than serving much of a useful purpose. The game can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore to navigate, especially when you're playing certain characters; I would recommend playing Knuckles or Charmy because their gliding and flying abilities respectively make the game a lot more manageable. Though I haven't played with him that much, it seems Charmy's unlimited flying is actually a bit OP.

Lastly, but very significantly, the level design is just really lacking. The levels just don't seem to offer much challenge or exciting gameplay. They seem strangely devoid of major hazards and platforming challenges. Most of the "challenge" of the game is just dealing with annoyances caused by the ring link system and various irritating gimmicks in the levels.

The special stages of this game seem pretty cool, though just like with most special stages, I'm pretty bad at them. However, this game also has bonus stages, theoretically similar to S3&K (though with different gameplay), but in practice, their gameplay is nothing special and they're extremely unhelpful. They drain your rings every second and offer not-very-tempting-at-all prizes, just rings (which matter less in this game since there are no lives), points, and a few gimmicky items with only minor benefits. It makes you wonder what's even the point. It's especially egregious since you have to find hidden giant rings to access them, so you'd think you'd be getting a bit more for that.

Overall, an absolutely top-tier game in terms of aesthetics, but in terms of gameplay, it's sadly pretty poor. Its gameplay does have certain charms and isn't completely without value, but there are too many issues to ignore.

Sonic Blast / G Sonic

G_Sonic_title.png

I strangely have an attachment to this game due to the fact that, for who knows what reason, there was a plug-n-play console with only this game on it and me, my sisters, and our friend played it extensively in our childhood. So I probably like this game more than most people would, actually, but at the end of the day, I can't deny that it's rather mediocre. Unlike Knuckles' Chaotix, there's little chance I'll be able to write paragraph upon paragraph about this game because there just isn't much to say. The only remotely noteworthy thing about this title is that it has some pre-rendered CGI graphics, but that's not much to write home about in this case, especially in the case of Sonic and Knuckles' sprites, which seem strangely way too big for the screen and just don't look very good. In general, I'm not really a fan of this game's aesethics. There are a few good bits, but there's just something about them which is rather tacky. The level design is also pretty bland and doesn't have many engaging, interesting, or challenging sections. The special stages are also among the most simplistic in the series.

Overall, just an underwhelming and somewhat clunky game with some notable aesthetic flaws. I don't know what else to say. I don't hate it, it could be a lot worse, but it's just not very interesting.

Sonic Labyrinth

Sonic_labyrinth_title.png

A rather infamous game, but also a game that I frankly don't really feel equipped to talk about because I've played it very little. I started playing it to gear up for this post, but quickly hit a snag on the first boss, and because I was already tired from playing the previous two games for a while, I don't feel like trying to overcome that yet. From the little I have played of the main gameplay, I honestly don't think it's that bad. It has a certain amount of charm and fun to it. But on the other hand, I can't argue with the criticism most commonly leveled at this game, which is that Sonic is painfully slow when not spin-dashing. Because he is. That much I can attest to.

If anyone else wants to either criticize or defend this game, jump right in, because I'm not really the best-equipped. I'm just including it on this list because of its reputation.

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So, which of these three games would you say is the worst of the classic era, or would you "nominate" another game entirely? Want to argue that one of these games is actually great? Whatever your opinion, have at it!

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The Game.Com version of Sonic Jam. The only interesting things about this mucky, clunky, disgusting blur of gray are the use of prototype Sonic 2 and 3 assets. The very platform it was on doomed it. The music is as bad as Sonic Chronicles, if not worse. The controls handle hideously. Sonic Eraser's terrible, ear-grinding music, and Sonic's Schoolhouse's unintentionally creepy atmosphere also make them strong candidates.

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I think Sonic Labyrinth would have been a much better game if it had been repurposed into a minigolf game not unlike Kirby's Dream Course. A game where you have to move Sonic around by spindashing is a really neat idea. It's a pretty mediocre game overall but not without some merit or interesting ideas imo.

Of all of the classic platformers, G Sonic is the only one I haven't beaten and can't bring myself to. It just looks and feels bad.

 

I'm sure it's still better than Advance 3, though.

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28 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

The Game.Com version of Sonic Jam. The only interesting things about this mucky, clunky, disgusting blur of gray are the use of prototype Sonic 2 and 3 assets. The very platform it was on doomed it.

I forgot about that one. I've never played it, but it looks and sounds hideous. I'm willing to bet it blows all my "picks" out of the water in terms of how terrible it is.

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Sonic Labrynth honestly isn't that bad of a game. It's a weird concept but once you get into the groove of it it isn't too difficult. I've beaten it a few times now. It's not a very good Sonic game but it doesn't even remotely try to sell itself as one. It's competent at what it does even if it what it does isn't all that interesting. 

On the other hand I go back and forth on whether one of the other two games on that list is the worst Sonic game period. Knuckles Chaotix is fresher in my mind since I played it a couple years ago, so right now I'd say that. 

The ring band gimmick seems like a good idea until you put together how little control it gives you over your characters. A secondary companion is a common staple in Sonic games and I guess this is their attempt to make something more out of it, but it sucks. It takes so much control away from you and puts in the hands of the AI. The same AI from Sonic 2 that struggles to just repeat your inputs as is. Now instead of sitting in the back seat and maybe chewing off the seatbelt or something like that you're at the wheel and Vector in charge of the pedals. Lord knows I want them to try and shake things up with the Classic Sonic gimmick but this makes just about every wrong choice about what to rework and what to put emphasis on from previous games. It's such a hard gimmick to make into something sellable that I'm surprised nobody involved suggested just cutting it out and running with the new abilities the chaotix have as the gimmick.

On a very basic game-feel level it's just terrible. I had to put it down halfway through. And I beat Sonic Advance 3 multiple times. 

The out there aesthetics are generally appreciated with these older games but in this one it just added to the overall confusion and nausea I got playing it. The levels are really lacking in any sort of gimmicks or landmarks and don't progress all that logically leading to confusion in regards to how far I've gotten and where I'm going. 

The controls and level design being so bad is enough to tank a Sonic game completely, so it's a shame one of the best soundtracks in the series is attached to this mess. 
 

I'm not sure if the limited soundfont is a result of the 32X hardware but it ends up going a long way in making this game sound like nothing else in the series. 

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1 hour ago, Wraith said:

The levels are really lacking in any sort of gimmicks or landmarks and don't progress all that logically leading to confusion in regards to how far I've gotten and where I'm going. 

Yeah, that was another complaint I have with the game. It can be a bit confusing at times to understand what you're supposed to do and where to go in a level. And as much as I love the aesthetics, I do wish there was a bit more variety and more of a break from the garish colors everywhere. It kind of makes me wish the non-lit-up part of Amazing Arena lasted longer.

It's sad, because I can definitely tell there was effort put into Knuckles' Chaotix, but I don't think most of the effort was put into the most important things, such as getting the basic gameplay right. It's an extremely gimmicky game by nature, which might be OK if the central gimmick was a better one.

2 hours ago, SonicSenpai13 said:

Sonic Fighters. I mean, the idea:Great  Story:Good     Characters:Good     But when Sonic and friends limbs STRETCH just to throw a punch, I looks horrible. Plus there were 8 chaos emeralds. The best factor that came to this game would be the archie comics adaptation.

Gotta be honest, I really like Sonic the Fighters. I love the cartoony stretch-and-squash aesthetics, and it's a fun game to play even if it's certainly not very deep. I personally headcanon that one of the Chaos Emeralds was actually the Master Emerald. It is true that the Archie adaption was possibly the best thing to come out of it.

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2 hours ago, SonicSenpai13 said:

Sonic Fighters. I mean, the idea:Great  Story:Good     Characters:Good     But when Sonic and friends limbs STRETCH just to throw a punch, I looks horrible. Plus there were 8 chaos emeralds. The best factor that came to this game would be the archie comics adaptation.

So...it's only bad due to its aesthetic?

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8 hours ago, SonicSenpai13 said:

Sonic Fighters. I mean, the idea:Great  Story:Good     Characters:Good     But when Sonic and friends limbs STRETCH just to throw a punch, I looks horrible. Plus there were 8 chaos emeralds. The best factor that came to this game would be the archie comics adaptation.

Sonic characters have always been rubber hose by design, dude. Their bodies stretch and squash, that's just what they do.

04.PNG.854e09e29e5449b12ca16ed277931398.PNG03.PNG.99cc020e6f2cf6a9bb25847c6e995726.PNG

 

58MNn.jpg.f8241f678fce996a524c7c2358792b94.jpg

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Probably Labyrinth, but to show my own bias, I really want to nominate Spinball. Never got past the first level, it's frustrating to control Sonic, the aesthetic isn't very appealing. I should probably revisit it but it's a game I have nothing but bad memories of. No idea if the Game Gear version is any better or worse.

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I have to agree with the OP and say Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic Blast, but I trade Labyrinth for Spinball.

Everything about those games has been already said by other users and I can just agree with them. Blue Marine in Sonic Blast is IMO the worst level in all the franchise, both classic and modern.

Labyrinth is not great but I think it's kinda playable, Spinball is definitely worse in my opinion.

EDIT: I didn't play Sonic R, so I don't know about that.

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I think Sonic Blast is worst "proper" Sonic game. Not horrible port like Sonic 1 GBA or that Game.com thing. It just very bland, boring ant it's only unique feature is that it looks ugly.

And worst overall? I could pick on Schoolhouse, Eraser or other dumb spin-spin-off but I think either Spinball GG or Drift 1 (I'm surprised no one mentioned this one yet). They both feel like terrible waste of time, boring games cramped on too weak console. On one hands Spinball has fairly decent counterpart on Genesis, while Drift is so short it's hard to be mad at it.

As for other candidates I never played Knuckles Chaotix, but at least this game has many unique selling points, to it's bad core gameplay. Labyrinth is bad, but not as bad as it's reputation claims. And Sonic R has it's weird charm. I beat the whole game twice just for chuckle.

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I've only gotten past the first level of Sonic Spinball once or twice, and never gotten past the second (though to be fair most of those attempts where when I was pretty young), but it still saddens me a bit to see it mentioned. From what I've experienced of it, it seems like a solid, fun game, it's just a bit too hard for its own good. One of these days I'm going to actually play it through.

I like Sonic R, even though it doesn't really deserve it. I know it's not good, but it's fun to me, which is probably a combination of low standards and nostalgia.

On 3/22/2020 at 10:19 AM, MetalSkulkBane said:

Drift 1 (I'm surprised no one mentioned this one yet)

Yeah, I kind of wondered when someone would mention it (though I've barely played it myself, so I can't really judge its quality personally).

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Glad you agree on the tragedy that is Chaotix, it was one of those games like Sonic CD where its team was more artists than game designers, but CD at least had decent gameplay. Chaotix is at all times either frustrating or super boring. I really wish we could have gotten a game with both the all-out stellar imaginative presentation of CD and Chaotix AND the tight design and gameplay of Sonic 2 and 3. 

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5 hours ago, Natie said:

Glad you agree on the tragedy that is Chaotix, it was one of those games like Sonic CD where its team was more artists than game designers, but CD at least had decent gameplay. Chaotix is at all times either frustrating or super boring. I really wish we could have gotten a game with both the all-out stellar imaginative presentation of CD and Chaotix AND the tight design and gameplay of Sonic 2 and 3. 

Sonic Mania is like, halfway there sometimes, but it's held down by having to use art from the other games so much.

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I have mixed opinions on Sonic R.

On one hand, it's unarguably absolutely dreadful. Controls are horrendous, it's laughably unbalanced and very short. I mean, compare it to CTR.

But then again, I do like running around in it as the different characters.

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I saw Sonic Drift mentioned, but no one mentioned Sonic Drift 2 yet. Sonic Drift is at least short and your effort is rewarded with cute little endings for each character(Eggman probably has the best). I thing it would have been a good time waster for kids during a short car trip back in the day. Sonic Drift 2 on the other hand is much longer leaving me to feel the game gets tedious after a while. To top it off, each character doesn't get individual ending cutscenes anymore and you're reward is a static, black and white picture of all the characters. It's the Game Gear! Couldn't it have at least been in color? Neither are must plays, but I'd personally pick Sonic Drift over Sonic Drift 2 any day.

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