Last week, I counted down my top 10 favorite games in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in anticipation for the release of Sonic 4 Episode 2. I had high hopes for Episode 2, and while it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it is still a decent entry in the series. For my full thoughts on Sonic 4 Episode 2, check out my review. The Sonic series has taken a turn for the better over the last several years, ending an extended period of time that saw many of the worst Sonic games and most of the following games were released during that time. These are what I consider to be the Top 10 Worst Sonic the Hedgehog Games.
10. Sonic CD (1993)
I will probably get a lot of hate for this one, but I detest Sonic CD. I despise it more than any other game on this list, but objectively it isn’t the worst, though it is still bad. For the life of me, I have no idea how anyone can consider this game good, let alone the people that consider this game the best Sonic game ever made. The real problem with this game is the level design. The genesis Sonic games have such thoughtful level design, with branching paths and clear difficulty versus speed split. The games had a very clear “speed as a reward” design that is not present at all in Sonic CD. The levels look like someone just took a bunch of platforms and placed them randomly in a level. The levels have no flow, no clear pattern, and are convoluted and incoherent. As bad as the level design is, the core gameplay is sound, mainly because it is based off the genesis games, which is why this game makes the list at number 10 instead of number 1. I make it clear with every top list that these are my opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion in regards to my picks, but if you think Sonic CD is the best Sonic game, you’re wrong.
9. Sonic Heroes (2004)
For all intents and purposes, Sonic Heroes is Sonic Adventure 3, and it fails to up to the previous 2. I have fond memories of both Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, but looking back they both have a whole host of problems, but Sonic Heroes has even more. It uses the same game engine as the Adventure games, and like those, it has serious performance issues. It feels very unpolished, and the controls don’t seem quite right. The biggest issue with the game though, are all the new characters. The biggest thing that held back the adventure games for me were all the supplementary characters like Big the Cat and Rouge that really bring those games down. Sonic Heroes goes way further this time, with so many annoying and pointless characters being added, with each team of annoying character getting their own campaigns. Like the Adventure games, the Sonic campaign (this time in a team with Tails and Knuckles) is by far the best, with the others ranging from bad to atrocious.
8. Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)
Sonic and the Secret Rings was the entry in the “storybook series” of Sonic games which would appear exclusively on the Wii. Interestingly, this game had some decent ideas which would be expanded upon in later games like Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors, and Sonic Generations. While this game may be somewhat responsible for the positive direction of current Sonic games, viewed on it’s own, it’s not a very good game. The elements of this game that influenced future games were primarily the speed focused stages, but the fatal flaw of this game was the on-rails nature of the gameplay. There has been an ongoing joke about Sonic games nearly playing themselves, but this game pretty much did. Sonic was constantly moving forward, with the player only really having to worry about avoiding obstacles. The story is also completely ridiculous, even by Sonic standards, which was basically a re-telling of Arabian nights with Sonic characters playing all the roles.
7. Sonic The Fighters (1996)
Sonic The Fighters was an arcade only 3D tournament fighter starring Sonic characters. Most people probably never played it in arcades, but it was released as part of “Sonic Gems Collection” released last generation. The game had very clunky controls and was just a poor 3D fighting game. It didn’t help that the game came out when even good fighting games series like Mortal Kombat were struggling to transition to 3D.
6. Sonic R (1997)
During the transition from the Genesis to the Saturn, fans were eagerly awaiting the next great Sonic game. Unfortunately, we would have to wait until the Dreamcast came out for the next actual Sonic game, with the Saturn only getting Sonic R. Sonic R is a Sonic themed racing game, but unlike most racing games, there were no vehicles in this game. Now, it makes sense that Sonic would not need a vehicle to race, but it doesn’t make for the most compelling gameplay. The controls were the real problem here, with characters controlling somewhat like cars, but not quite. With better controls, the game could have been decent, but it failed to meet this potential.