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My attempt to play all Sonic games


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I love Generations, but I really dislike Classic Sonic in it. Perhaps the engine just couldn't handle the demands, but... why can't I roll?! The spindash is just hilariously overpowered too, which is useful in skipping long automated sections but not useful anywhere else. It's no biggie though, at the end of the day its really just a bonus on top of the incredible boost gameplay. It never gets better than Generations, and I hope the rumored Cyberspace levels in Sonic Rangers can hold a candle to this.

As for Sonic Racing, I can't say I'm too interested in trying it because I have Transformed (even tho I have both on Steam). I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Transformed; it was seriously one of the most positive gaming experiences I've had. TSR definitely downgraded in a lot of ways, but it also was one of the most positive gaming experiences I've had. The team gameplay with friends is just brilliant. SEGA tends to make some damn good racers. Good they can pick up the slack for Mario Kart, because 8 and 8 Deluxe leave me feeling either entirely bored or entirely frustrated.

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Mania

Biggest problem aside from the obvious (nostalgia pandering) is the levels are too long. Feels like you gotta be a master speedrunner to shave the time down even to maybe 3-4 minutes by the end. Also, was any classic fan jumping for euphoric joy when they got to play Oil Ocean Zone again?

Adventure

Often imitated but never duplicated greatness. Sonic's jump height and floatiness is perfect for platforming. Always mixing it up with set pieces and different kinds of levels in both gameplay and aesthetic. Even the other characters don't offend my fragile sensibilities like they do others. Cept Big.

Mean Bean

It's just puyo puyo. mmmeeeeeeeeeehh

Rush

A wild ride even still to this day marred by some padded boss fights and the boost requirement for Chaos Emeralds.

Rush Adventure

Better than Rush wrt boss fights. Progression is an interesting diversion of exploring the map for secrets, but they made the chaos emeralds harder to nab.

Didn't include the ones I haven't played.

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31. SegaSonic the Hedgehog

  • Original platform: Arcade
  • Where to get: Unavailable

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I wasn’t able to play this in the fully intended method: this is an arcade game that uses a trackball. The closest I could get is using an analogue stick to emulate a trackpad. This makes it much easier to move at full speed as you just hold instead of having to constantly roll a ball, but at the same time it’s a lot more difficult to control your speed. I would love to be able to try this out with a proper trackball, but they seem to be more expensive than I thought they would be.

SegaSonic the Hedgehog is an isometric platformer made for coin-operated arcades. This means it’s a short game, where each life costs you money. To account for this, Sonic has a health bar that drops when you get hit, or when you fall down gaps (you instantly respawn with less health), so it’s not as strict as it could be. To get a higher score, you have to collect as many rings as possible, with Dr Robotnik laughing at you if you don’t get enough. Enemies also drop rings, so if you want to get to the end you can avoid most of them, but will get a low score.
In SegaSonic the Hedgehog, Sonic (along with Mighty and Ray if you play with more players) is constantly being chased by traps, giant fireballs, collapsing paths. At the start, these shock Sonic as he’s screaming constantly, but he seems to get used as the game moves on. You have to keep moving constantly. It’s a very fast paced game but even with the emulated stick, it felt very precise to move. If you run into an edge, Sonic stops on the edge for a brief second before falling, giving you a chance to move back onto the path.

The game also looks absolutely beautiful. The blocky design is incredibly detailed, and the levels all have a magnificent look to them. Every moment is a marvel to look at, with some stunning animation to look at as well.

I would love for SegaSonic the Hedgehog to get a re-release, and I feel that Sega could get an analogue stick to work better than emulating a trackball works. It’s something that more people should get a chance to play. I suspect playing with a trackball is better, as you will get the excitement from requiring a lot of physical effort for moving faster, but it’s still a nice game to play in the non-ideal way, and is short and sweet.

32. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

  • Original Platform: PC/360/PS3
  • Version played: 360
  • Where to get, Steam, Xbox Store, PS3 store.

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I was originally going to do Sonic 4 as a single game, but after playing through Episode 1 and Episode 2, it’s evident that they’re completely different games so I’ve decided to give them separate slots. The “Episode” part of this is a complete lie, it seems.

Also a complete lie is the “Sonic the Hedgehog 4” name it has been given. It’s nothing like a sequel to the original games in any way. The best way I can justify the name is that it’s a new take on the Game Gear “Sonic the Hedgehog 4”, aka Sonic Blast, which seems apt due to the more maze-like levels and the “Donkey Kong Country” style graphics, where Sonic’s sprite is based on a 3D model. It kind of looks similar to the Sonic Blast one, too.

The other parts of the game take on different styles. The levels look like they’re 2D textures with some shading added in photoshop to make it “look” 3D. The backgrounds are sometimes layers of 2D, but other times are fully 3D. Dr Robotnic has a cel shaded style and stands out. There’s no consistency to the graphical style at all.

Also like Sonic Blast is how slow it takes Sonic to get moving. Moving from a standstill is so slow it’s agonising. Especially when you’re trying to move Sonic away from an obstacle. There’s something off about the way he moves and jumps as well. It’s not nice to play. Sonic Blast 2 (the name I’ve given this game) also features the homing attack from the 3D games, but unlike some of those, it also kills Sonic’s momentum, so you have to start moving from a standstill again. Even when you have the Power Sneakers, Sonic still feels slow.

The levels are a rehash of previous levels: Green Hill, Casino Night, Labyrinth and Scrap Brain. They have different names in Sonic Blast 2, but they don’t feel different (although Scrap Brain has elements from a Sonic 2 level). There’s three acts for each zone and two of these are all incredibly dull, just retreading old ground. The second act of each stage does try something new.

The second act of Casino Night introduces a cannon mechanic, where you have to aim and fire Sonic. Aiming is very slow and it’s not smooth or fun at all. Labyrinth zone act 2 is dark and Sonic has a torch, lighting other torches (sometimes activating switches) and setting off TNT. With a better level design and physics, this level could actually be really good.

The bosses are mostly the same as the original bosses, with a brief second stage. Even the final boss is just the final boss from Sonic 2, and you have to fight all the previous bosses again to reach it.

Sonic Blast 2 is a poor rehash of Sonic 1 & 2, with bad graphics and wonky physics. It’s a very poor Sonic game.

 

33. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2

  • Original Platform: PC/360/PS3
  • Version played: 360
  • Where to get, Steam, Xbox Store, PS3 store.

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This shouldn’t be called Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, but for different reasons: it’s actually a good game. I’m going to call this one “Sonic & Tails”, as it revolves heavily on using Tails’ abilities to navigate the levels.

The graphics in Sonic & Tails are much more consistent, using 3D models for everything, and the consistent style not only works well, but also looks amazing, with beautiful backgrounds and scenery, and some surprisingly nice lighting effects. Physics also feel much better, with Sonic actually moving at a fun speed and jumping is precise, it never felt like a death was due to the game being at fault.

The levels are technically remixes, but they remix multiple stages together in a way where they feel like new stages instead of re-hashed content. The level gimmicks are also fluid and keep up the flow of the gameplay. There are only four (and a bit) zones, so it’s quite short, but each has three acts and a boss, and each act feels very different. I especially loved the rollercoaster level.

Tails follows you along this time, and seems to have some level of AI as he’ll occasionally grab a few rings for you or navigate platforms. Together, Sonic and Tails have two abilities: flying and a rolling attack. Flying seems to be limited to a certain height of where you start, and can be used for shortcuts or is needed to navigate some sections. Rolling is very fast, and allows for digging through some sections. Both are fun to use, although the game hand-holds them a bit as a screen is in the background showing you which ability to use. It’s a shame there’s no way to turn these off.

The bosses are also all new, with some fun fights (although some do last quite a while). The first boss actually mocks Sonic Blast 2 by setting up a stage from an old boss fight before smashing it up.

If you skipped this because of Episode 1, it’s worth giving it a go. Sonic & Tails is a fun, albeit short, Sonic game.

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Am I correct in saying that you're nearly finished with Unleashed? I recall you saying you were playing it. I just finished today and I'd love to see your view compared to mine.

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4 hours ago, charmsb said:

Am I correct in saying that you're nearly finished with Unleashed? I recall you saying you were playing it. I just finished today and I'd love to see your view compared to mine.

Yup, still need to catch up with write-ups. Unleashed is number 43.

Next up is the fun of mobile games.

34. Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

  • Original Platform: Android/iOS
  • Version Played: Android
  • Where to get: Play Store, iOS store

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Surprisingly, it took SEGA 10 years in between releases of Sonic Olympic games on mobile devices, and this was the first one available on Android devices. While it uses some assets from the Switch game, the structure of the game is completely different.

In Sonic at the Olympic Games, Dr Robotnik has decided to take over Tokyo, agreeing to Sonic’s challenge that if Sonic wins in events, Dr Robotnik will cancel his plans. Dialogue is presented in mobile phone text bubbles, and is cheesy but enjoyable.

The challenges are scattered throughout different areas of Tokyo, with a lovely isometric 2D map serving as a background. You’ll tackle these one at a time, trying to get at least a bronze to progress. You’ll be playing the whole game as Sonic, but once a challenge is completed, you can re-try them as a couple of other unlocked characters (provided you have unlocked them).

Some events have special versions that you will encounter a lot (some are just special versions, like BMX), which involve rings, enemies, springs and powers. This does feel like a Sonic Olympic game rather than just an Olympic game with Sonic in it. A lot of the events are quite fun, and are very short so can be played in quick bursts.

I really enjoyed Speed Climbing, where you have to “throw” Sonic into the direction of the next handhold (avoiding enemies and timing right for moving handholds), as well as Badminton which is surprisingly tactical, letting you use a “slow motion” to get into place for more difficult slots. You automatically move (like Wii sports), but it adds a little something to it. Diving is also a lot of fun, picking the angle of your jump to hit springs, performing additional mid-air jumps and then trying to swipe down as straight as possible.

Not all events are great, shooting is horrible to control, you have to drag to aim and let go to shoot, but it feels way too slow and imprecise, and you pretty much need to get a near-perfect score to get bronze. I also can’t get to grips with fencing, as the controls feel inconsistent. It’s possible to skip a challenge if you can’t complete it, but you have to fail it five times and spend “TP”. TP is gained whenever you complete a challenge, but some challenges require you to spend large amounts of it to wipe your supply. After around 70 challenges, I encountered an extremely difficult shooting challenge and it felt like a good place to stop – although if none of the other Sonic mobile games grab my attention, I may return.

You can boost how much TP you get, these seem to be on-off purchases that give you a permanent upgrade to how much TP you earn. There are no temporary boosts, items, and not time-gates that you can use premium currency to remove, so Sonic at the Olympic Games does not feel greedy. You can also buy additional background music to replace the original music, and I may have bought the pack which includes Can you Feel The Sunshine?

There also a few mini games you will encounter, such as one based on Sonic Jump, a quiz and a crane game, which are nice distractions.

The biggest issue with Sonic at the Olympic Games, however, is that doing anything needs an internet connection. There were a few times where my internet dipped, and I had to wait ages for the loading screen to finish. It makes it a game more to play at home instead of out and about due to that.

I was pleasantly surprised by Sonic at the Olympic Games. It’s a decent mobile game that doesn’t feel like it’s constantly asking for money, which makes it leaps and bounds above most mobile games. In terms of classic video game companies, there’s another whose mobile games are savagely greedy, so in terms of making a respectful mobile game, it seems that Sega does what Nintendon’t.

35. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-Bit)

  • Original Platform: Master System
  • Where to get: Sonic Adventure DX, Sonic Mega Collection Plus, 3DS Virtual Console

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I opted to go for the Master System version of this as people warned me about the amount of blind jumps and obstacles you can’t see coming in the Game Gear version. I’m glad I listened as the Master System version is still really bad at those aspects, so I don’t want to imagine it being even worse.

When Sonic 2 first starts off, it feels great. Sonic is quite nippy and the levels appear to be zoomed out enough to see jumps or obstacles. However, despite his on-screen size, Sonic’s jump is rather large, and the levels are designed around this, so despite initially seeming zoomed out enough, you’ll still have to blindly jump into the screen. Something that the game isn’t afraid to use against you by having an endless gap because you were supposed to turn around and go up instead.

Sonic 2 also features a lot of springs, where you need to launch yourself even higher to jump across gaps you can’t see, and onto tall platforms you can’t see. It’s extremely trial and error. There was even one spot where a moving platform was moving up, and the camera purposefully stops moving so Sonic hits some spikes that only come into view when it’s too late to dodge. Next time, you may try jumping before you get to the spikes, but there are more to the side. It turns out that this is the only spot (that I encountered) where you need to duck. 

The levels have some interesting gimmicks, even if some are a pain to use. You have a hang glider, minecart and pipes. The pipe level is similar to the Sonic Blast one but not quite as frustrating. While it likes to dump Sonic onto spikes, it’s not too difficult to keep collecting lost rings and making it back to the pipes. One odd choice of levels is putting Green Hill Zone near the end, especially as these levels felt quite simple, with no difficult platforming and a huge amount of rings.

Sonic 2 (8-bit) is a fairly poor Sonic game, and not as fun to play as the first 8-bit sonic.

 

36. Sonic Dash

  • Original Platform: Android/iOS
  • Version Played: Android
  • Where to get: Play Store, iOS Store

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An endless runner inspired by the success of Temple Run, Sonic is definitely a good fit for the genre and Dash does a good job of making it a Sonic endless runner and not just Temple Run starring Sonic.

Gameplay is simple: Sonic runs forward, you swipe left and right to move across the three “lanes”, jump to jump over obstacles and spin dash to roll under obstacles or defeat enemies. After a section of “track”, you will hit a spring (which can lead to different locations or boss encounters, and you can pick one of three), bank the rings you have collected and carry on. Each time you get to a spring, the rings you have collected will be times by how many springs you have reached in this run. If you hit an enemy, spikes or bomb, you will lose your rings (and get hit again and you’ll die) but hit a wall of some kind and you’ll instantly fail and your score will be counted up.

That’s how it is in theory, but due to microtransactions and adverts it doesn’t work like that. When you die, you can watch an advert or pay in one of the premium currencies (red rings) to come back to life. In order to create a sense of progression, rings can be spent upgrading characters, making abilities and power-ups last longer. You also gain XP by levelling up or completing missions (simple things like “kill X enemies, collect X rings”). The more XP you have, the higher your score multiplier. You can also buy one-off boosts to move you along faster. 

While it’s nice to have progression, these all make the score utterly pointless. There’s no reason to aim for a high score when you can just grind or pay money to get a better score. It turns a simple but fun idea into a game where you play to get rings, so you can spend rings to be able to get more rings.

One nice thing that you do unlock are new areas, based on different zones.  You can choose to start out in any zone you wish, but springs will take you to the other zones. There’s no difference to the gameplay, but they all do look gorgeous and it’s nice to change the environment up. 

Sonic Dash has fun gameplay, but it’s a score-based game which has a meaningless score. It’s nice enough to play every now and then, but you have little incentive to go further than you did last time.

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About the Sonic 4 episodes... I agree with your opinion about the graphics of ep 1 and other stuff, but overall I enjoyed EP1 way more than EP2. It's uglier, it's more bland, but it also has more flow and it's more fun to replay.

Episode 2 is slower and requires you to constantly stop and use the tag moves with Tails, sometimes mandatory and you just die if you do an error.

Episode 2 is more solid and more consistent than Ep1, but in my opinion it's also way more boring and frustrating. Special stages do reflect this too, EP1's special stages are annoying but EP2 are pure rage, especially the last ones where you literally have to memorize the movements and repeat until you get it right.

The games came out on mobile phones too, and the mobile version is a little different. If you play the mobile version of Episode 1 with motion controls, it's a total pain to play, but you would understand a lot of design choices in the game... the game is clearly designed with that control style in mind.

on a side note, Sonic & Tails already exists, it's the Japanese name of Sonic Chaos

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I think Sonic & Tails 2 is Triple Trouble as well.

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I like your review style.  I remember playing a lot of these games, but these were some of the ones that I felt like commenting on:

 

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal

 

I remember being excited when this came out, as I was intrigued on what the Boom games would be like.  Upon playing this particular game though, I was underwhelmed.  I just felt kind of bored.  I’ve never really fallen in love with any of the handheld Sonic games I have played.

 

Sonic Riders

 

Ah, yes I remember the difficulty.  I ended up giving up on this game and selling it awhile back.  I could say the same for the other Riders games.

 

Sonic Adventure 1

 

The game is not perfect: there’s some bad voice acting, and a couple gameplay styles that didn’t work for me, yet I still love this game.  It has a charm to it that appeals to me.  The Adventure fields may have just been fancy level selects, but I quite liked those fancy level selects.

 

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

 

I have this one on PS3 and quite enjoy it.  I feel like it doesn’t get talked about as much as Transformed does.  I have Transformed too, but I played this version first.

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There are so many Olympic Games titles. 

37. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS)

  • Original Platform: DS
  • Where to get: Second hand

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The handheld counterpart to the first Mario & Sonic Olympic Games on Wii. This is a fairly simple affair, but also much more enjoyable at the same time.

The touch screen is used a lot in this game, running for example is done by rubbing across the screen, tapping to jump. Overall, the controls for the simpler games work quite well (although fencing again just seems like a complete mess, I don’t think they can get fencing right in these games). Some events, however, use the touch screen and d-pad or buttons. For me, these are a massive pain as I’m left handed, but I’m used to the right-handed way of playing games, so I need the stylus in my left hand but also feel like I need to use my left hand to turn via the D-Pad.

For singleplayer, you progress through 15 cups of 4 or 5 events. You can spend a coin on one of the events to double your score, but you only get one coin. This means that even if there are a couple of events that you can’t perform well at (Pole vault and Triple Jump for me), you can make up for it by doubling your score on an event you do well at. I managed to make it through them all without too much hassle.

Compared to the Wii version, the DS version of the original Mario & Sonic was actually quite enjoyable.

38. Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom

  • Original Platform: Android/iOS
  • Where to get: Google Play/iOS Store

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The sequel to Sonic Dash, this removes a bunch of features and replaces them with…not a lot, really. It’s a similar endless runner, this time on really dull looking stages (I think I encountered three types, they’re not interesting enough to spot the differences). It does add rails, which are nice, but it doesn’t change the gameplay a lot. Instead of ending a section with a spring, you choose to pick a course leaning left or right (although these always seemed to be the same option) and can change character or head straight to carry on, missing out on baking your rings.

Rings seem completely meaningless in this game. You can upgrade your character, but it doesn’t take much until you reach the point where you need red rings (the premium currency) to upgrade. On top of this, the only thing that the upgrades do is multiply your score for a certain type of action, but there’s no reason to ever aim for a high score as it’s entirely meaningless.

As you can’t do much with rings, there are no animals to collect, there’s no reason to ever carry on your run after you complete the missions you have (a maximum of two at once). For an endless runner, this seems like a massive flaw as the entire point is supposed to be to see how long you can last. Completing missions (which are things like collecting rings, killing enemies, jumping over things) gets you XP.

As you level up, you will get score multipliers, random packages of rings (or spirits, which are temporary power ups) or you unlock characters. Except that you don’t unlock the character, just the option to buy them with a large amount of premium currency. So on top of everything else, there’s not even anything meaningful to work towards in terms of levelling up, either.

39. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (DS)

  • Original platform: DS
  • Where to get: Second hand

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These Olympic Games are some of the more exhausting games to work through, although I’ve been told that they do get better. While I enjoyed the first DS game more than the Wii version, I did not enjoy the DS version of Winter Games at all.

The big feature of Olympic Winter Games DS is the Adventure Tour. This is an RPG-like adventure where you gather team members, unlock new abilities and find equipment, all with a story.

It sounds nice on paper, but unfortunately is extremely tedious. The dialogue is extremely dry (and as Mario isn’t a very talkative character, they also don’t give Sonic any dialogue, so Toad is the main spokesperson), and the areas you explore are designed so you need to do a lot of backtracking and wandering back and forth. The areas are maze-like, with springs and pipes used to make navigation more difficult. You will also encounter missions you can’t play until you find items in treasure chests. You also have limited hearts (which you can find in objects like jars), but losing them all just means you have to walk back to the event you were trying.

It’s a shame as the events are quite fun, and are actually more varied than the Wii game. For Skiing you have a 2D race (on a course that reminds me of Excitebike), a biathlon version which has a shooting section after each lap, you have a ski jump and a dream ski jump (the latter involves flying through rings), a 3D race where you have to steer through laps and a 2D downhill ramp where you have to avoid obstacles and feels like something from Sonic Rush.

The missions themselves also add rules, or focus on specific parts, such as needing to do a boost start, a shooting game (where thankfully you tap at targets on the touch screen) where you have to hit a particular colour, go for distance in a long jump. If the game had been a list of missions on a menu, it would have been very enjoyable, but the aimless wandering between them takes up far more time than actually playing the game.

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And Some failed games

Failed: Sonic Athletics

 

Available only in Sega’s Tokyo Joypolis, this arcade game looks to be a collection of three events based on Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics, but without Mario & Co. There are eight cabinets in a line, all with a treadmill and a button.

As this is only available in one location (and I’m not sure if it’s still there or if the 2016 and 2020 versions replaced it), along with it being built for unique inputs, it’s not an easy game to preserve – even if someone wanted to do so.

As the 2016 and 2020 arcades are based on the Mario & Sonic series, I won’t be including them here. Athletics is only here due to it’s unique branding.

Failed: Sonic Billiards

Another Sonic Cafe games – a lot of failed games will be from this Japan-only mobile phone service. Footage of this exists from the same source as the other Sonic Cafe games. Sonic Billiards looks to be nothing special, it’s a basic billiards game with a picture of Sonic or Shadow in the corner representing each player. There’s no additional Sonic “flair” such as having Sonic be the cue ball, obstacles like bumpers and springs or power-ups, just regular billiards.

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40. Sonic Cricket

  • Original platform: Java Mobile
  • Where to get: Unavailable.

 

 

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This java mobile game was originally designed for India, celebrating Sonic’s 20th anniversary by combining him with their most popular sport. This mobile game is light on features, but the gameplay is surprisingly in depth.

In Sonic Cricket, you play through single cricket matches (with 5, 10, 15 or 20 overs), picking either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles to be team captain (sadly, Amy is relegated to being a cheerleader). Dr Robotnik acts as umpire. All the other players on the teams are robots, so you’ll be mainly seeing those for most of the game. Based on a coin toss, you’ll start by batting or bowling, then do the other after.

Batting has two options: a simple option where you press a button to hit, or a more complex mode using 8 numbers for different kinds of shots, and moving left to right to position yourself (if you have a left handed batsman, this is also swapped around). Once you’ve launched the ball, you can press 5 to run, cancelling it if you think you need to. 

Bowling isn’t a case of throwing the ball as hard as you can. First you choose to bowl from the left or right, then aim for a spot on the ground. Then a bar will fill up to determine power, and then spin. If you go for full blast, you’ll likely get a “no ball”, as the ball needs to hit the ground before it reaches the batsman, you have to choose your shot carefully. When fielding, you can choose to pass your ball to either wicket to try and get someone out. The team captain also has a power shot for a stronger bowl or hit, but this depends on how long the captain lasts before getting out (or one over for bowling).

The animation in the game is also really nice, with some strange tv-like overlays, and players petitioning to the umpire when they think a player is out (and then Dr Robotnik decides, although he’s actually a fair umpire). It’s a surprisingly nice little touch. I actually enjoyed Sonic Cricket. It’s very bare bones, but it does its job pretty well.

41. Sonic Adventure 2

  • Original Platform: Dreamcast
  • Version Played: Xbox 360
  • Where to get: Steam, Xbox Store, PS3 Store

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There’s a face searching far, so far and wide, There’s a place where you dream you’d never find, Hold on to “what if”! Hold on to “what if”!….the songs in Sonic Adventure 2 are definitely some of Sonic’s best. Sonic Adventure 2 gives you two stories (then some final missions if you complete both) to work through, playing as six different characters.

The Sonic and Shadow missions are the highlights, with some fast paced action and mostly fun platforming. There are some sections where the wonky homing attack or bad camera angle will cause some unfair deaths, but they’re still mostly good fun with some great spectacles. One small thing I really like is how Shadow moves, like he’s skating rather than running. For an “evil copy” of Sonic, they’ve done a good job at making him different enough to not be part of the “Dark Link” kind of trope. They still play the same, but the levels are also different.

Knuckles and Rouge have treasure hunting sections, which I quite enjoyed. TV screens give you hints, while you have a beeping detector (although it’s a bit loud, it’s nothing compared to another sound effect I’ll get into in a bit). You have to climb and glide around each level finding three objects. I wouldn’t want to redo any levels, but for the first playthough they’re decent padding.

The Tails and Dr Robotnik sections are just bad. The shooting mechanics are boring and you have a very loud high pitched beep whenever you aim (which is most of the time). I ended up actually muting my game because it got that annoying. These levels also have some of the worst platforming sections in Sonic Adventure 2, with really bad camera angles.

Sonic Adventure 2 is a mostly great game, even if it does show its age a bit, but the Tails/Robotnik sections pull it down a bit. I think they could have added some alternate ways to play after you first complete it, such as playing through Sonic/Shadow levels only.

42. Sonic’s Edusoft

  • Original Platform: Master System (Unreleased)
  • Where to get: Unavailable

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A game that was in development at British developer Tiertex in 1991. This was in development as an official Sonic game with an agreement between Tiertex, US Gold and Sega. The usage of Sonic was never licensed as it was hoped that Sega would publish the game, but this never happened. This game was still in early development, but the main portions seem to have been completed.

As the name suggests, this is Educational Software starring Sonic. It was designed for the Master System. As the developers didn’t know what sections of Sonic would become series staples, it has no rings (you collect stars instead). You walk around a map screen, which actually looks really nice, like an isometric Green Hill zone, selecting activities to play. These are usually maths or spelling challenges.

In these, you will race against a challenger by answering questions. For the maths ones, it will ask you a maths question and you select the answer from a list of possible answers. If you get it right, Sonic will move one step forward, while if you’re wrong the opponent will do. Half way through the quiz you’ll get a different question where it asks for a multiple of X and it will scroll through some numbers, and you have to hit the right one.

The spelling challenges give you a list of up to 8 letters, you have to work out what word they spell and select them in the right order to spell the word. In the middle of these, there will be a challenge where you have to press A when you see two of the same letter (although it is possible that it will time out before actually showing you a correct answer). The words in the challenges are based on different topics like transport, food, animals and hobbies/sports.

I was quite impressed with the amount of options for setting difficulty, with 7 different levels for question difficulty and speed (although putting both on full makes it virtually impossible for the spelling challenges), and on the highest setting I struggled with a few things. I think it’s a pretty solid educational tool, and I’m quite surprised that it was never rethemed and released as a lot of effort seems to have been put into it.

The “rewards” for progressing are not so good, though, as the game gives you three simple minigames. There’s one with a half-pipe and a balloon which just didn’t work, a trampoline game which is a very basic version of Game & Watch Fire and an auto runner platformer which had obstacles which were difficult to see. I think these were at a very early point of development.

I think Sonic’s Edusoft is quite an interesting bit of Sonic’s history, it’s not a game I would choose to play (outside of a challenge like this), but it seems very well made for an educational game.

 

Failed Games:

 

Sonic Cafe Card Games

 

I’m going to lump all of these in one section to avoid a lot of repetition. A lot of card games were released via the Sonic Cafe service, all of which are a single card game using artwork from the Sonic Advance series. The most interesting of note are Amy’s American Page One as it features female characters (Amy, Rogue, Cream and a Hero Chao because they somehow couldn’t think of a fourth, or just didn’t have the assets to re-use) and Sonic’s Napoleon, because of the hat in the artwork.

Other card/board games include: Sonic Hearts (which has a DX version), Sonic Backgammon, Sonic Reversi (and Hyper Reversi), Sonic Speed DX, Sonic’s Millionaires, Sonic’s 7 Narabe and Sonic Casino Poker.

 

Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

 

A mobile olympic game exclusive to iOS, this was delisted from the App Store and is unavailable to purchase. It looks to be a very limited version of the Wii Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games, with four events, and it looks like it didn’t control very well with just the touch screen either, going from videos.

There are ways to play this game via unofficial backups, but it requires expensive hardware that I don't have.

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I imagine that'll happen if there's a story mode in that game. Been giving us a pretty good rundown of every game so far, yeah?

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Hey, I remember that Sonic at Winter Olympic Games. I used to have on my iPod Touch around 2014. It was probably an ipa copy, tho. It did give me lots of fun at school, despite even watching the gameplay, I couldn't recall much of the game tbh. I probably played more of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.

To be fair, lots of those old iOS games I used to recall being so good because they were just so fun to play literally everywhere. As trash as they could be, it was Sonic and I was happy. That's why I have so many found memories of Sonic & SEGA, Winter Olympic Games and Sonic 4 Ep. I

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21 hours ago, Indigo Rush said:

I imagine that'll happen if there's a story mode in that game. Been giving us a pretty good rundown of every game so far, yeah?

Yeah. For the ones that have a story mode, that will be my main focus. For the "failed" games, I don't know much more than the video or the information on the wiki. 

43. Sonic Unleashed

  • Original Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
  • Version Played Xbox 360
  • Where to get: Xbox Store, PS3 store

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After almost defeating Dr Robotnik but falling into a trap, energy is drained from Sonic to power a weapon that splits apart the planet and releases Dark Gaia. Sonic turns into a “werehog” and is sent tumbling down to the planet where he stumbles upon Chip, his new companion who has lost his memory.

In Sonic Unleashed, the stages take place in fictional locations that are inspired by real-life ones, and they all look stunning with wonderful music that mixes Sonic music with a style that matches the region the level is based on. There’s a lot of background detail, too, with lots of buildings – the European city inspired Spagonia had what looks like thousands of houses in the background as you ascend and drop down from a large clock tower.

Unleashed is split into day and night stages. In day, you play as Sonic, while night stages have you playing as his Werehog form (thankfully, the game never uses the Werehog term). The day stages are immensely fun, utilising the boost like Sonic Rush, but in this it’s gained from collecting rings. Another major change is that the homing attack now has a reticule (first doen in Sonic and the Secret Rings), which is a big improvement as you know you’re going to hit an enemy instead of flying to death because you weren’t targeting what you thought you were targeting.

The main stages are incredibly good fun, using a mixture of 3D parts with twist and turns, ones where you run straight and use the shoulder buttons to sidestep, 2D platforming sections that can be fast paced or more focused on precise platforming. It keeps the longer levels Unleashed has feel like they’re comprised of interesting segments. There are also some additional smaller levels which focus on singular mechanics and can be very difficult.

My main issue with the day stages are the quick time events. Quite often you’ll hit a big ramp and have to hit a series of buttons to reach the higher route. They seem to be there because everyone was doing QTEs back when this came out. Still, it’s just a minor flaw.

In the night stages, you play a God of War-like fighting game with Sonic in his Werehog form. I actually quite enjoy this, and I think it’s one of the better “non-Sonic-style” types of additional gameplay in Sonic games. Combat is satisfying to do, with lots of combos, being able to pick up enemies. It does have a QTE issue in that you can perform a finisher, which has a long animation. I found myself ignoring this quite a bit as it seemed quicker to just carry on pummeling some enemies (except for the evil wasp enemies, those were annoying to fight). The platforming sections of the night stages aren’t great, as the grab feels delayed and some camera angles make it incredibly difficult for you to aim your jump (the lack of a shadow beneath Sonic also makes it far more difficult). And some levels just have a lot of walking on narrow platforms.

The big problem with Sonic Unleashed is the pacing of it. Between levels, you have to explore multiple hub worlds. I do like the sections where you talk to people, do some side quests, as it makes the game feel big in scope. There’s a secondary hub area where the levels are located in “gaia gates”. You will have to locate these levels (some of which require specific abilities), but you need to meet certain conditions to enter. First, the level needs to be available at that point in the story (sometimes you need to speak to a professor to tell you to head there, and the level isn’t available unless you talk to him first), and secondly you need to gather enough Sun and Moon medals to access it. Unless you’re an expert who has played the game many times, this means a lot of replaying previous levels. The Night levels also seem to have the most medals and due to the pacing you can take your time exploring the level (whereas in the day stages, you mostly stumble upon them at random), so most of this repeated playthrough will be as the Werehog. Sometimes it can be hours between playing Sonic levels.

If the game properly directed you to the next level, and changed the Sun and Moon medals to unlocking extras, than Sonic Unleashed would be a brilliant game. Unfortunately, this incredibly dull padding sours the game quite a lot.

44. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games

  • Original Platform: Wii
  • Where to get: Second hand

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One big improvement over the first Wii Olympic Games is that all events are unlocked from the start, so as a party game it’s instantly accessible. At the same time, it feels like there’s also not a lot to do in London 2012 as it seems that the mode where you would unlock games just isn’t included. The Winter Olympic Games that preceded this had a great mode where you went through a mixture of missions and events across a number of “days” to become the overall champion, with some boss encounters thrown in. This just has nothing.

There is a good variety in events, with the basics like 100m and hurdles, match sports like Badminton, Volleyball and Football, technical sports like Equestrian and Discus and the dream events.

The technical sports still don’t work very well, with it being difficult to time things. One big problem with this (most evident with discus) is that you have to actively stop yourself from trying to play the sport with the Wii Remote. If you try throwing a discus by acting out throwing a discus, you’ll fail. Instead you’ll have to wait for the animation to play out (resisting the urge to move your arm in time to the animation) and give the Wii Remote a quick flick once the animation is finished. Hammer Throw seems like it would work better, but requires very precise timing, I got one throw that wasn’t a foul in nine attempts.

Running, swimming and cycling work well, all feeling intuitive in their controls. I really like that Sonic is given a life jacket when swimming, which was an unexpected little touch.

Football is simple but good fun, but these two team/player sports have the same issue as other entries where you can’t just play a single match, but must compete in a tournament. Table tennis is really good, feeling closer to the quality of Wii Sports Tennis, while Badminton just feels more like a rhythm game and Volleyball is just awkward.

I also felt let down by the dream events. They don’t feel like an extension to the sport they’re based on, more like random minigames from Mario Party. The Winter Olympic Games did a better job at these.

This is better than the first Olympic Games, but a step down from the Winter one. Oh, and one additional thing (which isn’t really Sega’s fault) is that the game uses a lot of Olympics imagery. This usually isn’t a huge issue, but for London 2012, the imagery is absolutely hideous.

 

45. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

  • Original Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
  • Version Played: PC
  • Where to get: Steam, Xbox Store, PS3 Store

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From a singleplayer perspective, I think this is the best kart-style racer, and also one of the best from a multiplayer perspective. 

In Sonic Racing, Sonic and some classic SEGA characters like Danica Patrick, Wreck-It Ralph and Team Fortress Spy/Heavy/Pyro race around evolving tracks with transforming vehicles in car, boat and plane modes. The handling and controls feel extremely smooth, drifting around corners at high speeds. 

The trick system is also a vital part of movement now. Performing tricks will give you a boost, but now the right analogue stick controls the direction of your roll. In car/boat modes, rolling left and right will move your car in that direction, while in the air it also applies to up/down. It’s always very satisfying to do, especially when you position yourself as well.

The tracks in this are amazingly well done. They all have varying amounts of “evolution”, so some will be the same for three laps, some will change gradually while others will be completely different. Forcing on Sonic first, there are three tracks: Seaside Hill, Sky Sanctuary and Galactic Parade – interestingly one from the main “eras” of Sonic.

Seaside Hill is the basic level, but has multiple jumps, the large rolling disc from Sonic Heroes to dodge and changes to a water course on lap three (with a gorgeous looking coral reef). Sky Sanctuary swaps between plane and car-type laps and is heavily based on the Sonic Generations version. The Death Egg will also get closer and closer as you progress.

Galactic Parade is an absolute spectacle, with lots of ships flying in the background, you race on a section where robots are shooting lasers (it feels just like the Sonic Colours level it’s loosely based on) and on lap three, a large ship warps into the way of the track and becomes part of it. It feels straight out of the game, and the same holds true for most of the tracks,

Other stand out tracks (although most are great) are the Skies of Arcadia, where there’s a massive battle happening with airships, which drastically alters the track as you race on it, the NiGHTS level which its surreal imagery and completely different segments each map, and the Burning Rangers (a game I know nothing about) level which takes place in a flooding underground base. They all have a great spectacle about them. 

On top of the cups, you also have a singleplayer to work through. Here you collect stars by completing challenges based on difficulty (with expert difficulty unlocking after finishing all but the final few challenges. There are some optional “paths” to unlock characters and “mods” for each character (which allow you to adjust a racer’s stats by increasing one aspect while decreasing another). I think a bit more variety in missions would be nice, but everything is still very enjoyable.

For Sonic characters, you have Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Dr Robotnik, Shadow and Metal Sonic alongside characters from other sega games and some non-Sega guests. I really like some of the stranger choices like a football manager or General Winter and Willemus (WWII and Roman generals), although I think it’s strange that these characters are only on the PC version. Everyone has a unique vehicle that, for the most part, suits them. My only complaint is that Tails has a shiny vehicle very similar to Sonic’s, which seems like a strange choice when Tails literally has a transforming plane in the Sonic games. His vehicle needed to look more hand-made.

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Sonic Adventure 2

SA 2 is one of my favorite Sonic games.  The Sonic/Shadow levels are indeed great and I like the treasure hunting levels too, though I also don't find myself replaying those stages on their own (except for Pumpkin Hill, I absolutely love the look of Pumpkin Hill).  I personally really enjoyed the mech shooter stages of Tails/Eggman.  I can see how the sound effects can be annoying though.

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Cosmos Rogue

Sonic Adventure 2 is a game I absolutely loved as a kid. It is still the Sonic game I have spent the most hours on, and probably in my top five of all games I've played. I wish I could say I still feel that way about the game today; I tried replaying it a few months ago, and I just couldn't force myself to actually play the last story.

SA2 was Sonic's final game as a console mascot, and also his first outing as a third party title. As such, it is the last Sonic title that really feels like a big deal as a game that lives on in the public conscious long after it's time has past. It was after all many Sonic fan's first Sonic game. But I can't help but feel that SA2, for all of it's content, epic narrative, and relative polish compared to it's predecessor, diminished the Sonic series in some way. SA2 is a stripped down game compared to SA1; gone are the adventure fields, flying, fishing, chase levels, and most of the minigames. What remains is less impressive than what was seen in SA1. The speed stages should have been working their way back toward the multi-tier level design seen in the Genesis games, but are simplified instead, often devolving to straight lines connected by springs and other automated sequences. The treasure hunting levels on the other hand are vastly bigger than they were in SA1. Too big, unfortunately. As someone who once got all 180 emblems in this game I had plenty of trouble finding the emerald pieces again, and running around waiting for the emerald detector to start beeping isn't engaging gameplay. The shooting stages marry clunky controls with a bad camera, and throw in some real cheap enemy placement for good measure.

The narrative is also simplified. The theme of violence in one generation boomeranging around to hurt future generations returns from SA1, but where the first Adventure game explored how that violence hurts people down the line from multiple viewpoints, that idea is really only explored via Shadow's plotline in SA2. One positive SA2's narrative has going for it is that City Escape and Radical Highway make for tremendous character establishing moments for Sonic and Shadow respectively.

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is a really damn good game. I don't really have much to add to what @Cube already said. As a big Skies of Arcadia fan, playing the SoA track for the first time was a moment that made me genuinely happy. On the other hand, as a TF2 fan, I was disappointed that the Team Fortress characters don't use their voice actors from TF2 itself. They're some of the most appealing characters to appear in a video game, and their VAs played a major role in making them the icons they are.

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46. Sonic Jam (Game.com)

  • Original Platform: Game.com
  • Where to get: Second hand

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This is a compilation of Sonic games featuring classic levels from Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. You can choose to play them as either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. These are advertising points on the box of the Game.com version of Sonic Jam, a game better known for being an extremely well made Sonic compilation for the Sega Saturn.

If you don’t know what the GameCom was, it was a handheld that tried to compete with the Game Boy. It had a similar black and white screen but boasted higher specs – although games didn’t really utilise it. It did have a touch screen and limited internet capability. When porting a game to a handheld system like this, you have to compromise in some way, mainly graphics, to make the game playable.

Except Tiger Electronics didn’t want to do this. The sprites are taken straight from the Mega Drive games (if they didn’t want to make any, they could have asked for the Game Gear ones). This focus on graphics (it should be noted that it’s a black and white console, so all backgrounds were removed) is one of the core issues with the Game.com version of Sonic Jam: Sonic takes up most of the screen.

The levels in this are also not the levels from the classic games, but merely “inspired” by the first stage of each. There are four acts for each, but when you take Emerald Hill and Angel Island, remove the background and make them black and white, they look extremely similar. Despite being made for the GameCom, the levels don’t feel like they were made for the console, as you have falls you can’t see (a lot of the time, the ground is pretty much five pixels from the bottom of the ground), you need to jump over spikes before they appear on the screen and all sorts of other problems due to the tiny amount you can see on both sides. The Game Gear version of Sonic 2 is known for having these issues, but the GameCom Sonic is even worse.

Then there are the physics of Sonic himself. The developers figured this aspect of Sonic was so important that it renders the game unplayable. If you go slow enough so that you have time to stop before a jump, you won’t be able to make the jump. You’ll often have to run backwards in order to do a running jump. Inclines also kill your speed almost instantly, unless you’re running at full speed (which will cause death), you can sometimes make it to the top, but other times you have to move up it bit by bit by jumping constantly for 20+ seconds. It really is agonising to play.

After four acts in each of the three “games”, you’ve played everything. The one good thing I have to say is that there is a good variety in bosses, as you will encounter them in acts 2, 3 and 4. These are based on bosses in the games, but because they have to place Dr Robotnik on the screen, you just have to jump up a few times to kill him.

Sonic Jam on the GameCom is by far the worst Sonic game I’ve encountered so far, and I think it will likely be the worst overall.

 

47. Sonic Jump Fever

  • Original platform: Android/iOS
  • Availability: Only available if downloaded previously.

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When I wrote about the first Android version of Sonic Jump, I never mentioned the endless mode. This was because it was just a bonus, and not anything meaningful to me.

This is important to mention now because the endless mode of Sonic Jump – an additional extra to the main game – is the entirety of Sonic Jump Fever. There’s no campaign mode with crafted levels that feel satisfying to complete, just random endless platforms.

Well, technically, it’s not “endless” as such. You have a time limit and you reach the “end” once it runs out. When you fall, you don’t die, you just appear in a cannon at the bottom of the screen and get blasted to carry on. Progressing in this doesn’t feel satisfying in any way, as it just means you had a lucky set of platforms that got you to the next time extension checkpoint, not by skill.

On top of this, Sonic Rush Fever has the same issues as the Sonic Dash games – you can upgrade your characters and buy items that offer you a one-time help.This means that your scores are entirely linked to how much time you spend grinding – or how much money you put into the game.

Sonic Jump Fever also features a Chao garden. There’s not much to do here, you’ll get eggs by spending coins (or money) and you have a limited amount of time to use them enough times to earn their “loyalty”. Run out of time and they’ll vanish. Playing enough times to earn their loyalty sounds like a simple task, but that’s where the energy meter comes into play.

If you’ve been lucky enough to not encounter energy meters in mobile games, this is how it works: you can play Sonic Jump Fever 5 times (which doesn’t take long at all, one to two minutes per play). After this you must wait for your energy meter to fill up at a rate of one go per 25 minutes. Of course, you can also pay premium currency to fill this up, because that’s all Sonic Jump Fever cares about: making you want to part with your money.

Sonic Jump and Sonic Jump Fever are rather fascinating games as they portray the evolution of mobile games rather well. The first one is a game made up of pre-made levels, designed to give you an increased challenge as you progress, and add in new challenges and features along the way, while Sonic Jump Fever is just endless grinding to try and hook you in so you’ll waste money on it.

48. Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive)

  • Original platform: Mega Drive
  • Version Played: PAL & NTSC versions
  • Where to get: Available on many platforms and collections.

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This game was my early childhood. I absolutely adored it as a kid, playing it many, many times on my Mega Drive. It has a very secure and special space in my heart. I also had Sonic 2 as a kid, but the original stuck with me more. That said, I find it very difficult to play Sonic the Hedgehog on the original hardware (I do have a Mega Drive and the main Sonic games), due to being spoiled by different versions I’ve played in the nearly 30 years since. This isn’t due to new features, but more that those versions are based on the American and Japanese versions, and not the European version.

Back in the day (I feel old writing that), TV technology in Europe was different to America and Japan, running at 50Hz instead of 60Hz. Some games got a proper “conversion” to 50Hz, meaning the European version was very close in most aspects, but Sonic the Hedgehog 1 did not get this. Games now have differences in frame rates (such as 30fps, 60fps) but the important thing to note is that the games still run at the same speed. Characters don’t move faster at 60fps, it’s just that the movement is slower. The difference between 50Hz and 60Hz, while technically being about frames per second, is very different.

50Hz games (when not properly converted) simply run slower. Sonic runs slower, and it takes longer to complete levels. Even the timer in the game runs slowly. This means that according to the game, you can finish the levels in both 50Hz and 60Hz versions with the exact time on the in-game timer, it will have taken longer in real time for the 50Hz version. This also extends to the music, which also runs slower. Here’s an example of Spring Yard Zone:

Oddly, I had no issues getting used to the faster music or faster pace when I first played a 60Hz version (which was probably working out how to activate 60Hz in Sonic Mega Collection on GameCube), but going backwards is something I struggle with. For me, I’d much rather play the 60Hz version, which is most accessible in emulated forms.

As for the game itself, I don’t think I can say anything that hasn’t already been said. I absolutely love the game. Although Labyrinth Zone is a low point, I still think it has some nice ideas. I also really like Marble Zone – I don’t mind when Sonic games focus on slower paced platformer for some moments or levels. I absolutely love the graphics, sound effects and music as well.

One small thing I’ve noticed in more recent playthroughs is that Sonic 1 is actually really good at introducing gimmicks in each level, as the first time you can encounter something it’s usually “safe”, with it getting dangerous once you know how it works. This means you don’t really die because you weren’t expecting a mechanic, because you’ve already been able to “test” it. I was also surprised about how subtle this is. It’s a really well designed game, and I just absolutely love it.

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Cosmos Rogue

Green Hill Zone remains the platonic ideal of all a Sonic stage should be. The multi tier level design effectively challenges both the player's platforming ability and their mastery of the level layout. Green Hill Zone walks the tightrope of expecting the player to play the level over and over to get better/faster at it, while still being forgiving to the novice who is playing the game for the first time. Even the stage's aesthetics play a role in telling Sonic the Hedgehog's story of the danger of environmental degradation. Green Hill Zone is a masterpiece.

Unfortunately most of that is absent from the next level in Sonic 1, Marble Garden Zone. MGZ actively resists allowing the player to go fast, and is simply tedious in my opinion. TBH I rarely play Sonic 1 past GHZ. Hopefully Origins will add a level select to the game.

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5 hours ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

Green Hill Zone remains the platonic ideal of all a Sonic stage should be. The multi tier level design effectively challenges both the player's platforming ability and their mastery of the level layout. Green Hill Zone walks the tightrope of expecting the player to play the level over and over to get better/faster at it, while still being forgiving to the novice who is playing the game for the first time. Even the stage's aesthetics play a role in telling Sonic the Hedgehog's story of the danger of environmental degradation. Green Hill Zone is a masterpiece.

Unfortunately most of that is absent from the next level in Sonic 1, Marble Garden Zone. MGZ actively resists allowing the player to go fast, and is simply tedious in my opinion. TBH I rarely play Sonic 1 past GHZ. Hopefully Origins will add a level select to the game.

You're right. They should bring it back more.

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And the less said about Green Hill in games of the 2010s, the better. Anyway

4

Like Forces: aggressively deficient. 2/10. Sega not delisting them is a crime against good games.

Dash

Mobile fluff, had my fill ages ago. But if you don't wanna play Crash On The Run because of Activision, it's a pretty good replacement.

Adventure 2

God damn awesome

Unleashed

Also god damn awesome and I was an idiot for not realizing it sooner. The sooner Sega remaster this, the sooner we as a species can reach nirvana.

1

It has Green Hill in it so that must meant it's amazing on principle, right?

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Cosmos Rogue
9 hours ago, charmsb said:

You're right. They should bring it back more.

It's a goddamn shame they wasted their best level on Forces and that now the community is sick of it, I tell you what.

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I'm now up to date with where I've played, so updates will be slower after this.

 

49. Sonic Heroes

  • Original Platform: GameCube, PS2, PC
  • Version Played: GameCube
  • Where to get: Second hand

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Sonic Heroes takes on the trend from the Adventure of having many playable characters and ups the amount to a whopping 12. They’re all set into teams of three: Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles), Team Dark (Shadow, Rogue, Omega), Team Rose (Amy, Cream, Big) and Team Chaotix (Epsio, Charmy and Vector).

The most notable thing about Sonic Heroes is that you play as a whole team at once, with you changing the “leader” at will. Each team has three kinds of characters: Speed, Flight and Power, each with a different formation. In Speed, the characters will line up behind the leader, with power they will be at the leader’s sides and in flight you have the hilarious image of them standing on top of each other.

Unfortunately, each team doesn’t feel that different to each other, and some abilities are a bit strange. Knuckles, for example, uses his glide to get height from fans, but Vector and Big also have this ability, even though it’s a bit odd. A bit more variety in the powers would be nice, but the levels would have to be designed with the different powers in mind. Instead, the main portion of each level is built for all teams.

To reach the ending, you have to play the game as all four teams (and collect the chaos emeralds). You play on slightly different versions of the same levels, so you effectively have to beat the game four times. Teams Sonic and Dark are versions of the main levels where you just have to get to the end, Team Rose has shorter and easier versions, and Team Chaotix has to complete boring tasks (like collecting 10 things), so has flowers that can be used to warp back to the start if you miss anything.

So you’ll be replaying each stage a lot. On top of this, the way to access the special stage is rather difficult: you need to find a key in act 2 and make it through the rest of the stage without falling or getting hit, which is easier set and done.

For the most part, I quite like the stages. There’s a good variety, all with their unique looks and feelings. Casino Park is the main exception, it felt really out of place as most levels feel like part of a world, while Casino Park doesn’t feel like it’s connected to anything else as it’s very abstract, and the pinball segments are a nightmare due to the physics of Sonic Heroes.

Those physics are pretty much broken. Nothing feels consistent in Sonic Heroes, and it feels you can make the same jumps with different outcomes. One one segment of Lost Jungle, there was a grind rail that drops you on a vine. I had to re-do this bit many times due to later sections, but occasionally Sonic would just miss the vine and shoot off in a different direction. And this is a part where you just hold B. The homing attack is a lot less reliable than the Adventure games, and while moving between grind rails is much better, jumping onto them is very hit-and-miss. I also encountered a strange issue where Tails became unavailable during Casino Park during a pinball segment, and I had to jump to my doom because there was no way to progress.

Making matters worse is the camera angles, especially during the fly stages. The camera pretty much points upwards, so you can’t see where you’re landing half the time. Sometimes the bottom character even dangles at the bottom of the screen, leaving no space to see the platforms you’re supposed to be landing on. Another issue are that some ramps are designed for the speed character, and if you use the fly character you can overshoot the platform you’re supposed to automatically land on.

It’s a big shame because without these issues, Sonic Heroes would be a lot of fun (even with the repetition). The buggy nature of the game just leads to many unfair deaths, made worse by the low amount of lives in the game and some checkpoints that are very far apart. Whenever I finished a difficult level, I just felt relieved that nothing glitchy happened more than a feeling of satisfaction that you would get from a fair difficulty. I’d love to see a remastered version, as with some bug fixes and extra checkpoints, Sonic Heroes could be a really good game.

One thing I do have to give credit for is the soundtrack. The stage music is great (except for Casino’s Park out of tune music), and the songs are great, especially the final boss music “What I’m Made Of”.

50. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

  • Original Platform: Wii U
  • Where to get: Wii U eShop

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One of Sonic’s infamously bad games, based on a cartoon spin-off with designs that are unliked (especially Knuckles), I went into it expecting a horribly broken mess. The first thing I noticed is that there’s a lack of one important thing in the main gameplay: speed.

While it fails at that main aspect of Sonic, everything else was…actually pretty fine. I actually found myself enjoying Sonic Boom, and with the post-launch patches isn’t actually that buggy, the only odd thing encountered was everyone warping near to Sonic, but even big games like Mass Effect have that issue for followers.

In Sonic Boom, you swap between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy at will (although in some segments they’ll split up so you’ll have access to two of them), utilising their different abilities. Personality wise, Sonic and Tails are pretty much their usual selves, while Knuckles leans completely into the “dumb musclehead” persona that Knuckles was slowly becoming in the main games. Amy is drastically different, dropping her obsession with Sonic and having her interest in archeology being the reason why everyone is looking into the threat. She acts as a surprisingly confident “second leader”, often giving her idea of what to do and everyone following. I really like Amy in this game.

For abilities, Sonic can spindash up quarter pipes and use homing attack, Amy can perform acrobatics to traverse thin walkways and triple jump, Knuckles can climb up rocky surfaces and Tails can glide further and fly up using fans as well as deploy a small robot to hit switches. Everyone feels unique while using the same moveset and are all utilized well. Some sections will also give you two ways to progress, designed for different characters, so you can choose who you prefer.

While I do think a run button is definitely needed, I still enjoyed the platforming, it always felt precise and I never felt like I died because of the camera. I think deaths are slightly too lenient, as you respawn straight away instead of at the last combat and your only loss is scrap that you use for upgrades (similar to how the LEGO games work), but I prefer that when compared to a frustrating system.

Combat is another big part of Sonic Boom. Like the platforming, it’s basic but enjoyable. You have a standard attack, special ability, grapple beam and dodge. Some enemies will temporarily shield themselves so you have to avoid attacks, but most of the time you can get away with just spamming homing attacks or Amy’s hammer. But if you want to mix things up, you can. Tails is more unique in combat as he uses ranged attacks.

Sonic Boom has one element of speed, and that’s in the “road” segments, with boost rings that propel you forward as you dodge obstacles. These sections are fun, but like a lot of the game, are also quite basic.

Between each level you have to traverse the overworld, which feels a bit empty and could have done with some more NPCs (even if you couldn’t talk to them) as there’s a rather large town with around 3 residents. This section is where a run button is needed the most, as it feels especially slow as you’re out in the open.

Overall, Sonic Boom isn’t a bad game, just fairly average. I enjoyed my time with it, which is more than I was expecting based on its reputation

51. Sonic Drift

  • Original Platform: Game Gear
  • Where to get: Sonic Adventure DS, Sonic Mega Collection Plus

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An extremely basic kart racer made for the Game Gear. Because of how big the screen is, Sega decided that there was too much to handle and had all the gameplay take place on the lower third of the map, with the background and map taking up the rest of the screen.

You drive through three cups, all of which have tracks based on the same six levels from Sonic 1 (16-bit version, not the one on Game Gear), with different layouts. They all feel exactly the same, though, with the background being the main thing different. The backgrounds do look very nice, though.

Dotted along the tracks are a few powerups, such as a spring jump and an invincibility that speeds you up and seems to last for almost an entire lap.

That’s about it for Sonic Drift, there’s not much interesting about it.

52. Sonic Eraser

  • Original Platform: Mega Drive (via Mega Modem)
  • Where to get: Unavailable.

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A Sonic game that was only released in Japan via the Modem for the Mega Drive, through the Sega Game Library service. It’s a shape matching block puzzle game (which is nice, as it is colourblind friendly), although has very little to do with Sonic other than his sprite appearing in Vs mode.

Blocks of four shapes will fall from the top of the screen, you can’t rotate the block itself but can change the order of the shapes within the block. Once they fall down, any groups of two will vanish, and the game will speed up over time. I’m not a big fan of games like this, but found Sonic Eraser to be enjoyable. 

On top of the regular mode, Sonic Eraser has a few different ways to play. While in a regular game, each individual shape will fall down, the Block mode has each “block” stick together, only falling when combos are made. There’s also a “doubt” mode, where a random shape will turn into a white square once it has fallen, adding some randomness.

Round mode contains 40 puzzles. It will give you an initial setup with some special spinning blocks. You have to remove these by matching them up, which is done by removing the shapes around it. 

Finally, there is Vs mode which can be played in 2 player against a computer. As you play, your Sonics will battle and if you knock the opponent out, you win. The computer seems very bad at the game as I didn’t have much of a problem defeating it. And while the music in the singleplayer modes are bad…the versus music might be the worst Sonic music:

 

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Cosmos Rogue

Sonic Heroes... the game where so many of the elements that, for better or worse, define the series to this day. The storytelling, poor as it already was, took a step back in Heroes that it's never really recovered from. While the stories in the classic and Adventure games had some greater meaning beyond the surface level plot of Dr. Eggman trying to take over the world, the threadbare plot in Heroes has no relation to the real world. A poorly designed villain wants to do bad stuff and that's it. The actual telling of the story has regressed too, with some of the worst character animation and voice acting in the series making many scenes simply unpleasant to the senses.

The simplified narrative isn't the only way Heroes foretold Sonic's future, as the game really thinks it's echoing the classic games with it's garish color palette, character models that look like cheap plastic toys, and generally uninteresting environments. Sonic Heroes understands the aesthetics of the classic Sonic games as well as Sonic 4 understands the physics of the classic titles.

The gameplay is just as bad as everything else. I don't want to shit on Takashi Iizuka's efforts designing Heroes' levels knowing the awful conditions he worked in for the game, but the levels in Heroes consistently struggle to do anything meaningful with the team based gameplay. The same switch "puzzles", whirlwind poles and fan gimmicks appear in stage after stage.

As for the team based gameplay that is nominally the game's main selling point, Heroes is at odds with itself. Levels are designed to require the usage of all three characters to progress, as is the game's battle system. Enemies in Heroes now have hit points, meaning it takes multiple homing attacks to destroy even a basic badnick; but Knuckles and the other power characters can destroy common enemies in a single punch. However, the developers also included a level up mechanic that almost completely thwarts the intended design of having to switch characters during combat, as a leveled up Sonic can also destroy most enemies in a single hit.

Okay, I've lost my train of thought after a phone call, so I'm going to finish this with bullet points.

  • Sonic's shitty useless friends are out in force in Heroes. A dozen playable characters, maybe half of whom contribute any unique gameplay experiences. Neither are the characters here to help tell the story, as again, bare bones plot. Heroes only has four teams to play as because the game needed lots and lots of padding with the game having only twelve stages, and because somebody at Sonic Team got it into their head that having a bunch of playable characters was one of the defining "features" that made a Sonic game a Sonic game.
  • The level up mechanic also ruins the elegant simplicity that actually had been a core element of Sonic gameplay. Heroes' central gameplay gimmick requires the player to learn a moveset that is triple in size compared to what the player had to deal with in any previous Sonic game. On top of that the level up mechanic means that all of those moves are constantly changing in their abilities; sometimes Sonic's homing attack is strong enough to blow away enemy shields, sometimes it isn't. It's very telling about how intuitive Sonic Team themselves thought the entire team based gameplay system they came up with was that they had to put signs up everywhere telling the player which character to use.
  • I've been hard on the Adventure titles in previous, but I think those games were made by talented developers who were hamstrung by tight deadlines and tight budgets while they tried to solve some very difficult problems. Heroes is the point where I think Sonic, and Sonic Team, crossed the line from being a beautiful mess to just being a mess.
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Unfortunately, each team doesn’t feel that different to each other,

Interesting you say that, considering the prevailing wisdom of the time was all the games having 3475 trillion playstyles, and Sonic Heroes seems to do the sensible thing my streamlining them all.

Guess it's neat to look back on aspects like these with a different perspective after some time has passed. It's gonna make the reception to Colors Ultimate especially interesting to watch.

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15 hours ago, BadBehavior said:

Interesting you say that, considering the prevailing wisdom of the time was all the games having 3475 trillion playstyles, and Sonic Heroes seems to do the sensible thing my streamlining them all.

 

My issue is more because you play on slight variations of the same levels, so it just feels like you're re-doing the same things over and over. It wouldn't be a problem if the levels were more unique for each team. 

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To be fair to Heroes, Team Dark's levels are usually extended versions of Team Sonic's. And of course Team Chaotix got stuck with all of the alternate gameplay bullshit that hampered the Adventure titles anyway. So there is some variety between how the different teams play. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why Heroes gets hit with criticism for expecting players to play through the same dozen levels multiple times, while games like S3&K and Mania don't get hit with that criticism.

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