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Who Makes the Best Sonic the Hedgehog Games?

More than a dozen different developers have tried their hand at creating Sonic's adventures, but all Sonic games are definitely not created equal. Whose are best? Consider the facts and weigh in!

Profile by Jeremy Parish, .

Sega has lifted the veil on Sonic Boom, the next entry in the ever-growing Sonic the Hedgehog saga, and it's full of brawling, athletic tape, wild jungle badgers, and rampant steroid abuse.

But the most important change that Sonic Boom brings to the table is the arrival of another developer to the expansive stable of game companies who have worked on Sonic. The Wii U version of Sonic Boom comes to us courtesy of Big Red Button (not to be mistaken for the GameCube controller, which had a little red button), while Sanzaru (of recent Sly Cooper adventures fame) has taken the honors on the 3DS release.

Watch: An in-depth summary of Sonic's complex parentage.

Through the years, more than a dozen different studios have created Sonic games — some internally at Sega, but many, like Big Red Button and Sanzaru, are outside contractors. All told, more different developers have had their hands on Sonic than on Mario and Zelda combined. That's a lot!

So who makes the best Sonic games? Not all developers are created equal, and neither are the games they create. We've dug through the entire history of the Sonic series to highlight more a dozen developers who have worked on the "blue blur's" adventures over the years. Check out our video analysis and weigh in with your opinion. Who takes top honors? We've presented the facts; you provide the opinion.


For reference, here's a quick rundown of all the studios and games covered in the video above.

Sonic Team (1st Party era)

Sonic the Hedgehog [Genesis], Sonic Eraser [Meganet], Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Genesis, codeveloped with STI], Sonic CD [Sega CD], Sonic 3 [Genesis, codeveloped with STI], Sonic & Knuckles [Genesis, codeveloped with STI], Knuckles' Chaotix [32X], Sonic Jam [Saturn], Sonic Adventure [Dreamcast], Sonic Shuffle [Dreamcast, codeveloped with Hudson], Sonic Adventure 2 [Dreamcast]

Sega's other internal studios

SegaSonic the Hedgehog [Arcade, Sega AM3 Division], SegaSonic Cosmo Fighter [Arcade], Sonic the Fighters [Arcade, Sega AM2 Division], Sonic Drift [Game Gear], Tails Sky Patrol [Game Gear, SIMS], Sonic Drift 2 [Game Gear], Sonic Labyrinth [Game Gear, Minato Giken], Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Sonic Jump [Mobile, Hardlight], Sonic Dash [Mobile, Hardlight], Sonic Jump Fever [Mobile, Hardlight]

Ancient

Sonic the Hedgehog [Master System]

Aspect

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Master System], Sonic Chaos [Master System], Sonic Triple Trouble [Game Gear], Tails Adventure [Game Gear], Sonic Blast [Game Gear]

Sonic Team (3rd Party era)

Sonic Pinball Party [GBA], Sonic Battle [GBA], Sonic Heroes [Multi], Sega Superstars [PS2], Shadow the Hedgehog [Multi], Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) [Multi], Sonic Riders [Multi], Sonic and the Secret Rings [Wii], Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity [Wii/PS2], Sonic Unleashed [Multi], Sonic and the Black Knight [Wii], Sonic Colors [Wii], Sonic Free Riders [Multi], Sonic Generations [Multi], Sonic Lost World [Wii]

Sega Technical Institute

Sonic 2 [Genesis, codeveloped with Sonic Team], Sonic 3 [Genesis, codeveloped with Sonic Team], Sonic & Knuckles [Genesis, codeveloped with Sonic Team], Sonic Spinball [Genesis]

Dimps

Sonic Pocket Adventure [NGPC], Sonic Advance [GBA], Sonic Advance 2 [GBA], Sonic Advance 3 [GBA], Sonic Rush [DS], Sonic Rush Adventure [DS], Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I [Multi, codeveloped with Sonic Team], Sonic Colors [DS], Sonic Generations [3DS], Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II [Multi, codeveloped with Sonic Team], Sonic Lost World [3DS]

Traveller's Tales

Sonic 3D Blast [Genesis], Sonic R [Saturn]

BioWare

Sonic Chronicles [DS]

Compile

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine [GEN]

Backbone Entertainment

Sonic Rivals [PSP], Sonic Rivals 2 [PSP]

Sumo Digital

Sega Superstars Tennis [Multi], Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing [Multi], Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed [Multi]

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Comments 26

  • Avatar for Stealth20k #1 Stealth20k 2 years ago
    Bioware made the best Sonic game.....COME AT ME PEOPLE.
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  • Avatar for pashaveliki #2 pashaveliki 2 years ago
  • Avatar for pashaveliki #3 pashaveliki 2 years ago
    Looking at that list, I gotta go with Dimps (which surprises even me.)
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  • Avatar for megamanfan1500 #4 megamanfan1500 2 years ago
    (love the "write an insightful comment" message, lol) I'm gonna go with The original Sonic Team as the best, hands down with Dimps a close, CLOSE second. Seriously, everyone who complains about the more recent console offerings should really give some of Dimp's handheld works a shot.
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  • Avatar for pashaveliki #5 pashaveliki 2 years ago
    @shawnellis46 Sonic Team deserves credit for creating the 2D Sonic template, but I really think Dimps is the team that perfected 2D Sonic (and 2D Sonic is the best Sonic).
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #6 CK20XX 2 years ago
    For me, it's Sega Technical Institute, no contest. They're the real reasons the series rose to such acclaim in the first place, after all. Sonic Team was just the face in the end; STI was where the brains and the aptitude were.

    Dimps COULD have been the next STI, maybe, because they made Sonic Pocket Adventure and Sonic Advance. But then they made Sonic Advance 2, the game where all you have to do is hold right until the end of the level, and they've since become infamous for an overemphasis on speed leading to cheap hits, unfair deaths, and generally bad game design all around. There's even a Sonic 2: Dimps Edition ROM hack making fun of all their trademark flaws.

    No, for my runner-up, I'd have to choose... Sumo Digital, actually. If you've ever wanted to see a Sonic game that up and challenges Mario's dominance again just like the olden days, then the Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing series may make you never want to play Mario Kart again.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #7 Funny_Colour_Blue 2 years ago
    @pashaveliki I agree,

    Not only was Sonic Advance 2 extremely well animated, but the advance series expands upon a lot of ideas introduced in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Like the "running" Boss Battle with Robotnik before the Final Zone or this idea of simultaneous cooperative play with Tails.

    I mean, they may not be as great as the originals. Sure, okay, fine. I get that.

    But they truly do feel like "sequels" in their own right because they explore and expand on the game mechanics that were first introduced from the previous entries released on the Genesis.
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  • Avatar for pashaveliki #8 pashaveliki 2 years ago
    @lonecow Sonic 2 and Sonic CD are way way better than Sonic 1.
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  • Avatar for ob1 #9 ob1 2 years ago
    Sonic Team 1rst party era. Not a single doubt.
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  • Avatar for Corran123 #10 Corran123 2 years ago
    The last few games made by Sonic Team were surprisingly good. Sonic Colors is a fun little platformer with a catchy soundtrack and Lost World is also heavily underrated.
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  • Avatar for Architecture #11 Architecture 2 years ago
    Sonic Team under the direction of Yuji Naka at the Sega Technical Institute.
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  • Avatar for danger.to.others #12 danger.to.others 2 years ago
    Wow, only one other mention of Sonic CD? It is by far the best Sonic and plays great even today, which can't be said about many of the other titles that aged bad fast.
    Hell, the Sonic Adventure titles aged bad within 24 hours of release. I believe that's a new speed record.

    Sonic CD runs rings around all others.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #13 benjaminlu86 2 years ago
    Trick question; they're all bad.










    Except Sonic 2.
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  • Avatar for tsamba #14 tsamba 2 years ago
    I think that the video showing Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1 during the sections not about a specific developer says it all. That's the pinnacle of Sonic. The first 10 minutes of the first game.

    Will have to give the Dimps games a closer look though. I know people joke that Sonic games are press right to win, but at least in the first one that's not actually the case. But video I've seen of Sonic Rush really makes it look like all you're doing is pushing right.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #15 CK20XX 2 years ago
    @benjaminlu86 Ouch, that's harsher than even my views! Could we compromise and say that Sonic 2 with Sonic 3's elemental shields is the best game in the series?
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  • Avatar for sean697 #16 sean697 2 years ago
    I am going with original Sonic team. The first 5 games were the best for their time. And have th best level design. Also from what I understand. STI had little to do with Sonic 3. Apparently the original Sonic team guys did most of the work and used very little STI programmers, as opposed to 2 which was more of a collaboration. They understood most that Sonic is only superficially a game about speed, and is really a game about physics and momentum, with speed being one of the ways to affect those two.

    For modern Sonics I own a lot but strangely have not been able to force myself to seriously play them. So far what I played of Generations is good. But Sumo Didgital wins here. Sonic and Sega all star racing transformed is far better than it has any right to be. I still haven't played enough of Mario Kart 8 yet to make a final decision, but it might be better than Mario Kart 8. It certainly does some things better.

    The GBA sonics (Dimps?) were the next best here. They were pretty faithful to the 16 bit formula although somehow managing to me epic enough in spirit, just miss the mark on gameplay.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #17 metalangel 2 years ago
    Sonic CD was the best game, followed closely by Sonic 2 (Genesis).
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  • Avatar for pennybags #18 pennybags 2 years ago
    In order, Sonic Tech, Sonic Team (1st), Sonic Team (3rd), although it's hard to choose because they're all chock-full of good games.Edited June 2014 by pennybags
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  • Avatar for orient #19 orient 2 years ago
    I'm surprised at the praise given to Sonic 2 for GG/SMS -- I completed it recently on 3DS VC and it's a bad game, especially when compared to the excellent Sonic 1.

    STI made the best Sonic game, Sonic 2. I got out my Mega Drive last week and played some Sonic & Knuckles for comparison, and the first thing I noticed: the levels in S&K are twice as long -- I'm talking 4 or 5 minutes a piece -- and can feel like a real chore to complete. Feels very copy/paste and unnecessarily bloated compared to the first two games.

    I think they thought the new power-ups added enough complexity to the game to justify longer levels, but not so in my opinion. I find the level design in Sonic 2 to be far superior.
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  • Avatar for Toelkki #20 Toelkki 2 years ago
    Sonic: Lost World isn't on Wii but Wii U. (This reminds me of the retailers not knowing the difference between the two systems.)

    If Sonic Team (3rd party era) had done only Colours, Unleashed, Generations and Lost World, I'd pick them. But Secret Rings, Black Knight? Ehgg. I've never played Sonic 2006, so I'll ignore that.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #21 benjaminlu86 2 years ago
    @CK20XX Sonic 3 is acceptable. Sonic 1 lacked spindash and is therefore bullshit.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #22 CK20XX 2 years ago
    @benjaminlu86 May I ask, out of curiosity, why you think 3 & Knuckles isn't as good as 2? 2 took what 1 started and perfected it, so it deserves all the praise it gets, but 3 added new power-ups, the Insta-Shield that allows for fantastic precision feats, an activation trigger for Super Sonic so you often don't end up transforming when you don't want to, and it handled water sections the best by making them shorter, yet more frequent, instead of just dumping them all into a Labyrinth Zone or something. Those features always make 3 more appealing than 2 for me, even though its levels push the 10-minute time limit too much.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #23 benjaminlu86 2 years ago
    @CK20XX Mostly nostalgia reasons, nothing based on something as solid as facts. The daisy-chaining cartridge was dope as shit though.
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  • Avatar for pennybags #24 pennybags 2 years ago
    @Toelkki Sonic 2006 is way underrated. Secret Rings was genuinely awful. Black Knight wasn't really good but it was way better than Secret Rings.
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  • Avatar for FanBoysSuck #25 FanBoysSuck 2 years ago
    I'd go with STI by quite a margin as I consider Sonic 3 & Knuckles to be the greatest platformer ever.
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