Five Great Games to Extend the Sonic Frontiers Rush

Sonic Frontiers is finally here, and as should probably be expected by now, has been met with mixed reception. Is it good? Is it bad? Perhaps it’s both and neither at the same time. For those who’re just excited to go on a new adventure with their favorite blue hedgehog, though, the fact that it’s functional and plays decently is probably enough. What might not be so satisfactory though is that it, like its predecessors, isn’t a terribly long game. That Sonic groove will need to be channeled somewhere, so why not put it into even more Sonic fun?

Sonic Origins

Sonic Origins - Sonic CD - Metal Soni
It might be strange seeing this one here considering the shadiness surrounding its launch and its overly high price, but Sonic Origins is nonetheless now the most accessible way to play the original Sega Genesis and Sega CD games. It’s also pretty much the *only* convenient way to play Sonic CD since Sega delisted it ahead this collection’s launch back in May. Those that still have older systems like the Gamecube might be better off investing in Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection, but Sonic Origins is the best way to play these days for everyone else.

Sonic Generations

Considering just how beloved this game wound up being, it’s kind of amazing that Sega still hasn’t properly followed up on it. Sure, the company sort of tried to with Sonic Forces, but it only managed to replicate the aesthetic and not even all that well. It’s too bad, because Sonic Generations is basically the best of both worlds. Its 2D stages have most of the flow and platforming fun of the originals, and the 3D stages often do a great job of delivering that blinding sense of speed fans tend to want from a Sonic game.

Features like the character challenges don’t always work, and many of us are still wondering why Sonic Team felt the next to insert 2D segments in the 3D stages. But, it’s still a great celebration that holds up over ten years later. It’s even still available on the Xbox Store, but grabbing a cheap Xbox 360 disc is the better option for those who still have disc drives.

Sonic Colors

Depending on who’s asked, there’s only a few good Sonic games overall and only a small fraction of those come from the 3D era. Sonic Generations is one of them and so is Sonic Colors. It originally came out in 2010 in the wake of what is still perhaps the worst streak of releases in the series’ history. Seriously, this one came out not too long after the likes of Sonic ’06, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight and Sonic Unleashed. Unleashed was at least considered “okay,” but the whole “werehog” thing was still at the peak of its cringy infamy.

To the surprise of those who still went out and picked it up, though, Sonic Colors turned out to be a much needed breath of fresh air for the series and a desperately needed reminder that Sonic could still be fun. Its wisps and the special abilities they granted Sonic as he sped through the stages are still a stroke of creativity of a type that still hasn’t been met yet. The combat abilities in Sonic Frontiers are a decent effort no doubt, but they don’t blend with the formula nearly as well.

Sonic Adventure 2: Battle

After the success of Sonic Adventure, Sonic Team made an uncharacteristic decision: it opted *not* to start completely from scratch for once and actually tried to build upon the good aspects of the game. This resulted in something that, unsurprisingly, wound up being even better: Sonic Adventure 2. More than that, the team opted to refine it even further for its final iteration on the Gamecube: Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. While it’s not perfect, it was good enough to still be celebrated by older fans as one the best in the series.

Sonic Adventure 2: Battle offered three main styles of gameplay in the form of blazing fast speed courses, expansive treasure hunting levels and even shoot-’em-up platforming stages. The latter two are hit and miss, but the team knocked it out the park with the Sonic and Shadow-centric speed levels. In fact, these levels and their sheer sense of speed are what many fans remember best about the game. They were just that good!

Everything else: the story, the hokey voice acting, the music and the very “early-2000s” aesthetic all sort of get mixed together in a kind of nostalgia soup. It’s a good soup, but it’s not what makes the game playable twenty years later. (Except maybe “Live and Learn” by Crush 40; that song is still super hype!) Of course, Sonic Team immediately went back to their old, bad, “throw everything out after every game,” habits after this one and we’ve never gotten a sequel like this since. It seems success doesn’t always encourage learning, eh?

Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania - Best Buddies
When Sonic Mania came out in 2017, everyone joked that it took a Sonic modder to make a proper Sonic game. Depending on how one feels about Sonic Frontiers, that might still ring true. Sonic Mania was and is basically everything fans of the old-school games want out of a new 2D entry. It remixes old favorites into new creations, expands upon the old special stages and makes them feel new again and it offers truly inspired new traversal mechanics in all stages. What’s truly amazing, though, is that it all fits together so naturally that the new stuff doesn’t truly *feel* new. Rather, it all feels like something that was meant to be there all along, as if the original Sonic Team itself had thought of it but never had a chance to implement.

If Sonic Mania had consisted entirely of remixed classic stages with new mechanics, the game would still probably have been considered great, but it’s a mix of both remixed old *and* completely original stages. It’s in those wholly new creations that the creativity shines brightest. Popping out of popcorn machines, racing along water paths through a moving train and getting beamed across the airways are only some of incredible things Sonic and ALL his old buddies get to do in these stages, and it’s a blast.

In many ways, Sonic Mania is just as much a celebration of Sonic as Sonic Generations is; it’s just from a long-time fan’s perspective rather than Sega’s. It’s classic Sonic as fans have always remembered it: bright, goofy, imaginative, loud, and most importantly, so fast that the screen can barely keep up sometimes. It’s the standard that Sega itself spent the entirety of the 00’s trying to reach and it’ll likely be the gold standard Sonic experience for a long while to come.

As with most series of course, the best and worst entries are a matter of personal taste. One fan’s lowest entry might just be the series’ high point for another. With the mixed reception it’s been getting, perhaps Sonic Frontiers too will have a nebulous position in the greater Sonic franchise. Perhaps it’ll be remembered fondly as one of the greats and maybe it won’t. As with most things, it’s going to take some time to figure out.

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