All Sonic: My Attempt To Play Almost Every Sonic Game

31. SegaSonic the Hedgehog

  • Original platform: Arcade
  • Where to get: Unavailable

I wasn’t able to play this in the fully intended method: this is a Japanese-only 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.

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.

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.

34. Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

40. Sonic Cricket

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

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.

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