Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Top Five 3D Sonic the Hedgehog Games

Remember this article? Well, now you do! Phil was really excited with the announcement of Sonic Boom for the Wii U, but then impressions came in... and then more impressions... and then more. Suddenly, he wasn't that hyped anymore, and now we love to throw that linked article in his face when he gets too big for his britches.

That said, we wanted to focus on better times for the Blue Blur. There's so much negativity surrounding Sonic the Hedgehog and gaming in general nowadays. Let's take this moment to discuss our favorite 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games, a list that probably won't feature Sonic Boom in a future revision, now will it, Phil?

5) Sonic: Lost World (Wii U)

Made by the same team behind the Wii exclusive Sonic Colors, Sonic: Lost World is an overall satisfactory addition to the 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games. It's by no means a terrific game, but it also doesn't hang anywhere near the likes of Sonic and the Black Knight or Shadow the Hedgehog. The parkour system was mostly enjoyable to use, the spherical, cylindrical, and circular levels offered a lot of clever level design, and there was a sensational soundtrack to boot.

Perhaps the greatest flaw with Sonic: Lost World is how it had such an identity crisis. It seemed like Sonic Team didn't know exactly what they wanted to do with the game, thus they threw everything they could at a wall to see what would stick. Sure, controlling Sonic in a snowball worked well and levels like the always-running Honeycomb Highway were fun, but pinball levels with chaotic physics, an endgame that felt haphazardly put together, and several rail-grinding levels added to Sonic: Lost World's detriment. However, all in all, we definitely enjoyed our time with this Wii U exclusive.

4) Sonic Adventure 2 (DC)

The original Sonic Adventure at the time of its launch was a nice affair. However, playing it now shows an abundance of flaws and things wrong with the game. Sonic Adventure 2 took the formula of its predecessor and ran with it, removing things like hub worlds, annoying segments like Big's fishing escapades, and made for a more streamlined experience.

Sonic and Shadow's levels were the top tier levels of the game, with Tails and Eggman's mech riding stages feeling like an awesome arcade shooting gallery with some platforming thrown in for good (and sometimes bad) measure. The treasure hunting stages that Knuckles and Rouge participated in were upgraded from what Sonic Adventure had, but these were still some of the weakest levels within the entire Sonic Adventure 2 package.

Still, there's a lot to find fun within Sonic Adventure 2 despite its copious amounts of flaws, whether it be storming through a San Francisco-inspired area in City Escape or grinding on rail after rail, scoring big points for doing so.

3) Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360, Wii)

We would argue that half of Sonic Unleashed is truly fantastic. For those who have played the game or are at least familiar with it, which half we're referring to should be painfully obvious. Well, as painful as it was to play the Werehog portions of the game. Yes, while there weren't any side characters to play as in Sonic Unleashed, when the Blue Blur transformed into the Werehog monstrosity, the game slowed to a tedious crawl. All forms of proper pacing spun out like Sonic slipping on a banana peel.

The daytime stages were where Sonic Unleashed truly shined. Levels had multiple paths, were fun to play, and while the boost-to-win gameplay was still there, the overall experience playing as Sonic was stupendous. Okay, maybe that's too strong of a word, but it was definitely stupendous in comparison to the nighttime stages featuring Molasses-Ass the Hedgehog-- er, the Werehog. The Werehog stages focused on what Sonic isn't about at all, combat and clearing out rooms full of enemies. This is sort of why many critics don't have much love for the upcoming Sonic Boom for Wii U.

Regardless, Sonic Unleashed also introduced players to one of the worst levels in modern Sonic the Hedgehog history, Eggmanland. Just read our thoughts on it to see why. Nonetheless, even with the Werehog and Eggmanland bringing the entire package down a little, Sonic Unleashed was the start of an upswing in the quality of Sonic the Hedgehog games.

2) Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, PC)

The top two titles on our list are ones that Sonic the Hedgehog fans commonly argue about which is the best. Well, you obviously know where we stand, seeing Sonic Generations as the number two entry on this list and all!

Anyhow, Sonic Generations was a celebration of the Blue Blur's illustrious history. Packed with a re-imagined level from each major Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic Generations had loads of fan service for lovers of SEGA's speedy mascot. Whether you were speeding through Sonic the Hedgehog's famous Green Hill or taking a tour of Sonic Adventure's Speed Highway, the levels were both new and familiar all at the same time.

Players took control of both Modern Sonic and Classic Sonic, each focusing on a certain type of level in a certain perspective. Modern Sonic often had 3D portions to play through, while Classic Sonic generally had 2.5D levels to traverse.

Sonic Generations wasn't perfect, however, with a second half of the game feeling a tad rushed and several boss encounters being fairly weak fights. Let's not forget Planet Wisp Act 1 for Classic Sonic either. Excuse us while we shiver!

1) Sonic Colors (Wii)

Our pick for the best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game yet is Sonic Colors, a Wii exclusive. Even though the game released late in the Wii's lifespan when many core gamers had moved onto other platforms, Sonic Colors sold relatively well. It's nice when quality equals sales!

Sonic Colors introduced Wisps to the formula, each offering Sonic a unique temporary ability and power upon coming across one. Whether it was the ability to drill through the ground and through water, launch like a rocket into the sky, or shoot through the air like a laser beam, the Wisps weren't a detriment to Sonic Colors like originally thought.

Even with the inclusion of Wisps, Sonic Colors felt like classic Sonic put into 3D form. It gave players tightly designed levels with few annoying quirks, a wonderful setting to enjoy in Dr. Eggman's interstellar amusement park, and a nice chunk of challenge to contend with. With both 2D and 3D gameplay to be entertained by, Sonic Colors is without a doubt our favorite 3D Sonic game and the top choice for the series's best foray into 3D.

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