8 Best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog Games, Ranked

October 19, 2023 by No Comments

Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega’s pride and joy. The hedgehog is old enough to speed into the third dimension. Sonic hasn’t always found its footing while making that transition, but there are plenty of games that range from good to very fun. In this list we are ranking the 8 best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games.

8. Sonic Unleashed

Sonic Unleashed 3D heralds the “Boost” era of Sonic. After the dismal performance of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) the game gave the Blue Blur a much-needed change of direction. Sonic Unleashed explores the Day and Night system. During the day, the Sonic action rushes through the stages. However, the nighttime stages unleash Sonic the Werehog. In his werehog form, Sonic trades speed for hack and slash gameplay that gets repetitive.

Nighttime stages can really drag, but daytime stages keep us coming back. The fun aspect of Sonic Unleashed is literally night and day. Game consoles of the time had a hard time handling the processing speed of the Hedgehog Engine. You owe it to yourself to play the stages during the day on fan ports or Xbox Series X. Stages run better and Sonic’s speed is fully realized in Sonic Unleashed.

7. Sonic 3D Blast

Sonic’s journey into the 3D realm begins with Sonic 3D Blast on the Sega Genesis/Master System. It’s arguable if the game really counts as 3D, but the term is in the game’s title so it passes. Sega drew inspiration from Donkey Kong Country for its pre-rendered graphics, and owes its isometric perspective to Super Mario RPG. As you might expect for its time, Sonic 3D Blast doesn’t control like your typical Sonic game.

It might be a rough mess, but Sonic 3D Blast controls nicely for the direction the series has gone. Apart from the goal, Sonic must collect flicks to open additional parts of the zones he explores. The special stages are not very thrilling. Finally, Genesis/Master System Sonic 3D Blast’s soundtrack doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This is a solid composition that you must listen to. Some of the tracks appear in Sonic Adventure.

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6. Sonic Heroes

Sonic Heroes is the first game in the main series to be released for multiple consoles. This Sonic game has an interesting premise that was initially explored in Knuckles Chaotics. That’s the ability of the characters to team up in groups of three and use their unique strengths. Action steps work around speed, flight and power abilities. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles possess these abilities, as do members of Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotics, respectively. That’s a total of 12 playable characters.

Even though you play the same action stages, the gameplay fundamentals are also slightly different between each team. Team Sonic is a balanced experience, with Team Dark serving as the game’s hard mode and Team Rose as the easy mode. Team Chaotics has a more unique feature where players must complete an action phase to complete a specific objective. Unsurprisingly, Sonic Heroes has an amazing soundtrack.

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5. Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontiers is the latest 3D Sonic game on this list and the first to explore the possibilities of the open-world genre. This Sonic game isn’t without its flaws, including texture pop-in, a tedious level-up system, and homing attacks that don’t always connect with the intended target. Additionally, the combat system may be a step up from Sonic Unleashed, but it’s still very simple and easily repetitive.

However, Sonic Frontiers represents a promising future that Sonic Team could improve upon for future 3D Sonic games. Open World Sonic works and is a fertile playground. To its credit, you can sink hours into Sonic Frontiers running around the world exploring obstacles, solving puzzles, or racing as fast as you can across the map. We’re not complaining about the free DLC either. The scope of Sonic Frontiers makes it the top 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game.

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4. Sonic Adventure

The Sega Dreamcast launched alongside Sonic’s most daring leap into 3D platforming. Sure, it’s not the best game on this list but out of all the 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic Adventure is the most influential game. The game has a lineup of six playable characters and each one is different in terms of gameplay. Big the Cat, however, has his action steps a huge departure from every other playable character. Sure, the lip-syncing in the voice-overs isn’t great either.

The hub worlds, while not as large as they appeared in 1999, are still really fun to explore to uncover entrances to the action stages. Action stages are the real meat of Sonic Adventure. Some stages have spotty collision detection but there are many types that overlook these minor issues. The music is fantastic with some of Jun Senou and Crush 40’s best work. Sonic Adventure also debuted the fan-favorite Chao Garden, where players can raise and compete in activities with lovable creatures.

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3. Sonic Colors

Sonic Colors did what Sonic Unleashed couldn’t, and that was take the great concepts of the daytime stages and focus solely on that gameplay direction. Gone is the hack and slash gameplay of Sonic the Werehog to make way for faster platforming. The game’s boss fights aren’t entirely challenging, and winning these exchanges can be repetitive. The competitive multiplayer mode is ultimately forgettable. The highlight, and much of the joy, of Sonic Colors comes from the various planetoids that Sonic can explore. Each planet has many actions and challenges to overcome and makes for replay value.

This Sonic game marks the introduction of Wisps. Sonic has these spectral buddies imbuing him with enhanced abilities. Associated with the Wisp Sonic, these abilities include drilling through the stage, speeding into the sky like a rocket, and gliding through rings like a laser beam, destroying enemies in the path of the beam. Sonic Colors is a top 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game and its remastered port is worth it.

2. Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic’s first adventure on the Sega Dreamcast was promising. With Sonic Adventure 2, the game tried to improve on what came before and Sonic Team delivered an unforgettable project. Sonic Adventure 2 trades hub worlds in favor of linear storytelling. By splitting the game’s campaigns into Hero and Dark, the change is reduced to exploring the same reused action stages. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are locked in a fight with their foils, Dr. Eggman, and newcomers Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat, respectively.

Sonic Adventure 2 couldn’t fix the recurring problem of the panning camera. Still feels like grabbing or pulling some invisible object. However, this glaring issue pales in comparison to the scope of this adventure. The game is colorful, challenging, fun, has great music (Escape from the City, anyone?), and keeps the fun coming for years. Sonic Adventure 2 is easily one of the best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games you’ll ever play.

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1. Sonic Generations

What can you say about Sonic Generations, what it stands for and celebrating the legacy of Sonic the Hedgehog? In retrospect, you could say that Generations did for 3D what Sonic Mania did for 2D Sonic. And 2D Sonic. Sonic Generations is a delightful pairing of classic Sonic and modern Sonic gameplay. In fact, you play as iterations of Sonic during the Genesis/Mega Drive days and the Dreamcast era.

Classic era stages are given a modern reimagining. Still, it’s just as awesome to see classic Sonic dash through recent Sonic games. This smooth transition between 2D and 3D planes feels very balanced. Admittedly the detail added to its presentation, its music and the history of the series made it an instant classic. In short, with a Sonic spin on it, Sonic Unleashed crawled so Sonic Colors could run as Sonic Generations ran. And then came Sonic Forces, but we’ll save that for a later list. Sonic Generations is undoubtedly the best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game to date.

What is your favorite 3D Sonic game? Let us know in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to check out our list of the 10 best 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games.

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