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25 Best Sonic the Hedgehog Games Ranked From Worst to Best

If you had to list the top video game mascots in gaming, who comes to mind? Mario, maybe Master Chief, Pikachu, oh, and of course Sonic the Hedgehog. The blue blur has been one of the key faces representing the gaming industry since his introduction all the way back in the 90s. 

With Sonic’s 30th anniversary in full swing and the promise of a revolutionary new Sonic title around the corner, now is the best time to take a look back at the series as a whole. That’s why we decided to rank and list out the best Sonic the Hedgehog games. 

Now, keep in mind that this won’t be a list of all Sonic games ranked, because there are a lot of spin-offs and collaborative titles out there. Instead, these are the core titles in the series, plus a few core offshoots that made an impact in Sonic’s history. So without further ado, we gotta go fast and jump into the list!

Sonic Games Ranked From Worst to Best

Let’s see which Sonic games are way past cool and which ones stink worse than a rancid chili dog. Here’s our list of prominent Sonic games ranked.

25/25

Sonic Blast

Sonic Blast

Image: Aspect Co

  • Platform(s): Game Gear, Nintendo 3DS
  • Developer: Aspect Co
  • Release Date: 1996

Sonic Blast acted as the semi-sequel to 1995’s Sonic 3D Blast. While they both use the Blast title, this handheld version ditches all of the isometric puzzle-solving elements in favor of a more traditional side-scrolling Sonic title. There lies the problem for this game since the actual style and gameplay prove to be far too much for the Game Gear, which unfortunately isn’t fixed in the 3DS port.

24/25

Sonic Spinball

Sonic Spinball

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PC, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, iOS, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Wii
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Sega of America
  • Release Date: November 14, 1993

Pinball plus Sonic, obvious match right? Well, sort of, since Spinball comes out of the era when spin-off titles for Sonic were all the rage. The Sonic aesthetic wraps up the boards, the sprites are fun and charming and the rolling mechanics really do feel like Sonic. Unfortunately, the controls and layout of the maps are a bit frustrating, which holds back an otherwise impressive pinball title.

23/25

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: November 14, 2006

Remember that incredible demo for Sonic the Hedgehog ‘06? Remember how this game was nothing like this, had a strange romantic storyline between Sonic and a human princess, and was littered with bugs? Yeah, this game was rushed and did not live up to the hype, but being able to play it ironically is sort of a win right?

22/25

Shadow the Hedgehog

Shadow the Hedgehog

Image: Sega Studio USA

  • Platform(s): PS2, GameCube, Xbox
  • Developer: Sega Studio USA
  • Release Date: November 15, 2005

The pitch for this game was likely, we want Sonic but with guns, angst, and a choose your own adventure storyline. So, the obvious choice is to make Shadow the main protagonist in this loose sequel to Sonic Heroes that throws in a literal demon tempting Shadow to make bad decisions. It retains all of the jankiness of the early 2000s titles with little to make it stand out aside from the random choice to give a hedgehog an SMG.

21/25

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric

Image: Big Red Button

  • Platform(s): Wii U
  • Developer: Big Red Button
  • Release Date: November 11, 2014

A holistic attempt at rebooting the Sonic franchise, Sonic Boom has the makings of what could have been an interesting 3-D platformer. Semi-open world, diverse character abilities, entirely new storyline — but it fell prey to the Sega Christmas release window. What released was a broken, unoriginal, potentially unfinished title that killed the reboot before it got off the ground. But hey, at least we got the incredibly meta Sonic Boom TV series (seriously check it out).

20/25

Sonic and the Secret Rings

Sonic and the Secret Rings

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Nintendo Wii
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Now Production
  • Release Date: February 20, 2007

If you’ve ever played this Wii title, you can probably hear the booming theme music blaring in your head right now. The first of the Sonic Storybook series, Secret Rings broke the mold for Sonic games by providing a unique but quirky story about Sonic within the world of the Arabian Nights. What follows is a whole bunch of Wii-mote waggling, some unique motion-control mini-games, and frustrating collection-based levels. It’s worth watching the cutscenes but best left alone collecting dust in your closet along with your Wii-Fit Balance Board and matching fitness titles.

19/25

Sonic and the Black Knight

Sonic and the Black Knight

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Nintendo Wii
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: March 3, 2009

The second, and last, title in the Sonic Storybook series sees our favorite hedgehog visit the world of King Arthur to take down the prolific Black Knight. Injecting Sonic’s cast of characters into Arthurian legend, mixing up the level objectives, and introducing additional playable characters gave this game a leg up over Secret Rings. Other than that, this is still a very dated Wii title that’s best experienced through a cutscene compilation.

18/25

Sonic Heroes

Sonic Heroes

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PC, GameCube, PS2, Xbox
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: December 30, 2003

I have a soft spot for Sonic Heroes, even though it’s really not all that great. The concept of controlling multiple teams of Sonic characters through iterative versions of levels is interesting in theory. In practice, it’s repetitive, frustrating, and only amplified by the janky controls and buggy level design. It’s a somewhat iconic game in the series and was good for the time, but really does not hold up, especially on the PlayStation.

17/25

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Sonic Chronicles The Dark Brotherhood

Image: Bioware

  • Platform(s): Nintendo DS
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Release Date: September 25, 2008

A Sonic RPG made by Bioware. Let that sink in for a second. Yes, it’s odd and definitely a kids’ game, but it’s actually weirdly good. Thinking Super Mario RPG, but with a Sonic-specific twist and a whole lot of touch-based controls. It’s definitely a product of its time, but it showcases some of that original Bioware magic even if it’s not their best. 

16/25

Sonic Forces

Sonic Forces

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Hardlight
  • Release Date: November 7, 2017

The follow-up to Sonic Generations proved to be a major misstep. While the core gameplay is still solid, the decision to give you a buildable character with different abilities makes for a very unfocused game that lacks Sonic. Plus, randomly turning the characters into freedom fighters (comic-lore aside) felt like a wild left turn that is only aggravated by the strange “field mission” structure of the levels.

15/25

Sonic Riders / Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity

Sonic Riders

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PC, GameCube, PS2, Xbox / PS2, Wii
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Now Production
  • Release Date: 2006 / 2008

Sonic Riders and its sequel seemed to be an attempt to fill the void left by SSX. While not on that same level, the core racing gameplay is actually incredibly fun. It’s simple enough to pick up but includes a handful of nuanced skills that truly make you an expert. Throw in the grind to collect boards and unlock new challenges, and you have yourself an excellent racing game.

14/25

Sonic Rush / Sonic Rush Adventure

Sonic Rush

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Nintendo DS
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
  • Release Date: November 15, 2005

Sonic Rush is built around the gimmick of blending 2-D and 3-D on the DS. This means that it includes specific elements from the two-game types to create a title focused on exhilarating speed. Add in an excellent soundtrack and memorable boss encounters and you have a well-balanced Sonic game that’s only held back by the platform it’s stuck on.

13/25

Sonic Lost World

Sonic Lost World

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PC, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
  • Release Date: October 18, 2013

Sonic Lost World seems like it was designed as an answer to Mario Galaxy. The level design is made up of spheres, cubes, and other shapes, and the controls and physics are far looser than other Sonic titles. It’s a game that showed some potential for where Sonic could go, but it lacked the tight, well everything, that makes the Galaxy titles top-tier.

12/25

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, Wii, iOS, Android 
  • Developer: Sonic Team, M2, Backbone Entertainment, Ancient
  • Release Date: June 1991

The original Sonic the Hedgehog was created as SEGA’s answer to the growing landscape of colorful 2-D platformers. The hook with Sonic was that it was meant to be played faster, even if Sonic wasn’t all that fast really. It’s iconic and has influenced the rest of the series, but it doesn’t include many of the core elements of the series and isn’t the true breakout title for the Blue Blur.

11/25

Sonic Adventure

Sonic Adventure

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Dreamcast, GameCube, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Now Production 
  • Release Date: December 23, 1998

The first major 3-D Sonic game is maybe best remembered rather than played. While it did a lot for the Sonic formula, introducing new characters as well as the core spin dash and lock-on mechanics, it also set the standard for 3-D Sonic titles being broken. There is so much jank in this game, plus some hair-pulling mini-games (curse you Froggy) that unfortunately just hold this game back.

10/25

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Adventure 2

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Dreamcast, GameCube, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Sega Studio USA
  • Release Date: June 19, 2001

While it’s sort of a toss-up depending on who you ask, Sonic Adventure 2, in my opinion, edges out the original. The odd but relaxing Chao raising simulator, the much more iconic levels like the Radical Highway, and the far less frustrating gameplay for secondary characters are all steps in the right direction. It’s still janky and broken throughout but provides a much smoother and iconic experience.

9/25

Sonic Unleashed

Sonic Unleashed

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Wii, PS3, PS2, Xbox 360
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
  • Release Date: November 18, 2008

Sonic Unleashed is an overlooked gem in the series. It features some of the best and most challenging modern Sonic 3-D speed-based levels as well as a unique twist on what a Sonic platformer is thanks to the Warehog mechanics. Yes, it overstays its welcome and the story elements are a bit bland, but this game honestly deserves some love for being such a cohesive package that tools some risks.

8/25

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Sonic & All Star Racing

Image: Sumo Digital

  • Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iOS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Android
  • Developer: Sumo Digital
  • Release Date: November 16, 2012

The second game in the Sonic Racing series is the epitome of what makes a good kart racer. The expanded roster of Sega characters includes some deep cuts, the level design makes you want to uncover every nook and cranny, and the controls scream at you to become an expert. It’s a far more challenging racer that lands somewhere in between Mario Kart and Forza, which makes for an incredibly good time.

7/25

Sonic Colors

Sonic Colors

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo Switch, PS 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps, Blind Squirrel Games
  • Release Date: November 11, 2010

Sonic Colors was sort of a reset for the series. It focused purely on 2-D/3-D platforming leveraging Sonic’s speed but with a handful of unique powerups known as Wisps. It’s colorful, cheerful, and plays like classic Sonic with a few twists, and set the standard for what modern Sonic could and should be. It’s also set for a re-release in late 2021.

6/25

Sonic Advance / Sonic Advance 2 / Sonic Advance 3

Sonic Advance

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, Wii U
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
  • Release Date: 2001/ 2002 / 2004

Next on our Sonic games ranked is the the Sonic Advance series. This series brought a reimagined version of the original games to handheld devices. With a new art style reminiscent of the adventure series, multiple playable characters, and secrets and challenges galore, it truly represented the natural progression of the series. These are fun games worth finding that really fine-tune the original mechanics.

5/25

Sonic CD

Sonic CD

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Sega CD, Android, PC, iOS, PS3, Xbox 360, GameCube, PS2
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Blitzworks
  • Release Date: September 23, 1993

Sonic CD had the misfortune of being relegated to a platform that no one adopted. However, thanks to a slew of ports, many would find this to be a fine-tuned version of the original Sonic sidescrollers with a time-traveling mechanic to boot. It serves as one of the best showcases of the 16-bit era, with just enough new ideas to set it apart from the first few titles among the Sonic games ranked.

4/25

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, Wii, iOS, Android 
  • Developer: Sonic Team, M2, Backbone Entertainment
  • Release Date: November 21, 1992

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, solidified what the Sonic series is. It introduced Tails as a helper character. Knuckles as an additional antagonist. Revamped the Chaos Emeralds mini-game, secrets, and final Super Sonic bonus. Plus, it features some truly iconic locations like Chemical Plant Zone and Casino Night Zone. It’s better than the original and would influence the series moving forward.

3/25

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS
  • Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
  • Release Date: November 1, 2011

Sonic Generations embraced nostalgia for 3-D Sonic, by creating a best-of playlist of iconic Sonic levels that’s better than the source material. It perfectly blends sidescrolling and 3-D platforming to create a fast-paced and challenging game that you can breeze through at the same time. In many ways, it felt like the turning point among the 3-D sonic games ranked, which unfortunately have yet to recapture the magic of this game.

2/25

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Image: Sonic Team

  • Platform(s): Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, Wii, iOS, Android
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: October 7, 1994

Sonic & Knuckles was originally an add-on for Sonic 3, but the whole game together serves as the best of the original 2-D series. The art, music, level design, and introduction of Knuckles as a pliable character truly set this game apart. In many ways, it serves as the epitome of what is so good about the first few Sonic games, while providing a glimpse of what would come with the 3-D titles. In short, if you plan on playing an original 2-D Sonic title, play this one.

1/25

Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania

Image: Sega

  • Platform(s): PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Amazon Luna
  • Developer: Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PadogaWest Games, SEGA of America
  • Release Date: August 15, 2017

At a time when Sonic games were at their lowest, Sonic Mania emerged as a beacon of hope. A love letter to classic Sonic, this 2-D sidescroller plays better than anything that came before. Simultaneously nostalgic, innovative, and unique, it fine-tunes the mechanics of Sonic platforming to create captivating sidescrolling action and far more challenging boss encounters. This is simply the best among the Sonic games ranked and well worth playing whether you’re a seasoned Sonic player or new to the franchise.

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Fred Reed

Don’t forget Team Sonic Racing released in 2019 I believe on PS4 and XBox the graphics and gameplay are good, although it lacks the track and character choice of All Stars Racing Transformed which was as good as Mario Kart in my view. But is still a good game. Looking forward to Sonic Frontiers in late 2022, which is going to be an open world Sonic game.


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