The Best Gaming Franchises of All Time: Sonic The Hedgehog


Have you ever wished you could run superfast? But not just fast – blazingly, ridiculously fast? Of course, you have – you are a gamer. 

And therefore, it’s no surprise that you have either enjoyed a Sonic game or know someone who has enjoyed turning into a ball and dashing through the Green Hill Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog has been through a lot in the nearly three decades he’s been running around. He’s fought moustache-twirling villains, made funky friends, and even survived a few clunky games.

Today, we will be taking a look at the storied legacy of gaming’s favorite hedgehog. Let us begin.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – Sega Genesis, 1992

retro gaming with Sonic The Hedgehog 2It took Sonic just one game to become a superstar. For the follow-up, all the developers needed to do was more of what worked – more stages, more characters, more bosses and more death-defying stunts at breakneck speed.

And boy does Sonic The Hedgehog 2 deliver. The 16-bit power of the Sega Genesis is on full display here. It is also notable for introducing one of the series’ most lovable characters – Tails, a cute fox who is like a sidekick to Sonic. You can also choose to play as tails if you want to.

Sonic’s iconic Spin Dash move was also introduced here, letting you rev up to max speed in no time to go flying past obstacles. The level design perfectly complements the acrobatics, with hidden areas and verticality to really give you the feel of blazing across a landscape.

Sonic & Knuckles – Sega Genesis, 1994

Today, it is common for developers to include extra pieces of content and gameplay as downloadable DLCs. But before this was ever a thing, Sonic & Knuckles was remarkable for having a variety of unlockables depending upon which Sonic cartridge you were using with the game. This “physical DLC” might sound like a gimmick, but it certainly delighted gamers who were discovering new ways to play through Sonic 2 and 3.

Sonic and Knuckles added a lot of new levels to Knuckles’ section in the game and kept fans interested until they finally made a switch to the Sega Saturn.

Sonic The Hedgehog 3 – Sega Genesis, 1994

The Sonic series has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but arguably the best series of games in the franchise happened around the 16-bit console generation. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 is one of the best games in the golden age of the franchise.

Building on the massive popular Sonic 2, Sonic 3 presented fans with much more character variety, creative level design, more bosses and ways to sprint through a colorful landscape. It’s sort of like a mashup of the best things about the first two games with a generous dash of fresh content to keep gamers spinning.

Sonic Adventure – Sega Dreamcast, 1999

Sonic AdventureAfter playing through Sonic Adventure, it felt like Sonic was meant to be experienced in 3D, which is a huge credit to the development team. This original Dreamcast adventure still looks and plays well and is a fantastic jumping-on point for people who aren’t familiar with sonic.

Controlling a character who basically is a cannonball would prove to be a challenge throughout the early days of Sonic, but Sega really nailed the controls for Sonic Adventure. It was a far cry from Sonic 3D Blast, which is a game that Sonic fans like to pretend never existed.

Sonic The Hedgehog – Sega Genesis, 1991

This is the game that started it all. In hindsight, it might seem obvious to gamers why Sonic works as a character. But there were a massive amount of risks Sega was taking with a new character and a completely new style of gameplay.

Sonic’s high-flying style required a massive amount of screen rendering to make it feel like you were traveling at an almost uncontrollable place. Sonic The Hedgehog does a lot of things remarkably well, and it is a game that holds up even today.

Establishing the zippiness of the character and establishing a gameplay style that rewarded repeat plays with extras and secrets is a landmark achievement in game design, especially considering the primitive technology of the time. Sonic’s levels were punishing, and landing on an errant crab or spike to see all of your coins float away into the ether was painful, but in a fun way that made you want to play through the level again to clear it perfectly.

Sonic CD – Sega CD, 1993

Sonic CDIf you were one of the lucky few to own a Sega CD in 1993, you probably heard about Sonic CD. If you didn’t, you missed out on Sonic CD – one of the most underrated fun games in the Sonic series.

Sonic CD was unique because it introduced a time-travel mechanic that allowed you to warp back and forth through time. The game utilizes perspective uniquely and is really one of the best 2D platformers of its era.

So that concludes our retrospective of the fastest fur ball in gaming history. What’s your favorite Sonic game? Do you have a record time you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments. Until next time, happy gaming!  Make sure to follow our trip through some of the best gaming franchises of all time.  

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Friday, 09 June 2023