Wednesday, June 9, 2021

My Top 10 Favorite Sonic Games

Happy Sonic Month from Emerald Rangers. This is Ghost Ranger giving my top 10 favorite Sonic games. Not the most original article, but one that I wanted to get out of the way to get the ball rolling. Click "read more" for my countdown.

Disclaimer: This is purely my opinion. Also, not the titles I consider the "best" of the franchise, just my personal favorites.

#10: Sonic R (PC/Re-releases)

Let the controversy begin. I know this is widely considered a "bad game", but I had a lot of fun with it. While I did have a Saturn as a kid, I did own the PC version of this title and the Gems Collection which uses that port. This game is my ultimate guilty pleasure. It is very charming with the super catchy music, bright and cheerful visuals, and how every stage feels like its own world. Gameplay is over-hated, I found it very easy to get a feel for and it was fun to explore alternate routes that lead to unlocking other characters through collectables. (Pro tip, use the back buttons to help you steer.) Granted, there are major balance issues, not enough courses, and the Saturn port has aged poorly. However, for just a cute spin-off title, it really puts me in a good mood. Enough so that I even did a 100% playthrough of it.

#9: Sonic and the Secret Rings

And yet another controversial choice. So, why am I attached to a title with so many flaws? Because, it gave me hours of enjoyment on a new system for the last time in my life. The Wii was the last system I bought on launch day and this was one of the first games I had for it. Sadly, like many others, as I get other there is less of a thrill to buy the new biggest thing and invest hours of free time in it. This title, while it has problems, gave me a lot of fan in that classic childish form and I probably won't get that kind of experience again. Not to mention, this is one of the few Wii games where the motion controls were actually fun for me.

#8: Sonic Rush Adventure

Here was a jolly good time on my old DS. Sonic Rush was a nice title from Dimps and Sonic Teams' follow up was a dandy. A Sonic game that actually had a decent story, a surprising amount of exploration that lead to short extra levels, and a lot of unlockables that did nothing except decorate your island. Perfect for mobile gaming. This game is one of my most played on the DS; just behind Pokemon and maybe Urbz in terms of total hours put into any DS game. Good times.

#7: Sonic Unleashed (HD Version)

I do love all of the boost Sonic games. (Yes even Forces.) While I will admit that Colors and Generations are better games than Unleashed for a lot of reasons, this title was the hope for the franchise I needed. Sonic seemed on a fast decline, especially after Sonic 06, but then this title happened that, while critics hated, showed me that new Sonic games can still be fun. I know the Werhog is a God of War rip off, the SD version has bad unbalance between Day and Night stages, and the boost format still needs some polish, but the game was still fun.  Even replaying it today the game controls fine, looks amazing, and is good action packed fun. Honestly, this is the title that made be believe there was a taboo against liking Sonic. 

#6: Sonic Battle

Here is a game that is better then it has any right to be. A fighting game, smash bros. style where all the characters are 2d in a 3d environment brought to us by THQ. Sounds like it should be bad, but no it is extremely well made. The combat is solid, the customizable move set for Emerl is very well made, and even the story is not bad where Sonic actually isn't the main character. Fighting games are usually best in multiplayer; however, any game can be fun when playing with friends, but for a fighting game to be this much fun in single player is the reason I believe this is a seriously underrated classic.

#5: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

The original Sonic game and my first real video game in my life. (Not counting baby games on Dad's computer.) I feel silly even explaining why this game made the top 5, this is a major classic and one of the biggest parts of my childhood that shaped who I am today. It is an amazing 2D platformer, especially for a first time out, with great music, fast but tight controls, memorable stages, and the game that made Sega briefly outsell Nintendo in hardware. There is so much history behind this title for myself and the gaming industry as a whole. But, I am not here to give a history lesson, just to express my fondness and gratitude for this title. 

#4: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Most people say 2 is the best of the original trilogy, a few call it the most overrated, I personally thing each of the original 3 got better with each installment. Sonic 2 is another game from my childhood and from my first ever game system, the Sega Genesis. This sequel gave us the spin dash, Super Sonic, Tails, and much faster & bigger stages. Another great installment that not only felt true to the original, but nothing felt copied.

#3: Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

Normally I am not a purist and have no problem accepting updated versions of games, but this title just means too much to me. Back in 1999, all my brothers and I pulled together for a Sega Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure and boy did it get played a lot. This game was practically my whole life for a year or two and for awhile we didn't even have a VMU to save our game. I can still remember playing this game on demo TV's at the mall and getting sad when I had to leave them. You can argue all day about how badly the game has aged, but nothing you say will stop me from getting into the great mood I get every time I fire this title up. 

#2: Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Sonic 3 was a game I played until my childhood Genesis was no more. Sonic & Knuckles was the one Sonic game I did not have as a kid, at least not until Sonic Mega Collection on Gamecube. This combination is a masterpiece with advanced effects for the Genesis, 14 emeralds to collect, and 3 different playthrough routes to take with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles all having their own endings. Honestly, this is the best Sonic game ever made, but one other holds a special place to me that will never be matched.

#1: Sonic Adventure 2: Battle

Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast housed some great memories for me, but sadly my copy was broken before its time. Once I acquired the GameCube updated version, there was no going back. While the Dreamcast port has some things better, the improved Chao Garden was amazing. Don't get me wrong, the main game was a blast with epic new characters, great new stages and items, and even the story wasn't bad with some genuine dark/depressing moments. However, that Chao Garden was so much fun that is somehow made the great main game feel secondary at times. Raising those babies into racing or karate champions with mechanics that go way deeper then they ever needed to be and the parental bond you feel with each one was simply amazing for its time. It is sad this feature has yet to return, but this game was one I played for a solid decade on and off and will always be regarded as one of my most cherished titles and memories.

This was a very difficult list for because there aren't many Sonic games I actually dislike. Again, these are just my favorites for very personal reason; if I attempted a "best Sonic Games" list (which I won't) it would have looked drastically different. While some titles are technically better than the ones I listed, I made my picks based on what the titles meant to me. On that note, I hope you can tell me what some of your favorites are and why. Not as a critic, but as a gamer. Anyway, happy Sonic Month 2021, here is to the next Sonic article.

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