Over three decades of Sonic—and the first ever Sonic movie—these are the best titles Sega ever made.
There have been so many terrible Sonic games. So many. Sonic Boom. Sonic the Hedgehog from 2006, where he had a human girlfriend. Sonic Labyrinth, the game that dared to ask the question: What if Sonic couldn’t run fast? Year after year, the Sonic Team has debuted a new title that promises to re-ignite the nearly 30-year brand. But unlike Mario, Solid Snake, Donkey Kong, and even Tetris, the fast-running hedgehog seems doomed to an eternal climb on the steep hill of cultural relevance, like Sisyphus with spiky blue hair. They just can’t seem to get him right.
Sonic games aren’t always bad, though. Once every fifth or sixth game in the dozens of titles that Sega has released since 1991, Sonic manages to remind us why he’s stuck around for so long. Sure, most of the best offerings from the franchise hail from its earliest days—when the high-speed platforming still felt new—but with the release of the old-school yet self-assured Sonic Mania in 2017, Sega proved to the gaming industry that its iconic mascot deserved more than just a Hall of Fame nod in the Smash Bros. roster. After all these years, the spunky little blue guy could still work.
The best proof of Sonic’s enduring, albeit bizarre, cultural relevance is the Sonic the Hedgehog movie that’s debuting this weekend. We never ask for more Sonic, but Sega gives it to us anyway. Based on early reviews, it looks like the film isn’t half bad. Maybe a new era of great Sonic games is upon us. Probably not.