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The 20 Most Underrated 'Sonic' Games

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Brittany Vincent/ONE37pm

When it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog, we all know the greatest hits: the original game that started it all, Sonic CD, Sonic Adventure 2, and that's just naming a few. There are a set of Sonic games that are widely accepted as the cream of the crop, and for plenty of good reasons. There are a few stinkers, too. Plus there's a collection of underrated Sonic games worth mentioning as well. But that's true of any long-running game series.

But aside from the best entries, we can usually all agree on and the collective clunkers, there are plenty more still that just don't get the recognition they deserve. For instance, do you ever really sit and think about how much fun Sonic Lost World was? What about Sonic Spinball? Absolute, tried-and-true classics. And we think it's time to make sure they're properly recognized.

So let's take a stroll through these 20 underrated Sonic the Hedgehog games. Grab those wallets, because you may very well find a new Sonic adventure you're ready to embark on.

1. 'Sonic Lost World'

Sonic Lost World finds Sonic facing off against a crew of Eggman's terrifying new cronies, the Deadly Six. Things don't exactly go as planned, though, as the Deadly Six rise up against Eggman. As such, Sonic uses a variety of new powers (plus the returning Spin Dash) to bring the fight to them. Sonic can fly through the air, move at breakneck speeds, and race through colorful levels reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy. If it's the super speed you appreciate most about Sonic, this is one entry you won't want to miss. And just look at those bright, enticing colors! Gorgeous.

Buy Now, $29.99

2. 'Knuckles' Chaotix'

This Knuckles-centric spin-off is a platformer that follows the titular echidna and the Chaotix Crew as they traverse the Newtrogic High Zone to stop Eggman from conquering Sonic's world. Aside from its unique protagonists, this game is intriguing as it lets you choose which levels to play in the order you prefer, as you swap out playable characters using the Ring Power through Bound Rings. This means you can have one player stay put while another moves forward to create speed. There are plenty of creative moves just like this one that make Knuckles' Chaotix an exciting entry in the Sonic universe, and it's well worth trying.

Buy Now, $122.50

3. 'Sonic Chaos'

This Master System and Game Gear game follow Sonic and Tails as they work to steal away the Chaos Emeralds from the dastardly Eggman, who's stolen them in a bid to create nuclear weapons. Based on the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it's essentially a follow-up to that game and the first to feature Tails as a playable character with his own selection of abilities. It was also the first original Sonic game made for a handheld. If you owned a Game Gear, chances are you had a copy of this too, but if not, you should be sure to dig into this classic, speedy Sonic platformer now, too. Retro handheld aficionados certainly remember this selection as one of the most underrated Sonic games.

Buy Now, $29.99

4. 'Sonic Colors: Ultimate'

Sonic Colors: Ultimate is a remastered version of the original Wii game, which marked a stunning return to form at the time for the Sonic series. Sonic must stop the evil Eggman (as usual) from doing something heinous: this time, it's enslaving an alien race and trying to take over the world. You know, as you do. It introduces the Wisps, which are special power-ups that Sonic can use to help stop Eggman, as they imbue him with attack power and other abilities, all based on different colors. That includes the Cyan Laser, the Orange Rocket, Pink Spikes, and more. It's a speedy, exciting addition to the Sonic series that deserved another shot at reaching a larger audience, and if you're always chasing classic Sonic, there's certainly nothing wrong with this otherworldly adventure.

Buy Now, $39.99

5. 'Sonic Riders'

This high-octane racer brings Sonic the Hedgehog characters together to battle it out to see who's the quickest on hoverboards. It includes 16 tracks spread out across an actual story mode with a plot. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are looking for the Chaos Emeralds to make the Babylon Garden rise so he can enact another evil plan. He ends up starting up a race called the EX World Grand Prix to get his evil machinations going, and as it happens, Team Sonic and Amy Rose join in for two campaigns' worth of action with new characters Jet the Hawk, Wave the Swallow, and Storm the Albatross. The races are quick, the stages are inventive, and the core gameplay is strong. If you love racing, this is an exciting Sonic game that'll strike your fancy. You just can't put together a list of underrated Sonic games and not bring up this one.

6. 'Sonic Forces'

Sonic Forces came about in commemoration of Sonic's 25th anniversary, and let players create their own unique custom character to help save the day. Sonic the Hedgehog is, once again, working to thwart Eggman, who's actually conquered the world this time with the help of the sinister new villain Infinite. It features both side-scrolling gameplay like classic Sonic titles as well as 3D action like Sonic Colors, which means it features the best of both worlds. The real draw is its character creator, which lets you act out your Sonic OC fantasies, as you can play alongside classic characters like Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as well as Team Chaotix, Amy Rose, Silver the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, and more. It's a jam-packed Sonic celebration, and a great platformer all-around.

Buy Now, $24.49

7. 'Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble'

This Sonic platformer for Game Gear is the standalone sequel to Sonic Chaos, so it's very much in the same wheelhouse. It finds Sonic and Tails working to collect six Chaos Emeralds before Eggman can, and introduces Fang the Sniper (then Nack the Weasel). It also marks Knuckles' first appearance in a handheld Sonic game. There's nothing particularly innovative about this entry compared to Sonic Chaos, but what makes it underrated is that it's more of the same, enjoyable action that Sonic Chaos presented. It's also proof that, if you didn't own a Game Gear in its heyday, you really should pick one up on the cheap now.

Buy Now, $49.95

8. 'Sonic Spinball'

Sonic Spinball is an entirely addictive pinball game where Sonic himself is the pinball. Interestingly enough, it's set in the animated series continuity. Eggman has built a fortress on top of a volcano in a bid to transform the animal inhabitants of planet Mobius into robots. Sonic and Tails work to infiltrate the fortress, but Sonic is knocked into the waters surrounding the fortress. Across four different levels, he must pinball around to try and free the animals, avoiding toxic sludge, hitting switches and bumpers to proceed, and defeating bosses to move past certain areas. It's extremely challenging, but that's what makes it so much fun. Plus, it looks great. Sonic Spinball offers one of the more clever spinoff entries in the series and is most definitely considered highly within this selection of underrated Sonic games.

Buy Now, $29.99

9. 'Tails Adventure'

Did you know Tails had his own solo game? Tails Adventure has Miles "Tails" Prower exploring Tails Island as he defeats a variety of enemies lurking there. It's a little different than your typical Sonic game, as Tails can only walk or fly, and it's more akin to a typical platformer than most Sonic games. But it's a fun, casual adventure where Tails can collect 26 items across 12 stages, which will require a bit of thinking and challenge to get through. It's a fun change of pace, and it's a great option for Tails fans, especially since he's had so few chances to shine in the spotlight.

Buy Now, $4.99

10. 'Sonic Rush'

This Nintendo DS platformer was one of the most exciting new-school Sonic games to hit the popular handheld. Interestingly, it brought a new character named Blaze the Cat into the fold, who comes from a dimension with seven Sol Emeralds, much like the Chaos Emeralds. Eggman somehow managed to get his hands on those too, and Blaze has to retrieve them. She meets up with Cream the Rabbit and Sonic the Hedgehog, and the pair team up to figure out how they can stop Eggman and his nefarious plot, collecting the Sol Emeralds and realizing the meaning of friendship along the way.

Buy Now, $39.95

11. 'Shadow the Hedgehog'

Don't let his edginess fool you. Shadow the Hedgehog is actually a fun character, and so is his 2005 video game. It completely changed things up in terms of classic Sonic elements, instead focusing on third-person shooter and nonlinear gameplay mechanics. Shadow can use a variety of weapons and special attacks, and can even embark on special sub-missions if you so choose.

It's all in an attempt to try to regain Shadow's lost memories, and so he can reunite with his creator's granddaughter Maria. If you've ever wished for a more violent Sonic game or one with a bunch more edgy content, this is the Sonic game for you. It's actually quite fun, much in the way of Final Fantasy spin-off Dirge of Cerberus. Shadow the Hedgehog in all its gun-toting and melee-weapon swinging glory has to be given its flowers as one of the more underrated Sonic games.

Buy Now, $88.77

12. 'Team Sonic Racing'

Sonic and the gang are all revved up and ready to go in Team Sonic Racing. Characters from the Sonic universe like the Blue Blur himself, Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Amy Rose, and more have joined up for a team-based kart racing game where the winner takes all. With awesome new Wisp-based power-ups, lots of fun Sonic moments for the fans, and speedy new karts, fans will have plenty to dig into with this new Sonic racer in their hands. From the starting line to the finish, tackle radical new tracks, groove along to familiar Sonic music, and earn extra points based on which position you complete the race. It's a Sonic free-for-all that you won't want to miss.

Buy Now, $29.99

13. 'Sonic and the Black Knight'

When Sonic and the Black Knight debuted, it was the laughing stock of the Sonic community. But that's just because people didn't understand its brilliance. And they still don't. It combines fantasy storytelling with the world of Sonic as it introduces a wizard named Merlina, granddaughter of Merlin, as she tries to escape from a black knight and his soldiers. She accidentally summons Sonic after performing a spell pleading for a hero to save her. Merlina explains to a bewildered Sonic that the black knight is King Arthur, who's been corrupted by the power of Excalibur. Sonic has to defeat him before he can return to his world. Aside from an exciting story, the game is unique in that it gives Sonic a sword to swing around while allowing him the same speed and mechanics as the rest of the series, making for a fun and refreshing change of pace.

Buy Now, $78.85

14. 'Sonic the Fighters HD'

This lesser-known fighting game brings Sonic characters together to clash in 1v1 battles. It uses the same engine as Fighting Vipers and is the first wholly 3D game in the Sonic series. It's been largely an afterthought for some time, which is of course a mistake. Who doesn't want to see Sonic and Knuckles duke it out? And Tails and Amy Rose is an enticing battle as well because it sounds like a hilarious match-up. It may ultimately be a pretty simplistic fighting game, but it's a lot of fun and features some very cool animation. It'd be nice if Sega revisited such a silly yet wholly engaging concept from one of the most underrated Sonic games and fighters that's way better than it's given credit for.

Buy Now, $4.99

15. 'Sonic Shuffle'

If you like Mario Party but wish it featured Sonic characters instead, you'll love Sonic Shuffle. It's a similar board game that also includes minigames like its Nintendo counterpart, and it's great to play with a room full of friends. Sonic and friends are sent to "Maginaryworld", where they meet with a fairy who asks the group to collect "Precioustones" in a bid to save the world from the evil villain Void. All playable characters, including Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big the Cat, Super Sonic, E-102 Gamma, and a Chao, have their own unique abilities while roaming around the board. The game also supports the Dreamcast's VMU, something rarer even for the system's heyday. It's a great party game with fun Easter eggs for Sonic fans and is criminally overlooked.

Buy Now, $98

16. 'Sonic and the Secret Rings'

Sonic and the Secret Rings kicked off the Sonic Storybook series, with Sonic and the Black Knight to follow. It's a spin-off that marked the hedgehog's first appearance on the Wii and finds Sonic trying to stop an evil genie called the Erazor Djinn. While it mostly plays like a classic Sonic title, it's set in the Arabian Nights universe and features a special system where Sonic can earn experience points and levels to become more powerful over time. It's a fun, imaginative game that incorporates plenty of Wii Remote movements, and its version of the Arabian Nights story is fun to take in.

Buy Now, $50.17

17. 'Sonic Unleashed'

Ever wish Sonic could transform into a bigger, badder version of himself? You get just that in Sonic Unleashed, where Sonic is cursed with becoming a Werehog, a werewolf-like creature. After Eggman (once again) destroys the world as we know it in an attempt to release the ancient evil being Dark Gaia, Sonic must work to defeat Dark Gaia, who also cursed him with the Werehog transformation.

The gameplay is split into two different styles because of this: traditional speedy Sonic platforming, and a third-person style where Werehog Sonic is slower and more deliberate, fighting off waves of enemies in his much more powerful form. Though it was initially the butt of many jokes as it turned Sonic into a Werehog, it's very much a fun little diversion that brings enough different types of gameplay to the fold that it's definitely an overlooked gem at this point.

Buy Now, $14.99

18. 'Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine'

Love Puyo Puyo? Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is precisely that, only it features Sonic the Hedgehog characters. Though it's just a puzzle game, it does feature some story elements. Robotnik (Eggan) has kidnapped the poor denizens of Beanville and has turned them into robots. Naturally, you have to stop him. Because who else is going to?

The mechanics are simple to learn. You watch for colored shapes descending down from the top of the screen and match the colors to clear lines and eventually the entirety of your play area, much like Tetris. It's easy to get lost in for hours, and while it isn't a traditional Sonic game, it's still fun to keep around for bite-sized chunks of gameplay. This addictive puzzler, with its goated upbeat soundtrack, get a worthy nod here for its placement here as one of the most underrated Sonic games.

Buy Now, $4.99

19. 'Sonic Battle'

This handheld Sonic free-for-all is the second fighting game in the Sonic franchise and the sequel to Sonic Advance 2. As usual, it has a plot, too. Eggman learns of a secret artifact his grandfather discovered: a sentient weapon called the Gizoid. Eggman tries to bring back the Gizoid, but can't hack it and abandons it at Emerald Beach. When Sonic finds it, it syncs with him and develops a special link with him. Sonic names it Emerl, and discovers it can use the Chaos Emeralds.

The pair train together, but this eventually attracts Eggman, who creates an army of Emerl clones. All that to say, you have to face off against other Sonic characters in 3D arenas with up to four players, kind of like a Super Smash Bros. type situation but in a 3D space. it's a fun diversion, if simplistic, but it could definitely use a remake on a modern system that doesn't force you to squint to see everything. Still, it's a great game.

20. 'Sonic Pinball Party'

Sonic Spinball may be the premiere Sonic pinball game, but Sonic Pinball Party is a close second and one of the lesser-known Game Boy Advance titles. Set in Casinopolis, Eggman is up to his old tricks, trying to turn people into robots. He brainwashes both Miles and Amy Rose while doing all this, and Sonic must rescue all of his friends by winning a pinball tournament: the "Egg Cup Tournament." This pinball adventure comes with a variety of different tables, fun effects, and creative environments. It's a solid pinball romp that you'll want to take out of your pocket and engage in while on the go, especially if you're still kicking around with your GBA. You'll definitely want to dive deep into this one so you can join the sub-section of Sonic fans that christen it one of the more forgotten and underrated Sonic games.

Buy Now, $64.72
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