This is one of the best examples of a platformer on the Master System and easily the match of Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Going 'backwards' to this might be jarring If you started with Sonic on the Mega Drive, but taken on its own merits Sonic the Hedgehog on the Master System (and Game Gear) was a fair approximation of the slicker 16-bit game with bespoke levels and some great audio to boot.
Sonic Generations has a lot going for it: it looks good and offers plenty of content, and when it's on form it succeeds in combining satisfying platforming and the 'hog's trademark speed in a single package. Some design choices miss the mark though, and it's undeniably short and unambitious compared to something like Super Mario 3D Land. It never quite recaptures the original games' vibrant spirit that made them stand out all those years ago, but this is a fair attempt.
Another solid 2D entry in the Advance series that proved there were still good 2D Sonic games being made in the 2000s if you looked on handheld systems. Sonic Advance 3 starred all your favourite characters, plus Cream the Rabbit, and provided a fitting final part to a trilogy of winning platformers on the Game Boy Advance.
Sonic Rush Adventure brought back Blaze the Cat from the previous game and gives you the option to play as the feline or Sonic himself (obviously). While still a side-on 2D platformer, this game incorporated 3D sections and expanded on the traditional Sonic gameplay with adventure game elements that fit the template rather well as Sonic and Tails did their best to leave Blaze's island and get back home.
Whilst the majority of the gameplay will feel familiar to Sonic veterans, particularly those who enjoyed his previous DS outings, the Wisps genuinely refresh Sonic Colours' gameplay by adding new routes to spice up each stage. It’s fast, loud, bright and bold, and a recommended slice of high speed action that offers something different from its bigger brother on Wii (and, soon, Switch in Ultimate form).
Building on the good foundation put down in the previous entry, this middle game in the Sonic Advance trilogy upped the difficulty to a level that put some players off, but Sonic Advance 2 retained the elements that made the first game such a good translation of the 2D Sonic formula to the GBA platform: great music, lovely visuals, clever level design, and — above all — that proper Sonic 'feel'. You haven't got to go fast, but it's highly encouraged.
11. Sonic CD (MD)
Sonic CD appeared on GameCube as part of the Sonic Gems Collection, and it certainly falls into the 'gem' category. Looking and playing somewhat like an alternate reality Sonic 2 (it was developed by much of the original Sonic Team behind the first game, whereas Sega Technical Institute in the USA worked on the numbered sequel), its time travel mechanics feel a tad clunky by modern standards, but the ambition of the game's three time periods married with its audiovisual splendour make it impossible to dislike.
It also introduced Metal Sonic and Amy Rose into the Sonic canon. Great game.
In the decades since the shocking first appearance of Sega's mascot on a Nintendo handheld, it's fair to say that not every team that's worked on a 2D Sonic game has nailed the delicate sense of inertia and tight physics that characterise the classic 16-bit titles. Sonic Advance is one such example that just gets it. Developer Dimps retains the classic feel and course design that made the originals special while adding fresh elements that prevent it from feeling like a re-tread of old ideas. Vibrant visuals, charming animation, excellent audio; add multiplayer into the mix — as well as the Tiny Chao Garden that linked to the Gamecube — and Sonic Advance is a platforming treat up there with hedgehog's finest.
Seeing the DX version of this on GameCube was, for many, extremely odd at the time as we couldn't imagine seeing SEGA's mascot on a Nintendo home console. The Dreamcast original wowed anybody old enough to remember seeing Sonic in proper 3D for the first time, so having it on GameCube was something special, and not a little strange.
Time hasn't been as kind to Sonic Adventure as some games from the era, but there's something about the promise of its opening stage which gives it a special place in our affections.
Sonic Rush brought 2D Sonic into the 21st century in style for anyone who played a Sonic game in the 16-bit era and perhaps felt let down by all those that followed. Giving you control of either Sonic or newcomer Blaze the Cat, Rush nailed the basics while introducing mechanics that made sense in 2D Sonic terms, and also splitting the action across the DS' twin screens in a way that felt fresh and exciting.