Sonic the Hedgehog has become somewhat of a controversial character over the years. Introduced in the early 90’s, he was SEGA’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario. SEGA had tried to put forth a cooler, edgier image and Sonic was the icing on the cake. He quickly rose to stardom becoming quite possibly the most popular company mascot since Mickey Mouse. Alas, that would not last forever.
In recent years, Sonic became something of a joke, thanks in part to some seriously lackluster entries in his games. There are various people who will tell you that the decline of Sonic began with his transition to 3D, but in that regard I heartily disagree. While I agree that Sonic Heroes and Sonic 2006 were definitely a low point for Sonic, Sonic Unleashed began his return to form. Sadly, Unleashed was “cursed” with the abominably bad Werehog levels. Still, the foundations of the Sonic levels were solid and even fun. They also established the foundations for what would be some of the best Sonic games in a long time, Generations and Colors.
Still, to further reinforce the idea that Sonic 3D is a good thing, I believe the Adventure series stand as my favorite and quite possibly the best all-around Sonic games ever made. True, the running portions lack some of the polish of Generations, but they also allow for a greater level of freedom and require some more skill to manage. Yes, you’re forced to play as other characters, but each of those offer some truly enjoyable gameplay mechanics, with a notable exception here and there *cough*Amy Rose*cough*.
Add to these the innovative A-Life system as well. Something unfortunately not revisited in more recent games. Where you raise small beings known as Chao’s and in the Dreamcast days could even take them with you as portable games. You can teach them things, mutate them, even battle and race them. It was truly endless hours of Tamagotchi style fun.
Then there is what is easily one of (if not the best) Sonic Soundtracks with great opening themes like Open Your Heart and Live and Learn. Sonic’s theme has stuck around, though changing a bit over time, is still great and fits him perfectly. Some fun tunes like Pumpkin Hill which, while corny, were immensely catchy.
Still, I think the best way to express how awesome these games are to show it. So I’ve embedded for your viewing pleasure some gameplay representing the awesomeness of these games. Both games are currently available on XBLA, Steam and PSN, so there’s no excuse not to have played such classic and epic entries in the series. Maybe SEGA will someday look back at these and take some of the awesome elements and put them back into future games. Generations was a gem, but there’s still so much more potential for Sonic to once again be the massively amazing mascot he once was to so many.