Yes, it’s another tenuous entry. But again, we don’t have a lot to work with, so it was unavoidable that at least one of last decade’s best Sonic games would be a compilation of his greatest offerings from the ‘90s. Ultimate Genesis contains the original three Sonic the Hedgehog games (released on various platforms on an almost annual basis), plus Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Spinball. The weakest would be Spinball, and even it’s better than most modern entries.
Above: Let’s bring up how great the first game is again
In true whoring fashion, there aren’t just multiple Sonic games. There are also multiple compilations that collect handfuls of worthwhile Sonic games and spread them across several platforms and discs. Ultimate Genesis Collection is by far the best, if only because the rest of the content is mostly top-notch Sega stuff, like all four Phantasy Stars, three entries from the Shining series and one-offs like Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon.
Above: Sonic 2, the first appearance of Tails
The only thing missing is the stellar Sonic CD, which is found on Sonic Gems Collection. Too bad the rest of Gems is a bunch of junk, like Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R. So, as far as collections go, Ultimate Genesis is the one to get, and that sadly makes it one of the best Sonic options of the past 10 years.
Stupidness that managed to find its way in:
There is nothing stupid about this vinyl edition of six classic Sega songs, released to help promote the game in Australia and New Zealand. It’s also quite admirable that one was auctioned off for charity. But it’s downright dumb that the disc was never made widely available, as Sega fans are the exact kind of rabid hoarders that would kill for something like this. Well, at least we got the Marvel vs Capcom 2 record, right?
3 – Sonic Chronicles (2008)
An amazing gamble that completely paid off, Sonic Chronicles took the tired, well-worn characters of the Sonic universe and dropped them into a gripping RPG designed by the experts at BioWare. Yes, the developer that brought us Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Jade Empire found a way to make not just a good Sonic game, but also a template for a whole new subseries.
Above: I promise it’s better than it looks here
BioWare is known for its talky, dialog-heavy adventures, so they managed to make interactions between Sonic, Tails, Cream, Big, Shadow and the rest of the menagerie feel… not great, but fitting enough to keep you moving on. The breakthrough was the battle system, which gave each character a strategic niche to fill. Even if you hated certain characters in the past (Big the Cat, maybe?), you ended up nurturing a newfound fondness for them in terms of combat usefulness. I think Shadow is a ridiculous addition to the Sonic world, but in Chronicles he was indispensible. Naturally, BioWare intended this from the beginning:
Above: Shit, he was right!
I’m not about to say BioWare crafted an epic space-faring Sonic story on par with Mass Effect. That’s just not possible. But it did take Sega’s lemons and made a bitchin’ batch of lemonade, creating a game that was strong enough on its own merits that it convinced this jaded, former Sonic lover to get over his “durrr Sonic” hump and just enjoy the damn game. Plus I absolutely loved the music.
Above: One of three different battle tunes that kept fighting fresh
Stupidness that managed to find its way in:
I wouldn’t place the story very high on the list of notable accomplishments, but what little interest I had was kinda shot to hell in the ending. Turns out Robotnik was evil all along (yawn) and has double-crossed Sonic and the team. Sonic and Tails then proceed to have a conversation about how tense the ending was, how we’ll have to wait for the next game and, finally, start naming off everyone from the development team while in character. A weird, universe-breaking end.
Up next: the best two Sonic games of the past 10 years!
GamesRadar is the premiere source for everything that matters in the world of video games. Casual or core, console or handheld - whatever systems you own or whatever genres you love, GamesRadar is there to filter out what's worth your time and to help you get even more from your games. We deliver the best advice, the most in-depth features, expert reviews, and the essential guides for all the top games.