Sonic and his friends leave motion blurs while running through the woods in "Sonic Colors"
(Sega)

Gotta Go Fast! The 10 Best Sonic Games, Ranked

Sonic the Hedgehog has been raising questions ever since the Blue Blur raced into our 2-D screens decades ago. Is he really a hedgehog? He doesn’t look like one. Is he an echidna? What even is that? Is Sonic even still alive after April Fools? To celebrate Sonic’s successes, these are the best Sonic games, ranked.

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10. Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic runs through green hills in "Sonic the Hedgehog"
(Sega)

We all start somewhere. Sonic the Hedgehog started in only two dimensions! Imagine trying to run when everything you see looks like the edge of a piece of paper! Impossible! Sonic the Hedgehog is far from the best Sonic title ever made (and a far cry from the worst) but it earns points for being the game that started it all.

What’s not to love? You’re a speedy little fever dream version of a hedgehog just cruising around at the speed of sound! Got places to go! Gotta follow that rainbow! Hey, that’s a pretty good line. Somebody should put that in a song and use it as the opening track for another Sonic game. That would SURELY be the best Sonic game of all time, no?

9. Sonic Colors

Sonic and his friends leave motion blurs while running through the woods in "Sonic Colors"
(Sega)

Sonic Colors is kind of like an amateur artist’s paint mixing board. It’s a bit of a mess. Don’t get me wrong, Colors looks amazing. It’s a Sonic game in a cute amusement park setting! What’s not to love? Despite a slightly convoluted story, the colors of Colors manage to shine bright. It’s by far the best Sonic Wii game in existence. The only Sonic Wii game in existence! (I know there were others but it’s better for everyone if we pretend there weren’t). The brightest crayon in the Colors carton is the boss battles. Some of the best in Sonic history. So what if the plot is a little shoddy? It’s a Sonic game! Just make like Sonic and run so fast you stop thinking!

8. Sonic Origins Plus

A pink hedgehog runs through a 2D city in "Sonic Origins Plus"
(Sega)

Sonic Origins Plus is four games in one! Sonic 1, 2, 3 & Knuckles, and CD all conveniently rolled into one neat little package! While I’d argue that the Sonic games really didn’t hit their stride (no pun intended) until Sonic went 3D, the combined forces of the Sonic classic games make Origins Plus a worthy contender for the list. Yeah, I get it, it’s like awarding a winning slot in the Hot Dog Eating contest to a team of four people, it’s almost cheating. It’s not quite as impressive as a standalone competitor, but hey, they should have brought friends along.

7. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sonic runs through a 2D cityscape in "Sonic The Hedgehog 2"
(Sega)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 did exactly what a video game sequel is supposed to do. It took the original and made it that much better. Movies hardly get it right, but video games manage to nail it. Sonic 2 gets big points for the inclusion of Tails, the two-tailed flying fox so named after his only unique feature! Sonic’s arsenal is also upgraded with a bevy of cool new moves, and he’s gonna need them to take down the slew of frankly dope bosses and levels that this game has to offer. As a standalone Sonic game, Sonic 2 is one of the finest.

6. Sonic Generations

Sonic runs through an East Asian inspired world in "Sonic Generations"
(Sega)

What do you do when you need to make a good game in a series that has jumped the shark so hard it should be employed at Sea World? You lean in hard to nostalgia. Sonic Generations did exactly that, borrowing from previous generations of Sonic games and installing 2D levels in an otherwise 3D title! Clever! The game is basically a trip down memory lane for ol’ Sonic, with the Hedgehog revisiting nine classic levels from the days of yore.

5. Sonic Mania Plus

Sonic runs through the desert in "Sonic Mania Plus"
(Sega)

Sonic Mania Plus decided to one-up the nostalgia-heavy Sonic Generations by making an entirely 2D Sonic game for the modern era. It worked. It really, really worked. Sonic races through a mix of new and classic zones in this charming addition to the Nintendo Switch library. Its best feature is its portability friendliness! The handheld capabilities of the Switch perfectly complement the blast from the past game design and pass the 2D Sonic torch for the next generation.

4. Sonic Unleashed

Sonic the hedgehog runs through the jungle world in "Sonic Unleashed"
(Sega)

Many of Sonic’s modern 3D games limped instead of ran. They were clunky. They were convoluted. They were trash. Sonic Unleashed was the exception to the rule. Sonic Unleashed is an all-out sprint, featuring some of the most dizzyingly fast-paced levels in the game’s history. The game is not without its detractors, mind you. The infamous werehog beat ’em up sequences are a hot-button issue within the Sonic community. Some love it. Some hate it. Me? I love the werehog for the concept alone.

3. Sonic Frontiers

Sonic looks out at a green open world in "Sonic Frontiers"
(Sega)

Sonic Frontiers is easily the prettiest Sonic game ever made, unless you’re one of those “the classic GameBoy graphics were better” kind of people. (They weren’t.) The series took a major risk by setting Frontiers in an open world, and the risk paid off. It’s a thrill being able to choose to run in any one of the many directions there are, rather than just forward or to the right like every other Sonic game to come before. What do you find in all this unbridled exploration? Sweet boss battles, a dope soundtrack, and a beautiful wide world.

2. Sonic Adventure

Sonic runs down a wooden dock in "Sonic Adventure"
(Sega)

Sonic Adventure is classic. It was the series’ first groundbreaking foray into the wonderful world of 3D gaming, and the transition from 2D went off without a single stumble. Sonic the Hedgehog himself also got a makeover, trading in his cutesy design for a sleek “cool guy” persona that would define the character for decades to come. While the Dreamcast didn’t stand the test of time in the way that Nintendo’s old systems did, Sonic Adventure is perhaps the machine’s crowning achievement.

1. Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic runs from a truck down a city street in "Sonic Adventure 2"
(Sega)

Sonic Adventure 2 was IT. The game opens with Sonic tearing off a piece of a government helicopter and using it to SURF down the streets to “Escape From The City”, a consummate soundtrack banger. The children of the Gamecube generation were powerless to resist. And Sonic Adventure 2 only got better from there. Yes, the running stages are fun and playing as Shadow the Hedgehog was equally awesome, but the CHAO GARDEN!? The pleasure of raising angelic little alien babies was the only parenting experience I’ll ever need. I can die happy without biological kids of my own, my REAL children are safely tucked away on a Gamecube memory card.

(featured image: Sega)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.