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Which version of Sonic is the best version of Sonic?

Sonic 2 Beta (unreleased)
While Sonic 3 saw a total redraw, Sonic 2 looks just like the original at first glance. However, as seen in early screenshots of the game and uncovered by ROM hackers, there was another complete set of Sonic sprites in Sonic 2, dropped in favour of the version we know and love.

His head is shinier and his eyes more pronounced. He's also running with his arms higher and farther back - probably to make way for the artsy swirl that replaces his legs. Perhaps it didn't look like a natural pose... although quite how anyone can say what the posture of a blue hedgehog running at supersonic speeds would look is beyond us.


Above: A magazine image from the Sonic 2 Beta - Sonic looks different

Sonic Jam
The 3D 'Sonic World' section of Sonic Jam on Saturn was basically Sonic Team testing out Sonic in a 3D environment to see if he worked. The answer was a definitive YES.

Sonic looked brilliant in chunky 3D and he still had his attitude intact. He also had sublime analogue control thanks to NiGHTS pad compatibility, though he didn't actually run that fast and never even attempted a loop-de-loop. Crucially, he was still mute. Does that image need a voice with it to let you know what he's thinking?

We can understand why Sega chose to make his stages in Sonic Adventure on Dreamcast so damn fast - the new hardware needed a showcase game and Sonic was it. But if only we'd had a full Saturn Sonic game using this engine... it would have been amazing.

Sonic 1 (GameGear)
This Sonic was redrawn to better fit the smaller screen of Sega's battery-thirsty handheld. We like him a lot, probably because he leans slightly forward when he runs, compared to the straight-backed Master System version. Yes, we really are going that detailed on this.

He seems to sit better in the environment too, not only because the fuzzy screen blurs his outline, but because his movement feels less arcadey than the bolder Master System version. It's a pity Sonic 2 went with the Master System sprite instead of continuing with this one. Sadly, we only ever knew this Sonic for one game. Sniff.


Above: Game Gear Sonic is better than Master System Sonic. Fact

Sonic CD
While some of Sonic CD's animations may be clunky (such as the rotating spring jump), the whole look of the game was exactly how next-gen Sonic should have looked. That stylised figure-8 ribbon instead of feet appears when Sonic's at top speed, which we love.

However (and this might just be because we've been looking at Sonic for hours), we can see a turning point here. Think about it - what else can you add to the character without redesigning him completely? A new sprite for Sonic 3 (this game's immediate successor) meant a new art style, which changed the feel of the games. This is the original Sonic sprite's final, most evolved state - and it's awesome.


And so we come to our favourite. Sadly we just don't feel the same love of 3D Sonic as we do for his 2D self. And every new version of the sprite seems to take something away, rather than add to it. So while this all points to Sonic 1, we're actually going with Sonic 2.

Above: You were never meant to see him this close up. Pixel-tastic!

The artwork is refined rather than reworked, the character movement is similar yet even faster, and he's totally uncluttered by special shields and super uber moves. The Spin Dash remains the only addition to Sonic's moveset that genuinely enhanced the experience. He doesn't talk, yet there's so much expression in his little pixelly face. Ladies and gentlemen: the ultimate Sonic.

What's your favourite and least-favourite Sonic? Let us know in the comments, then check back on Friday when we'll be giving Mario the same treatment.

01 April 09

The greatest Sonic game we never got to play
We talk to the designer of the one that got away

 

The best Sonic moments of all time
Cheesy video alert! This'll make it all better

 

Sonic's retro classics re-reviewed
Nine vintage side-scrollers, ten definitive verdicts. Yes, we can count


 

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62 comments

  • Monkey - April 1, 2009 11:53 a.m.

    Sorry people I have to...First. Sonic 2 FTW
  • deathrebellion - April 1, 2009 2:02 p.m.

    i must say sonic wuz at his best in 2D and my 2D favs r - Sonic CD and Sonic Advance and his best 3D appearences has to be in Soinc Unleashed (Hedgehog not the Werehog) but the Werehog wuzn't the worst in appearence u guys just hate him cuz he became slow strechy and came out in the worst Sonic Game yet. U guys also 4got to add the Golden Sonic (the one where he absorbs all the chaos emralds. i can't quite recall his actual name now) and i just Knew u guys wud give Mario the same treatment when i read the 1st line of this Feature (^^)
  • ClusterShart - April 1, 2009 2:03 p.m.

    I loved the redraw for Sonic 1, on the iPod. Am I the only one that played it?
  • Camoxide - April 1, 2009 2:50 p.m.

    Sonic advanced. Somehow Sonic Heroes took a step back in graphics...
  • SuperBadnik - April 1, 2009 3:55 p.m.

    I thought he looked best in Sonic the Hedgehog(2006) despite game being a bit mediocure.
  • Necron - April 1, 2009 6:10 p.m.

    I like both Sonic 2 and 3 renditions. Sonic was just meant to be 2D it seems. Recaptcha: Privates could, LOL!!!
  • animeman - April 1, 2009 6:28 p.m.

    I like the Sonic from SSBB the best or any other 3D Sonic.
  • Evey - April 1, 2009 8:45 p.m.

    Is it just me, or does the Sonic for Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, look like his pupils are way too big. He looks stoned.
  • ThunderMuffinsMcgee - April 1, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    sonic 2 is teh pwn! ^_^
  • Pocotron - April 1, 2009 11:06 p.m.

    I think reCAPTCHAs are the new thing. Apparently, I'm "in Louise"
  • stupididiot7 - April 2, 2009 1:47 a.m.

    Sonic Unleashed!
  • Superwes - April 2, 2009 10:39 a.m.

    I like the Super Smash Bros. the best, he seems the most defined.
  • Blash - April 2, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    Sonic CDs my favorite 2D one, nothing beats the pale blue Sonic IMO. I can't decide which 3D Sonic I like best though, it's between 2006 or Unleashed.
  • SuperStingray - April 2, 2009 8:32 p.m.

    In terms of character design, I prefer his appearance in Sonic Unleashed. (Not the Werehog form, mind you.) His personality was evident and he looks very sleek and aerodynamic.
  • thochaos - April 3, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    I also think the Sonic 2 sprite is the best.
  • supersupersuperguy - April 3, 2009 1:49 a.m.

    Haters. Anyways, yeah, those Sonics you chose to be in "The Best" section are good, BUT I noticed they're all 2D. I LIKE 3D Sonic.
  • kennym - April 3, 2009 11:34 a.m.

    sonic adventure 2 or sonic unleashed version are the best I think
  • SilverJazz - April 3, 2009 2:10 p.m.

    Though I think that sonic looks better in Brawl by far to date to be honest he was best in Sonic 2 on the Sega Genesis
  • SuperStingray - April 4, 2009 5:22 a.m.

    The Werehog WAS a dumb idea, but I don't think it fits here. It may be Sonic, but it's not Sonic's natural form. If your going to include the Werehog, you should include all Super Sonics, Hyper Sonic, Darkspine Sonic and Golden Knight Sonic as well. :P
  • Picnic1 - April 5, 2009 11:10 a.m.

    Sonic started to lose his looks after Sonic CD. NiGHTS was probably partially to blame- they accentuated his spikes, giving him a harlequin look. They also started to make him skinnier than the satisying sprite of old. The older version are balanced just right in proportions to convincingly look like a round ball when spinning. Compare the very first shot of Sonic finger waving on the first Sonic the hedgehog, a look of assured confidence on his face, to the gaunt gangster wannabe of later incarnations.

Showing 1-20 of 62 comments

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