The Top 7… modern Sonic games that don't suck

First released during the Dreamcast’s death throes, this found its way to GameCube in 2002 with a few new modes and lightly enhanced visuals. I honestly couldn’t decide whether to put this or Sonic Heroes at number six, mainly because both are reasonably competent games made mediocre by a frustrating camera, so I asked readers onTwitter (opens in new tab)to weigh in. Turns out the nearly unanimous response was for Battle, with most everyone citing Heroes’ far worse camera and dumbass character roster.

Above: Hooray, you won the “less shitty” award!

In a roundabout way, I suppose this makes Battle 2 the “best” 3D entry as well as the last game released before the downward spiral that has typified the 2000s. Thankfully it’s more streamlined than the first Adventure and has some genuinely cool “whoa” moments, plus I hear its Chao garden is really sweet. Gonna have to take your word on that.

Above: Apparently this went over really well

But, even at #6, Battle 2 is no Mario 64. It’s not even close, and thus even the best 3D Sonic is still a far cry from a genre-expanding experience. Neither this one nor the much-beloved Sonic Adventure are especially strong titles, a point I feel is best illustrated by this old image I cooked up in 2008:

Basically, when it was first released in 1999, Sonic Adventure scores were immensely positive. When it was rereleased on GameCube just four years later, scores took a huge dive. With launch goggles gone and the wisdom of time now in hand, most of us agreed that Sonic Adventure and all its 3D cousins were and are so-so at best. Not hatin’, just sayin’.

Stupidness that still managed to find its way in:

This guy. It was only a matter of time before we got a black “anti-Sonic” hedgehog, but who would’ve thought they’d angst him up with in-line skates and an arsenal of ridiculous handguns. He’s become inexplicably popular despite starring in one of theworst Sonic games of all time (opens in new tab). Maybe there was a reasonably interesting idea in here – turning it into an “ultimate life form” with an elaborate backstory and jet-black motorcycle sure isn’t it.

Right. So, to even fill this with seven entries we have to make some compromises. This one makes the cut because, unlike Sega Superstars Tennis, Sega billed this as Sonic AND Sega All-Stars Racing, giving Sonic top billing and inadvertently making this a Sonic title in the process. The good news is it’s defensibly fun, and the first joyful spark the franchise had seen in quite a few years.

Above: Why does a supersonic creature need a car? Answer: $$$

Yes, it’s a racing game that shamelessly apes Mario Kart, from its power-ups to its racer types to its loopy course design. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a ton of fun to play. And as an added bonus to Sega fans it’s a celebration of everything they love about a company that rarely catches a critically acclaimed break. Hell, look at this Achievements list!

Above: A bounty of Sega references for those who care

Admit it – you groaned in disbelief when it was first announced. We sure did. But now that it’s out, we have to say it’s delightfully playful and a welcome burst of energy for not just Sonic, but a whole mess of Sega properties that’ve done nothing but tread water for years.

Stupidness that still managed to find its way in:

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.