With the recent release of Sonic Mania, many people on sites such as Reddit have been asking which are the best 2D Sonic games to give them a pleasant introduction to the series. Here is the definitive list of the five best 2D Sonic games you need to play if you find yourself captivated by the Mania.
The Five Best 2D Sonic Games to give you the Sonic Mania
5. Sonic Advance (GBA)
Sonic Advance is a great 2D Sonic game if you’re short for time. Despite being a lesser known title in the blue hedgehog’s repertoire, this game features everything that makes the Genesis titles great. It does a great job of introducing you to the core mechanics of the series, such as the momentum-based game play and different play-styles, offering a great deal of replay-ability. The artwork in this game is also incredibly expressive. In fact, the Sonic Advance series inspired Paul Veer, the animator of the Knuckles and Tails sprites in Sonic Mania. The only reason this game isn’t higher on this list is due to the games frustratingly limited field of view. If you want to pick it up, it’s available on the Gameboy Advance, and on the Wii U eShop.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis/Mega-Drive)
No, not the 2006 reboot. Sonic the Hedgehog, released in 1991, was a game designed to rival Nintendo’s flagship game, Super Mario Bros. This rivalry between SEGA and Nintendo spawned a game that has a heavy focus on platforming, but differentiates itself from other games in the genre with high-speed action. If you’re looking for a more modern platforming experience, you may find Sonic 1 outdated and punishing, with some of the level design seemingly working against the ‘gotta go fast’ mentality. If you’re into platforming, then this will be a great start for you. However, if you want something less precise, another game in the series may be more appealing. The game is very accessible, as it’s available on a number of modern platforms.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (Genesis/Mega-Drive)
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles is considered by many fans to be the best 2D, if not the best Sonic game ever made. Sonic 3 & Knuckles balances the speed of Sonic 2 with the platforming of Sonic 1. It also incorporates Sonic CDs focus on exploration into the mix by encouraging you to explore your surroundings. Sonic 3 & Knuckles introduces elemental shields and the insta-shield ability, which add some extra depth to the gameplay. The save feature may also make it less frustrating than its predecessors, as it makes game-overs a lot less painful. However, the game is exceptionally long in comparison, so it may be overwhelming to newcomers. Unfortunately, Sonic 3 & Knuckles isn’t as widely available as Sonic 1 or Sonic 2, but is available on low-spec PCs on Steam.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis/Mega-Drive)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the second best-selling Sonic game, with many claiming it to be the best 2D Sonic experience. Sonic 2 is a sequel that builds on Sonic’s unique speed, rather than the focus on platforming that the original has. If you’re looking to have more fun with the physics, Sonic 2 is perfect for you. It sports some of the speediest zones in the series such as ‘Chemical Plant’ and ‘Emerald Hill Zone’. Sonic 2 also has some very appealing set pieces, and establishes many staples of the series such as the Spin-Dash and the omnipresent casino-based levels. Like Sonic 1, it is available on a large variety of platforms, so it’s very easy to pick up and start playing.
1. Sonic Mania (Switch/PS4/Xbox One/PC)
Sonic Mania is the ultimate blend of every classic title. It draws from Sonic 2 with its great sense of speed, as well as Sonic 1 with a fair share of platforming. Mania is definitely one of the easier 2D Sonic titles, making it fun for even the newest of Sonic fans. The save feature also makes this game a lot less frustrating, something that both Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 lack. Sonic Mania runs beautifully at a full 60 frames per second, at crisp resolutions as high as 4K available on the PS4 Pro and PC. It is also very accessible, as it is available on all modern consoles and PC. Sonic Mania is definitely one of the best 2D Sonic games around, and it’s certainly the most pleasant introduction you could hope for to the world of 2D Sonic.