Back in 1991, Naoto Oshima and Yuji Naka created Sonic to be Sega’s very own marquee mascot, a big-eyes Super Mario for a new decade of neon nerf footballs and aggressively weird Nickelodeon cartoons. And like any successful mascot, Sonic would go on to star in dozens of spinoffs, comic books, a few different cartoon shows, and so much more. The series' quality lately is such that it's been more successful as a meme generator, but there's no denying how ubiquitous Sonic is to its die-hard legion of fans, with Sonic and friends starring in at least one game a year since its inception. And we're going to try to explain nearly every single one in 10 words or less.
Note: We've ignored the re-releases and compilations, sticking only to those Sonic games that made it out of Japan. We've also condensed all of Sonic and Mario's Olympic adventures into one entry because, well, if you've played one, you've kind of played them all.
Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis) - Gotta go fast, but not, y'know, too fast.
Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System) - A world map? It's like living in the future of the past!
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis) - Gotta go fast, except, y'know, for real this time.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Master System) - Sonic rides a minecart and a hang glider!
Sonic the Hedgehog CD - Gotta go fast Doc Emmett Brown Style. Amy appears.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Yes, Michael Jackson wrote the music for this one. Probably.
Sonic & Knuckles - Oh wait, where’s the rest of Sonic 3? Right here.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Dimps. The dev’s name and the sound of the game.
Sonic Chaos - Chaotic only because of Game Gear’s battery life.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble - Decidedly not Sonic 3.
Knuckles' Chaotix - Rapping alligators? Shut up, Chaotix.
Sonic Blast - Last first-party game for Game Gear. Nothing like 3D Blast.
Sonic 3D Blast - Proving 3D Sonic games don't work since 1996.
Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure - A Neo Geo Pocket Color game? That's weird.
Sonic Advance - Almost a really good Sonic platformer.
Sonic Advance 2 - A really good Sonic platformer.
Sonic Advance 3 - The last good Sonic platformer for a long time.
Sonic Rush - Eww polygonal models and… it’s great? Damn!
Sonic Rush Adventure - More Blaze the Cat means more power.
Sonic Adventure - That whale is awesome. Nothing happens afterward. Froggy isn’t real.
Sonic Adventure 2 - Knuckles raps forever and we wonder why we deserve this.
Sonic Heroes - Hey these levels are great! Too bad it’s unplayable.
Shadow the Hedgehog - The Korn CD of Sonic the Hedgehog games
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) - *long exasperated sigh*
Sonic and the Secret Rings - Fixing Sonic 3D’s camera by taking away control. It works.
Sonic Unleashed - Because Sonic wasn't grimdark enough, now he's a wolverine!
Sonic and the Black Knight - Now he has a sword, because Wii Remote.
Sonic Colors - Hey… this… this isn't half bad.
Sonic Generations - This is pretty good! Maybe things are turning arou-
Sonic Lost World - Nope.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric - Why are his legs so long? WHY???
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal - At least no one inexplicably floats away?
Sonic Drift 2 - Hey, look at that, a kart racer.
Sonic R - Ok, footraces. That's a little more original, at least.
Sonic Rivals - Question: Why does everyone run as fast as Sonic?
Sonic Rivals 2 - Even Tails. He has an airplane. Why is he running?
Sonic Riders - Sonic's the fastest thing alive. He doesn't need a hoverboard.
Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity - STILL DOESN'T NEED A HOVERBOARD
Sonic Free Riders - Oh, shut up, Kinect. You're not helping.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing - Great, sure, yeah, put him in a car again. Why not?
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed - Sonic owed Danica Patric a lot of money. A lot.
SegaSonic The Hedgehog - A multiplayer Sonic arcade game that plays like Marble Madness
Sonic the Fighters - Sonic in the key of Virtua Fighter. Best name ever.
Tails and the Music Maker - Tails will teach your little siblings all about music!
Sonic Gameworld - Man, remember the Sega Pico?
Sonic's Schoolhouse - Vaguely educational minigames set inside a grade-schooler's nightmare.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine - Puyo Pop starring Sonic's nemesis. It's great.
Sonic Spinball - Sonic-themed pinball actually makes a lot of sense.
Tails Adventure - Go home, Miles, you’re drunk.
Sonic Labyrinth - Sonic, get out of Kirby’s Dream Course this instant.
Sonic Shuffle - What if Mario Party hated you even more?
Sonic Pinball Party - Technically only a party because Nights shows up.
Sonic Battle - What if Power Stone had Shadow the Hedgehog? Eh? EH?!
Sonic Jump - Sonic owed Doodle Jump a lot of money. A lot.
Sonic Dash - Drunk and rich on iPhone infinite runner power.
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom - Because what Dash was missing was scarves.
Sonic Runners - Obligatory yearly Sonic game.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (every game since 2007) - Coach, I don’t think we survived that crash.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood - Never forget that Bioware made a Sonic RPG.