27. Sonic Forces (Switch)

Sonic Forces (Switch)Sonic Forces (Switch)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: 7th Nov 2017 (USA) / 7th Nov 2017 (UK/EU)

Combining Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in a similar way to Sonic Generations, this was a less successful take on the formula. It's a mixed bag of 3D, 2D and narrative that in many ways typifies the last two decades of Sonic games, with the player often feeling like a onlooker than a participant in the action. A younger audience may be more forgiving, but Sonic veterans have been here and done it all before.

26. Tails Adventure (GG)

Tails Adventure (GG)Tails Adventure (GG)
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Nov 1995 (USA) / Oct 1995 (UK/EU)

Tails Adventure is definitely the odd game out in the Game Gear's Sonic lineup, but it makes a sound case for its unique identity. This is SEGA's very much friendlier take on the Metroidvania-lite formula — a fun adventure platformer with excellent level design, creative items and abilities, and some much-deserved time in the spotlight for Tails. For fans of the two-tailed fox, or adventure games in general, Tails Island is well worth exploring.

25. Sonic Spinball (MD)

Sonic Spinball (MD)Sonic Spinball (MD)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA Technical Institute
Release Date: 12th Mar 2007 (USA) / 5th Apr 2007 (UK/EU)

Sonic Spinball was a brave attempt to expand on the pinball shenanigans of Spring Yard Zone and Casino Night Zone from the first two Sonic games and spin an entire game out of it. The premise had promise, but unfortunately the result comes across as a bad platform game and a bad pinball game stuck together. Flawed, then, but we often wonder how this might have turned out had it used the silky smooth engine from the mainline games.

Available on various complications over the years, including on Switch with SEGA Mega Drive Classics (and even Game Boy Advance via the Sega Smash Pack), Spinball's excellent music is reason enough to check it out if you're curious, and the bonus stages featuring Sonic standing at a pinball table with his reflection in the glass is still pretty rad.

24. Sonic Chaos (SMS)

Sonic Chaos (SMS)Sonic Chaos (SMS)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Aspect
Release Date: 2nd Feb 2009 (USA) / 6th Feb 2009 (UK/EU)

Hardcore Sonic fans might get a kick out of Sonic Chaos, and it's not without charm, but compared to the greats it's a comparatively uninspired effort and far too easy for its own good. Some of the levels will only take you 30 seconds to run through and personally we'd stick to the previous 8-bit titles. Still, Chaos has its defenders and it's got some great box art, so it's not all bad.

23. Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (GG)

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (GG)Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (GG)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Aspect
Release Date: 1994 (USA) / 1994 (UK/EU)

As with all the Game Gear releases, it's easy to pick on Triple Trouble for its shortcomings when compared to the home console Sonic titles, but even bearing in mind the limitations of the hardware, the game still has its share of faults. The adventure itself is quite enjoyable and there are some solid level designs, but the lack of challenge and sluggish pacing end up bringing the overall experience down a few notches. Keep your expectations at a realistic level and you might have some fun, but this is far from essential Sonic.

22. Sonic Lost World (Wii U)

Sonic Lost World (Wii U)Sonic Lost World (Wii U)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA
Release Date: 29th Oct 2013 (USA) / 18th Oct 2013 (UK/EU)

Superficially, this is Sonic's take on a Super Mario Galaxy-style adventure with cylindrical worlds and abstract delights. It's a long way behind Nintendo's masterpiece, but Sonic Lost World is still a clever, colourful platformer which offers flashes of genius and fun. You'll just have to put up with plenty of frustration to get at the really good stuff.

21. Sonic Unleashed (Wii)

Sonic Unleashed (Wii)Sonic Unleashed (Wii)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: 18th Nov 2008 (USA) / 28th Nov 2008 (UK/EU)

It's the Sonic X Werewolf crossover everyone was gagging for! Yes, Sonic Team’s insistence on disrupting Sonic's flow with random gameplay elements from other genres continued with Sonic Unleashed, which turned everyone's favourite speed freak into a lumbering lupine oaf when night fell. It has its moments — as most Sonic games do — but throw in Wii waggle for the lacklustre brawler bits, and the result is yet another patchy entry in the 3D Sonic canon.

20. Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS)

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS)Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sanzaru Games
Release Date: 27th Sep 2016 (USA) / 30th Sep 2016 (UK/EU)

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is — rather like its predecessor — a solid effort and worth consideration if you're Sonic fan. The core campaign blends a variety of styles, with the main stages employing an enjoyable mix of exploration and puzzle solving with moments of satisfying momentum and speed. There are some slightly disappointing downsides, and it's a game that occasionally feels constrained rather than supported by its source material. Overall, however, it deserves credit for what it does well, and should certainly be tempting to fans of the show and also broader Sonic enthusiasts willing to accept its limitations.

19. Sonic Heroes (GCN)

Sonic Heroes (GCN)Sonic Heroes (GCN)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: 5th Jan 2004 (USA) / 6th Feb 2004 (UK/EU)

Eschewing the more open approach of the Adventure games for more linear-style levels, Sonic Heroes gives you teams of characters to switch between including fan favourites Big the Cat, Rouge the Bat and Cream the rabbit alongside the classic trio of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. It did an admirable job of replicating the feeling of the 2D Sonic games in three dimensions, and while it's not perfect, there's a lot to like about Sonic Heroes.

18. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (SMS)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (SMS)Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (SMS)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Aspect
Release Date: 8th Dec 2008 (USA) / 26th Dec 2008 (UK/EU)

Sonic 2 (8-bit) is definitely worth a look for Sonic fans who perhaps missed out on the Master System/Game Gear entries. It is sufficiently different from the first 8-bit game to warrant a look, and it's got more great music (we're particularly partial to some Sky High Zone, but it's all good). It's obviously not a patch on the Genesis Sonic 2, but a direct comparison is a little unfair given the hardware. Overall, this Sonic 2 has its own identity and is still worth investigating.