Sonic Marathon: The story so far

Like most kids I’ve played the original two Sonic games many times, but I never got close to completing them outside of playing Tails in Sonic 2 with my older brother (which doesn’t really count as you’re hardly playing the game). After that I dropped off the series in favour of the likes of Crash Bandicoot and didn’t actually play another Sonic title until Generations.

Which why I was probably not in the position to make the blanket statement “Sonic sucks” at University in regards to Sonic Adventure, based purely off other people's opinions. My friend Dave reacted so poorly to this remark that seven years later when he became my housemate the first thing he did was make me play through the entire series.

Talk about holding a grudge.

Right now I’m about half way through this marathon of Sonic games, so I thought I would record my thoughts on them so far.

I have the most familiarity with Sonic 1 and Sonic 2. Both are punishingly difficult by the end, which probably explains why I never beat them as a kid. In fact, I’ll admit I still had to resort to level selects after dying in the final levels of both multiple times, purely for the sake of time. Sonic 2 is certainly the superior of the two, mostly because it doesn’t feature labyrinth zone. Fuck that shit.

Sonic 3 and Knuckles is another kettle of fish altogether. It’s much longer than the previous games, and incredibly difficult. The graphics in 3 are clearly pushing the Mega Drive as far as it could go, which result in what I felt was a much messier look overall. It might be my nostalgia, but I prefer the cleaner style of Sonic 2.

Sonic CD is a weird entry in the series. It’s much easier than 3 and although the time travel mechanics and boss fights are interesting, the level design and physics all feel a little off. It’s as if it was made by a team told to make a Sonic game rather than a team who had made Sonic before. Sonic CD isn’t a bad game, it’s just unremarkable.

I’m not a big fighting game fan, but I’m certain Sonic The Fighters is the worst fighting game ever made.

It’s not the worst Sonic game however, because that award (right now) goes to Sonic 3D: Flicky’s Island. This game controls teeeeeeeerribly. It’s so clear this was their first attempt at 3D gameplay, because everything about it is awful. It’s difficult to move Sonic around and it’s hard to tell if you are level with enemies in the 3D plane. Worst of all the entire game is about finding and collecting little birds, and not getting hit or they run away and you have to collect them again. It completely misses what was good about the original games (going fast). I hated every minute of this game.

Sonic R is a pretty cool proof of concept for a running racing game. It’s sadly pretty dated and has limited content, but none of that matters because the soundtrack is incredible.

Considering the ignorant remarks I made seven years ago, it’s pretty amusing that I really enjoyed Adventure and Adventure 2. Unlike Sonic 3D, they really nailed how Sonic should play in three dimensions. Additions such as the homing attack allow you to target enemies with ease while maintaining the sense of speed. The interlinking stories of the different characters is also very clever, although I much preferred how it was presented in the first Adventure (the Gamma campaign alone makes it better). The camera controls occasionally let them down, and they both have unenjoyable parts (Big’s fishing, Rouge and Knuckles collection levels, underwater swimming at the end of Adventure 2), but overall they are really good games. Both have excellent soundtracks too.

Up next is Sonic Shuffle