Sonic Mania has raced onto the scene with critical acclaim, being noted as the best Sonic game in decades. By combining the speed and clever level design of the classic Mega Drive games with some fun modern touches, the Blue Blur is potentially on the verge of another golden age (don’t screw this up, Sonic Forces!). But, as with any successful platforming character, Sonic has had his fair share of hiccups over the past few decades. Well, alright then. Perhaps ‘hiccups’ is a bad word. How does ‘downright monstrosities’ sound? Hmm…that sounds a little more to the point. So, why don’t we go over some of these poor judgements on Sega’s part and hope that nothing like these horrid abominations are ever produced again?
Well, alright then. Perhaps ‘hiccups’ is a bad word. How does ‘downright monstrosities’ sound? Hmm…that sounds a little more to the point. So, why don’t we go over some of these poor judgements on Sega’s part and hope that nothing like these horrid abominations are ever produced again?
Shadow the Hedgehog
It was the game that nobody asked for. But we got it, anyway. This 2005 semi-sequel to Sonic Heroes starred the eponymous black hedgehog in his first (and, hopefully, only) solo game. The problems with this game were many; poor, glitchy level design, a dark plot uncharacteristic of a Sonic game and, of course, those damn guns.
The idea of guns being in a Sonic game was eyebrow-raising enough – but the way they were implemented into the gameplay was awful, as though the mechanic had been shoehorned in at the last minute. Stopping to shoot foes regularly just didn’t feel natural and contradicted the game’s attempt to be a fast-moving platformer. The vehicle sections were also tedious and out of place (when you can move faster on foot, what’s the point?). While the game boasted multiple endings and level pathways, you’d be forgiven for not wanting to endure a second playthrough of this awful stain on Sonic’s legacy.
By the time Sonic Shuffle hit the Sega Dreamcast in 2000 (2001 in European territories), Sonic had experimented with a number of other genres. There was the Game Gear Mario Kart-esque Sonic Drift games and also the arcade beat ’em up, Sonic The Fighters. Not content with those forays into other zones of gaming, Sonic had to have his own Mario Party-style party game.
Now, to the developers’ credit, they crafted a new narrative for the game to take place in and dressed it up in a plethora of bright colours. It’s just that they forgot to include the ‘fun’ aspect. The game was bogged down with a small number of below-average minigames and tedious loading times. You would be better off sticking with Mario Party than this boring clone.
Sonic The Fighters
It should be obvious to anyone that Sonic simply isn’t suited to the fighting genre. He’s a platforming hero known for his speed and agility, not his resilience or fisticuffs. Apparently, though, Sega didn’t get the memo and thus, in 1996, Sonic The Fighters hit Japanese and American arcades (after which, it has been ported to a number of Sonic games collections since).
The game can best be described as a poor man’s Virtua Fighter. While it is true that Sega designed a number of exclusive characters for the game, they are mostly forgettable, due to having a very short supply of unique fighting moves. The fighting system is simply Virtual Fighter-Lite and is overall tedious and slow. You would be better off playing any fighting game but this.
Nowadays, most gamers will recognise games studio Travellers’ Tales for their seemingly endless supply of Lego video games. But, back in the day, they did some other things (Mickey’s Wild Adventure for the Sony PlayStation comes to nostalgic mind). One of these things, however, was co-developing the awful Sonic R, which was released for the Sega Saturn in 1997 and for Windows a year later. Now, as a concept, a Sonic racing game where the characters move on-foot, doesn’t sound too bad. But when this concept is brought to life via Sonic Team’s poorly-designed racing tracks and Travellers Tales’ poor programming, it makes you re-think that statement.
The majority of the game’s tracks are bugged with awkwardly tight corners and are short to the point of tedium. The characters are awkward when trying to turn corners and some of them are so slow and disadvantageous when compared to the other racers (I’m looking at you, Amy Rose) that they just aren’t worth bothering with on a whole. Add in the fact there are only five available courses and you’ve got yourself a stinker here.
Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis (GBA Port)
This is perhaps one of the lesser-known examples of bad Sonic games, but it’s well-deserving of a spot here. This lazy, (half-assed) Game Boy Advance port was developed by Sonic Team for the blue hedgehog’s 15th anniversary and is one of the worst Sonic games in existence. It takes the original Genesis/Mega Drive game and gives it a painfully-slow frame rate, poor physics and an awfully-downgraded soundtrack – in other words, everything that made the first Sonic great.
As a cheap shoe-in, Sonic Team did add an “Anniversary mode” – which is the exact same game save for adding the spin-dash that was introduced in Sonic 2 onward. Wow, Sonic Team really pushed the boat out with this one.
What do you think are the worst Sonic games ever? Are you enjoying Mania? Let me know below.