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Which version of Sonic is the best version of Sonic?

But we're actually very fond of him. There's a lot to be said for early, flat-shaded 3D and we still long for more games to be released using it. What was once cutting edge has gone right through 'dated' and come full-circle to look uber-stylised - just look at Rez or Geometry Wars. That said, however, this Sonic is laughable, so despite his charms, there's no way he can avoid the bottom of the pile. But he's still waaay better looking than the next one...

Sonic into Dreams
If we're talking about 'misshapen', then we can't ignore this fella. This was the first time we got to play as Sonic on the Saturn, as an unlockable 'bonus' in Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. It was a nice idea, but odd considering this free-roaming Sonic shows up the worst aspects of the game engine and makes an otherwise beautiful game look like the proverbial dog's dinner.

His animation is basic, his jumps disorientating and his movement incredibly jittery compared to the serene gliding of his little jester friend. If it wasn't for the bouncy Dr Robotnik boss level, we'd probably never touch this mode again.

So we've had two 3D Sonic in the 'worst' list. But don't think all the 2D ones are sacred. Look at these abominations:

The Panasonic Sonic
Back in 2002 (we believe), Sonic made his mobile phone debut ina game for the Panasonic 503i. Not in a reworking of his original game like we can buy now for a few quid. No, this was a game designed to fit the technological 'capabilities' of the new generation of mobile phones in Japan.

We've searched and searched for a video of this monstrosity, but can't find one anywhere. But, judging by the look of it, perhaps that's for the best. Because it appears to have been drawn by a four-year-old. With his feet. And poo for a pen.

Sonic Blast
Then there's this Game Gear outing. See what we mean when we say it's a shame the original Sonic sprite never got a rerun? Instead, we got supposed improvements like this. While it's all well and good to use fancy computers to pre-render 3D models and convert them into images a caveman's console could run, what's the point? There's no escaping the fact that all the techno-wizardry makes the actual gameplay take a back seat. That and the fact that Sonic looks like he's he's been melted in a microwave and had his feet mauled by a tiger. How does he even stand up?

But all of the above pale in comparison to the last of our chosen few shockers.Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to open a big can of hate worms for the worst Sonic of all time.

Above: Why?

It's the were-hog from Sonic Unleashed. This is technically still Sonic, only he's gone through a transformation that turns him from uber-cool, ultra-fast hero into a shambling, stretchy-limbed, furry abomination.

The only reason he exists is to pad out the game because regular Sonic's amazing action stages now take fartoo much time, money and effort to produce because he's so fast you need miles of scenery to fill a single minute of action.

But that's no excuse for his existence. If he were called anything other than Sonic, and appearing in a game that didn't tantalise us with the best Sonic gameplay in a decade, we might feel differently. But he isn't, and he didn't, so we don't.

Rant over, let's soothe the pain with some pretty pictures of the best Sonics ever...

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.