All Sonic: My Attempt To Play Almost Every Sonic Game

11. Sonic Rivals

  • Original Platform: PSP
  • Where to get: Vita Store

Sonic Rivals takes the gameplay of Sonic into something closer to the original Mega Drive ones, just with 3D graphics. The levels are played in 2D (just with some parts closer or further away from the camera), and there’s no boosting like the Sonic Rush games. It’s an A-to-B platformer where sticking to the top route is generally faster. The main gimmick of the levels in Sonic Rivals is that there are obstacles where you can jump off either upwards or forwards. There’s usually a button icon (kind of like a Quick Time Event) recommending one, buy you can perform either move (sometimes it can even be better doing the opposite of the recommendation.

There are six zones, with unique styles and looks, and I quite liked the layouts of all of them (although there are a few bottomless pits). If Sonic Rivals was just what I have described so far, it would actually be a great Sonic game.

But it isn’t.

When you start the first level, Sonic will be with Knuckles, joking about who will reach Eggman first (because of a plot where Eggman can capture people in cards using a camera, making it seem like the story was accidentally taken from an AR card game). Take a few steps forward and Knuckles will attack you – Sonic Rivals is a competitive racing game, even with power ups.

Power ups activate in two different ways: if you’re ahead, it will drop behind you as a trap, if you’re behind, it automatically hits your opponent (a few work slightly differently). Almost every time you use items, your opponent won’t be visible, so you don’t get to see the effects. So power ups feel more like they’re just there to attack you. Side effects include: slowing you down, freezing you, swapping controls around, pausing you in place. These are not fun at all and are incredibly frustrating to be on the receiving end of.

The AI racer doesn’t help, either. Sonic Rivals relies on ridiculous rubber banding – but only in one direction. If you get far ahead, your opponent will still catch up and rush past you, sometimes they just teleport to be in front of you. If you fall behind, there’s no chance of catching up. The cheating AI just makes the power ups even more frustrating, and if one hits you in the middle of a large uphill section, you may as well just restart the level.

The last zone of the game excludes the “rival” element and, even though it has a strict timer, this part of the game is really good – showing that the major problem was the racing mechanics.

Sonic Rivals has the potential being a solid Sonic 2D Platformer, with similarities to the classic Mega Drive games, but it just feels like you’re playing one where the game will randomly make you lose control, and decide that you have to replay a level again because it feels like it.

12. Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (Java)

  • Original Platform Java Mobile
  • Where to get: Not available, unless you happen to buy an old phone with it installed.

The graphics look quite nice for old mobile graphics, and the midi music renditions are all pretty good. One big flaw, however, is that some obstacles (such as green goo) aren’t very noticeable, so you’ll hit them a lot. For the main mode – racing through all four cups – this isn’t really a huge issue as AI racers are all very slow. As you only need some slight assistance with turns, you can experience everything it has to offer while half asleep.

The mission mode, however, is a different story. Creating a precise racing line is quite difficult due the controls, and hitting the barely visible obstacles can destroy your progress. There are four types of missions, such as one where you collect 10 rings in one lap (hitting the green goo takes your count to zero), and you simply complete them once on each track.

There are four cups, with three tracks per cup, resulting in 8 different tracks overall. This isn’t a maths error, some tracks are repeated in multiple cups.

13. Sonic Adventure

  • Original Platform: Dreamcast
  • Version Played: Xbox 360 on Xbox Series S
  • Where to get: Steam, Xbox Store

I’ve dabbled a bit in this before, but never completed it. There’s some lovingly cheesy dialogue and a ridiculous plot – both of which are great for Sonic. The main levels are mostly a lot of fun, there’s a good sense of speed and when it flows well, it’s still a great spectacle.

There are some slower platform sections – which can be good in Sonic games – but unfortunately these fall victim to the wonky controls and camera a bit more than.the faster sections, and it can be sometimes difficult to be precise with jumps (there should be a more prominent shadow underneath Sonic). Overall, the main Sonic levels are an enjoyable experience.

Everything else in Sonic’s adventure is just poor padding. You have a city to walk around to get to the stages, but it’s not really utilised, with no side missions to do with the characters, it’s just more of a fancy level select. The Casino level was mainly just repeatedly playing pinball until you have enough rings (although it does seem like you get access to a much better level if you fail the pinball), and the flying stages are rather dull.

Other characters have their own adventures. Tails is mainly flying through altered versions of Sonic’s levels, trying to be better than him but others have more unique levels. Knuckles is a treasure hunt where you have to locate parts of the master chaos emerald. Amy’s story is surprisingly pretty good, with completely new levels (only three, unfortunately) with some slower, more precise platforming that works better than those sections in Sonic’s levels. Big the Cat makes an appearance with a dreadful finishing story, while Gamma has some fairly simple shooting levels.

The music is outstanding, with some great tunes and rocking songs.

14. Sonic Generations (3DS)

  • Original Platform: 3DS
  • Where to get: 3DS eShop

While I’ve played the home console version of Sonic Generations a lot, I never played the 3DS counterpart, and it seems I was missing out, as the 3DS version isn’t a downgraded port, it’s a completely different game.

Apart from Green Hill Zone, the 7 level choices in the 3DS version are different to the home version, you have as Casino Night and Mushroom Hill Zone for the other classic stages, Emerald Coast and Radical Highway for the Sonic Adventure games. For the modern games, there’s no Sonic 06 or Sonic Unleashed, instead you have Water Palace from Sonic Rush before Tropical Resort from Sonic Colours. Sonic Heroes also gets some involvement, as the Special Stages are based on the ones from Heroes.

The modern Sonic gameplay is heavily based on Sonic Rush in this version. It’s still a 2D platformer, but with 3D graphics. While playing as modern Sonic, the camera is more dynamic and will provide fancier angles, while the levels will twist in front of itself a lot more. It feels spot on to Sonic Rush and they’re all great Sonic levels. The spectroscopic 3D also looks fantastic, although I did end up turning it off as it doesn’t work well when you’re nodding the head to the game’s music.

Classic Sonic starts off feeling like the original Mega Drive games, and the first three classic levels are fairly faithful recreations of the originals, rather than mixing them up. Unfortunately, the game adds a homing attack to the classic Sonic levels. This blurs the line between the two gameplay styles even more, so you’ll find yourself sometimes trying to boost as classic Sonic. You can ignore the homing attack and still beat the stages, but you skip the better routes. Adding the homing attack is the biggest flaw of Sonic Generations.

But overall, it’s a great Sonic game, and a great counterpart to the main version. It’s not a cheaply made downgraded port, but a second Generations game.

15. Sonic Advance

  • Original Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Versions played: GBA and Android
  • Where to get: Second Hand, Wii U eShop (Japan Only)

Despite loving Sonic and having a Game Boy Advance, for some reason I never played Sonic Advance, but it seems I was missing out.

Sonic Advance is a lot like the classic Mega Drive Sonic games, although Sonic himself is more like his modern design. It takes the original level design philosophy of Sonic – multiple routes, higher is quicker – and creates some expansive levels to be explored (and you’ll need to explore them to find the chaos emerald, as the special stages are well hidden).

For most of the game, the stages have many secondary routes, and at some point I was even wondering if there were even any bottomless pits as every time I fell, I landed on another path (or even just a hole with a spring to get back up). This makes exploration much more fun. Later levels do have bottomless pits, so it doesn’t last forever, but for the most part the levels in Sonic Advance are great.

Then there’s Egg Rocket Zone. The core idea for the level is great – you’re on a giant rocket, and have to reach the next section before separation happens and the previous part of the level is jettisoned. Unfortunately, the level is a confusing maze which seems to only have one “correct” path through it. There’s lots of routes, including some that look like the “faster, more difficult” routes, but these will cruelly send you back to previous parts of the level. It’s needlessly annoying.

On top of the original Game Boy Advance version, it was also ported to N-Gage (which is difficult to try and play), and also for Android, but only in Japan (and no longer available). The Android port is a great port, with a wider screen for better viewing distance. Although a few bits of music (which were from the Mega Drive games) have been replaced.

16. Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

  • Original Platform: Mega Drive
  •  Where to get: Steam, Sonic Mega Collection, Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, 3DS Virtual Console

In Japan, this is not a Sonic related game at all. When Puyo-Puyo got a release in North America and Europe, Sega decided to overhaul the design to base it on Dr Robotnik, featuring a bunch of robots from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon.

Puyo-Puyo/Mean Bean Machine is a colour-matching game. Two “beans” will fall down at once and you can rotate them. Match four of the same colour and they’ll vanish. At the same time, an AI opponent is competing against you. If you chain multiple combos, you’ll send a bunch of beans that don’t match and can only be removed by triggering a group of another colour next to it. First one to reach the top of the screen loses.

I could only make it to stage 3, partly due to colourblind issues (although I am bad at this style of game anyway). The beans are slightly different shapes, but it’s difficult to identify the shapes quick enough for the reaction speeds needed to compete against the AI.

17. Sonic the Fighters

  • Original platform: Arcade
  • Version Played: Xbox 360
  • Availability: Xbox Store, will be playable in Lost Judgement

Similar to colour-matching puzzle games, fighting games is another genre that I can’t get my head around properly, with combos that you need to remember and pull off. So I can’t say how Sonic the Fighters compares to other fighting games, but I will say that with the “automatic” mode for people like me, who are awful at the game, I enjoyed the rather brief game.

There’s something very charming about the low poly models for this game, there’s a really nice polygonal style to them. The stages themselves also look really nice, especially the ice stage which takes place on a giant mirror – it’s rather beautiful.

The characters include the main four heroes (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy), with characters from Knuckles Chaotix, Triple Trouble and some new additions to the franchise, with Metal Sonic and Robotnik as bosses. It’s a really odd mix. Each character’s moves do feel quite different, even with just the more basic moves.

18. Big Big’s Fishing Adventure 3

  • Original platform: Flash
  • Where to get:

Technically an April Fool’s fan game, this was made for charity and was Tweeted by the official Sonic Twitter account, so I’m counting it.

Big Big’s Fishing Adventure 3 is about Big the Cat trying to make a video game. He’s spent most of his time sleeping. The day before the deadline, Froggy goes missing (of course), so Big heads off to find him. Most of the game is a visual novel, with text referencing lots of Sonic games. Every now and then you’ll get a choice, which will determine which minigame you play.

Based on your choice, you’ll get to play a simple maze or a flappy bird clone. This follows more visual novel segments, where the wrong choice will get you a game over (although it lets you undo the choice). Pick the correct one and you’ll get to play a simple 2D fishing minigame to catch Froggy.

19. Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis (GBA)

  • Original Platform: Mega Drive
  • Version Played: Game Boy Advance
  • Where to get: No.

As part of this collection, I’m playing a bunch of ports of Sonic the Hedgehog. I’m focusing on just the first game, and more significant ports and not emulation (as found in lots of collections, the Steam version, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, etc). First up on my random ordered list is the Game Boy Advance version. As this was made after three Sonic Advance games, and was sold for £20 for just the one game, you would think it’s something special.

And in a way, it is. It’s a spectacular failure filled with many issues. Frankly, this port was not sold in a playable state, just thrown out to cash in on an anniversary. The first issue you’ll find is the music. The GBA doesn’t quite have the same sound chip as the Mega Drive and it seems that instead of modifying the music to fit what the GBA can do, they instead just had it attempt to play what it could from the Mega Drive. What you have are very tinny version with zero bass. I had to put the game down in Spring Yard Zone because I just couldn’t stop laughing at the music. It starts off not too terrible, but after around 20 seconds it attempts to keep up with the original and just spits out an incoherent mess.

The music is the least of this port’s issues, though. There is a lot of slowdown, and it affects how the game plays massively, as your jumps are slower and shorter. Then after each bit of slowdown usually follows some super fast movement where you launch uncontrollably to the side, flying over platforms with no hope of stopping. Not helping matters is the cropped screen, so some obstacles can’t be seen, especially where jumping up is concerned. The final boss doesn’t fit into the screen, so you have little time to react to it. It’s a complete mess.

And to make matters worse, the physics just feel off, particularly jumping on slopes. You’ll either barely move or fly off to the side, and this includes downwards slopes. There’s other minor things as well, such as the wrong death animation used (Sonic always “drowns” in this version), a way to exploit Robotnik fights by jumping on top of him and just bouncing on his head, all the sounds are extremely weak (especially explosions).

If you want someone to hate the original Sonic, get them to play this version.

20. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)

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

A big improvement over the first Mario & Sonic title. This gives you all of the main events straight away, with the Dream Events being the main unlockables (but aren’t difficult to unlock). The events themselves also felt a lot more fun, with rules and controls that are simpler to understand and far fewer events where a single mistimed (or unregistered) Wii Remote shake can knock you out of the competition, or create a false start.

Skiing and Snowboarding are some of the main events, both with a trick version (jump for skiing and halfpipe for snowboarding) and a race. The controls are very similar (tilt to turn, pull back to slow down) except that skiing uses both the Wii Remote and nunchuck and the Snowboarding uses just the Wii Remote – although thankfully it doesn’t force you to unplug the nunchuck. Bobsled and Skeleton have you going down a long pipe, tilting the Wii Remote to stay within the optimal racing line.

Speed Skating I couldn’t properly get the hang of, the on-screen prompts are hard to see but luckily it’s not too difficult to get used to the rhythm needed to move the remote from left to right. It’s a good way to make it feel different to the other sports. Figure Skating is a “simon says” type thing which mostly works fine, except for a tilting action which I always failed at.

Ice Hockey is great fun. It’s a simple version of ice hockey, but as it uses buttons and analogue sticks, it feels very responsive. My only issue is that you can’t select to play one match, you have to take part in a mini-tournament with two matches. Curling is by far the worst event. The swing required for how powerful your hit will be is very unreliable, and it takes ages. I ended up just doing a full power shot each time, as without sweeping it’s actually a perfect short. To make matters worse, it’s also a mini tournament.

The Dream Stages are better than the main events, with races like Snowboarding and Skiing taking place on fancy tracks with loops, jumps, springs and items. They’re incredibly good fun, with other Dream Events following similar things. Dream Figure Skating is like a “Sonic on Ice” (or “Mario on Ice”) performance. The dream events feature some new ones.

Dream Gliding was not what I was expecting. It’s like the multiplayer from Lylat Wars/Star fox 64, a dogfighting game where you score points for hitting enemy units, or even more points for hitting opponents. I was expecting something like Monkey Target from Super Monkey Ball. This, however, does get a similar game in the form of Dream Ski Jumping.

The main campaign is called “Festival” where you play through various events and training exercises to try and earn the most points (although I don’t know how they work, as even though I lost a lot of events, only one opponent had a single gold medal). You don’t have to win to progress, they just add to your final score. Every now and then you’ll encounter a boss, who you do have to beat, although my main struggle was one race with Bullet Bill. Although I did have to retry a race against King Boo, but only because the game cheated and claimed he won, even though I crossed the line first (and even the replay showed this).

Overall, this is a much better party game than the original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, and the festival is even fun for a single player.

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