Sonic the Hedgehog is part of our lives since the beginning of the 1990s and is one of the most notable video game franchises in gaming history. Besides games, the franchise branched out to other media, like movies, TV shows, anime, and more. The franchise was created by Japanese Sega, and since then released more than thirty video games for various gaming platforms.
Sonic became an essential part of popular culture and to this day has millions of loyal fans all over the world. For this article, we will focus on the 2D and 3D era, and the games that were exclusively released for gaming platforms. The reason for that is that Sonic has more than a hundred available games at this point and most of them are mini-games that could be found on various websites online. If you are interested in this article, buckle up and stay with us until the end.
Editor’s Note: This list was updated in November 2023 with the upcoming release of Sonic Dream Team
How Many Sonic Games Are Out There?
We all know about the 2D and 3D era games that were exclusively released for gaming platforms like SEGA, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, and more. However, if we include mobile games, mini-games, online games, and others, there are approximately more than a hundred games Sonic games out there. For the sake of this article, we will focus on 2D and 3D games.
Sonic Games in Order (At Glance)
For this article, we decided to distinguish Sonic games by their genre and availability. The 2D and 3D generations of the games are going to be on this list, and this is what we gathered for it:
- Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)
- Sonic CD (1992)
- Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos (1993)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles (1994)
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (1994)
- Knuckles’ Chaotix (1995)
- Sonic Blast (1996)
- Sonic Blast 3D (1996)
- Sonic Adventure (1998)
- Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999)
- Sonic Advance (2001)
- Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)
- Sonic Advance 2 (2002)
- Sonic Heroes 3D (2003)
- Sonic Advance 3 (2004)
- Sonic Rush (2005)
- Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
- Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)
- Sonic Rush Adventures (2007)
- Sonic Unleashed (2008)
- Sonic and the Black Knight (2009)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (2010)
- Sonic Colors (2010)
- Sonic Generations (2011)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 (2012)
- Sonic Lost World (2013)
- Sonic Mania (2017)
- Sonic Forces (2017)
- Sonic Frontiers (2022)
- Sonic Dream Team (2023) Upcoming
As you can see, we gathered thirty-two Sonic games for our list.
What Is the Best Way to Play Sonic Games?
The best way to play Sonic games is by release date. Even though some games are connected and share their stories, Sonic games like most of them out there are best played by release date order.
Sonic Games In Order (Release Date)
1. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
We start this list with the game that started it all – the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. Basically, the players control the blue hedgehog called Sonic who moves and runs at supersonic speed, collects golden rings, defeats enemies, and the ultimate mission of the game is to defeat Dr. Robotnik, a scientist who imprisoned the animals in robots and seeks powerful Chaos Emeralds.
The game and the character of Sonic were the competition of then dominating Nintendo Super Mario games, and we can safely say SEGA did a really good job competing with Nintendo.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)
A direct sequel of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game came only a year after. In the game, players once again control Sonic who needs to stop Dr. Robotnik once again. The game introduces Sonic’s first companion, a character called Tails. The second installment features faster gameplay, better levels, and harder fighting bosses.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a success.
3. Sonic CD (1992)
SEGA released Sonic CD the same year as the successful second installment for SEGA CD and is considered the best Sonic game of all time. The game once again follows Sonic and attempts to save an extraterrestrial body, Little Planet from Dr. Robotnik.
Time travel was introduced in this game and is an important part of the game.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos (1993)
In 1993, Sonic Chaos was the first Sonic game developed for handheld platforms and was largely based on Sonic 2. Players are controlling Sonic who needs to retrieve the Chaos Emeralds from Dr. Robotnik with his sidekick Tails.
Also, this was the first Sonic game that added Tails as a playable character.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles (1994)
Sonic 3 is the direct sequel of the original two Sonic games, and once again, gained the success of its predecessor. The game introduced the new character Knuckles the Echidna who is trying to sabotage Sonic and Tails. The player controls Sonic to stop Dr. Robotnik once again.
Sonic & Knuckles was developed simultaneously with the Sonic 3, and for that reason, we put it in the same rank. These two games were supposed to be one game, however, for development reasons, SEGA had to separate them. All in all, these two games are closely connected.
6. Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (1994)
This Sonic is the side-scrolling type of game and this time the players can control either Sonic or Tails to protect the Chaos Emeralds of from Dr. Robotnik, Knuckles, and a new character Nack the Weasel. The game was released in recent years which proves its value even today.
7. Knuckles’ Chaotix (1995)
One of the last 2D games released, Knuckles’ Chaotix provided players the choice of playing with Knuckles whose mission is to prevent Dr. Robotnik and Metal Sonic from obtaining six rings and conquering the mysterious island. This was the first game that was criticized and failed commercially.
8. Sonic Blast (1996)
Another side-scrolling Sonic game where players control Sonic and Knuckles to stop Dr. Robotnik from using the Chaos Emeralds. There are 15 levels and players need to collect as much as golden rings as they can.
The game was deemed as one of the worst of the franchise.
9. Sonic Blast 3D (1996)
The 3D era of the games has come, and Sonic Blast 3D was the first one of that nature in its franchise. Consequently, it was the last Sonic game for the SEGA Genesis platform. This time, players control Sonic the Hedgehog to save the Flickies, birds that have been enslaved by Dr. Robotnik.
10. Sonic Adventure (1998)
A platform game for Sega’s Dreamcast and the first Sonic game that was fully 3D (previous did not have all 3D elements). This game allows the player to control six characters – Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and new characters Amy Rose, Big the Cat, and E-102 Gamma. One of the best games in the Sonic franchise.
11. Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999)
Cool little game that was developed for the handheld platform Neo Geo Pocket Color, and it was based on Sonic 2 from Sega Genesis, and it has borrowed a lot of stages and mechanics from the game. In the end, the game was successful and happily played game amongst the fans.
12. Sonic Advance (2001)
A game that prompted SEGA to move away from Dreamcast and develop their games for other gaming platforms. It was the first Sonic game released on Nintendo, and it follows Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy on their journey to stop Dr. Eggman from taking over the world.
Sonic Advance was a success.
13. Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)
A direct sequel to 1998’s first Sonic Adventure, this time players control Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles who are trying to save the world, while Shadow, Dr. Eggman, and Rouge the Bat are trying to conquer it.
The game presented new innovative gameplay, graphics, characters, and audio.
14. Sonic Advance 2 (2002)
This time Sonic goes by himself to save his friends and acquire seven magical Chaos Emeralds to defeat Dr. Eggman. Each character is playable, has its own unique gameplay, and stages are adapted towards their abilities. After each zone is completed, the player faces the final boss, Dr. Eggman.
15. Sonic Heroes 3D (2003)
Sonic once again needs to defeat Dr. Eggman, collect the seven Chaos Emeralds, and ultimately save the world. This game is similar to the older games from the 1990s and was the first Sonic game released for multiple gaming platforms. It received critical acclaim.
16. Sonic Advance 3 (2004)
Another sequel on this list, Sonic Advance 3 is essentially a fast-paced 2D platformer that takes place across seven zones. It was successful and critically acclaimed.
17. Sonic Rush (2005)
Another 2D platformer on this list, Sonic Rush was praised by the critics but criticized for its short duration. It was released for Nintendo DS, and it heavily reminds the fans of the old great Sonic games.
18. Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)
Similar to the first Sonic game ever, this time Shadow is the main protagonist and controllable character, and the first Sonic game is a third-person shooter that had nonlinear gameplay. Critics disliked it a lot, however, fans did not disappoint and the game was commercially successful.
19. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
The game marked the 15th anniversary of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, where a player controls Sonic, Shadow, and new character Silver who are trying to battle and defeat Solaris, an ancient evil pursued by Doctor Eggman. It was released on multiple platforms and even praised in prerelease screenings. However, it bombed and was considered one of the worst Sonic games of the franchise.
It was removed from all retailers in 2010.
20. Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)
Sonic and the Secret Rings was essentially a spin-off series of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. This time Sonic needs to stop an evil genie Erazor, and the gameplay revolves around leveling up and gaining experience.
The game was removed from all retailers in 2010.
21. Sonic Rush Adventure (2007)
Sequel to Sonic Rush, Nintendo DS gained a good Sonic title once again. Tails and Sonic travel to an alternate universe to help Blaze the Cat to defeat robot pirates, and once again is a side-scrolling game where players stroll through the levels. It was a critically acclaimed game with the criticism that there were very few innovations.
22. Sonic Unleashed (2008)
Not loved when it was released, Sonic Unleashed got a cult following years after the game was released. After Dr. Eggman unleashes Dark Gaia, an ancient evil, Sonic is trying to save the world. The game was so good that it got rereleased in 2018.
23. Sonic and the Black Knight (2009)
Another entry that is part of the original Sonic the Hedgehog series, Black Knight was released for Nintendo Wii in 2009. It follows the story of the Secret Rings and is set in the world of King Arthur. It utilized Wii’s movement functionality, but not to the point of critics like it, and for that, it was removed from all retailers in 2010.
24. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (2010)
This game is the sequel to Sonic & Knuckles from 1994, and it follows Sonic as he sets out to stop a returning Doctor Eggman. The game added special stages where players can collect Chaos Emeralds and online leaderboards for comparison to other players. It was released on multiple gaming platforms and received positive reviews.
25. Sonic Colors (2010)
Another platform game on this list follows Sonic in stopping his nemesis Doctor Eggman from enslaving an alien race. Sonic Colors was developed for multiple gaming platforms and SEGA finally received favorable reviews for two Sonic Games in a row. The demographic of the players extended to younger generations.
26. Sonic Generations (2011)
Another anniversary of the original Sonic game, this time 20th, saw another Sonic game being critically acclaimed which is totally different from the previous anniversary game. The innovative concept of gameplay features Tails and Sonic forming an alliance with past selves, which essentially means that SEGA decided to combine 2D and 3D gameplay.
27. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 (2012)
A direct sequel to the first episode of Sonic 4, this game was considered of being an improvement over the original game. It was released across all gaming platforms, and good physics, co-op mechanics, and visuals saved this game from being a failure.
28. Sonic Lost World (2013)
Originally released only for Nintendo platforms, Sonic Lost World was ported to Microsoft Windows as well. Sonic needs to stop Deadly Six from destroying the world, and the game only improved the fluidity of the gameplay but was criticized over controls and enemies.
29. Sonic Mania (2017)
Another anniversary game, this time 25th, saw Sonic Mania get positive reviews and hauled as the best game of the last 15 years. It pays homage to the original games, and even though it did not offer anything innovative, the game was a commercial success.
30. Sonic Forces (2017)
Even though this installment of the game featured three different types of gameplay, Classic, Modern, and Avatar style, the game still got “only” mixed reviews. It did introduce the custom character build feature and was praised for visuals, voice acting, and audio, but the failed inclusion of the classic Sonic gameplay was criticized.
31. Sonic Frontiers (2022)
In Sonic the Hedgehog’s latest high-speed adventure, worlds collide as Sonic searches for the missing Chaos Emeralds and becomes stranded on an ancient island filled with unusual creatures. Battle powerful enemies in a breathtaking world of action, adventure, and mystery. Experience the thrill of high-velocity, open-zone platforming freedom across the five massive Starfall Islands. Wield the power of the Ancients, jump into adventure, and fight against new mysterious foes, marking the evolution of Sonic games.
Where To Acquire Sonic Games?
As we already mentioned, some games were purged into nothingness by SEGA themselves. They realized that their failed games are ruining the value and rating of their company and decided to remove them from all available gaming platform stores. The ones that are available are mostly on Steam, and respected stores of each gaming platform.
There is another option available – some games have suitable compressed files that you can play on specific emulators on your computers. Check it out.
Do You Need To Play Sonic Games In Order?
Not necessarily. The games are best played by the release date so you can see and experience the beginnings and the niche of Sonic games, that became so popular all over the world.
Are Sonic Games Connected?
As you can see from the list, most of the games are sequels or connected to the original games, which makes them connected. Other ones that were released separately, like the ones on Nintendo consoles, are separated – however, they are considered alternate universe games.
Will There Be More Sonic Games?
What we realized with these classic gaming franchises, is that Sonic will never be shut down, at least in the near future. The market still exists and the fact that the game expanded to other media helps a lot for games that do not necessarily have the best track record of good games. Also, Sonic Dream Team is about to be released in less than a month.
Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!