Sonic the Hedgehog, one of gaming’s most recognizable mascots, used to be synonymous with Sega’s console hardware. Now he can be found on multiple platforms, including iOS. Sonic made his iOS debut with straight ports of his early-90s Sega Genesis games, but since then, he’s starred in more than a few original games designed specifically for mobile.
Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2
When Sonic first appeared on iOS, we were delighted to see a Genesis classic ported to mobile. Unfortunately, the launch version wasn’t what we were hoping for. Sega’s iOS emulator was slow and clunky, which made Sonic plodding instead of quick. Fortunately, a major app update earlier this year corrected all of our concerns, and added new extras for long-time fans. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 hasn’t received a similar upgrade, but its superior level design and the appearance of Sonic’s little buddy Tails mean it’s a more enjoyable game. If you’re looking for old-school nostalgia, these original Sonic games are a great place to start.
Key Quote: “The game still sports its classic 16-bit graphics, but now it runs with silky smoothness, with controls so tight you might not even miss the chunky Genesis controller.”
Key Quote: “As in the original Sonic 2, the levels are sprawling and excellently crafted. Each one has long speedways, carefully placed enemies, and multiple looping paths that lead you to the goal. And it’s a good thing you can take different paths, because you’ll be replaying levels often.”
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and 2
Although Sonic the Hedgehog 3 isn’t available on iOS, once you beat the first two games you can jump straight to the fourth, which is split into two episodes. Sonic 4 features outstanding new graphics, which keep with the series’ familiar visual style but add new 3D elements to the backgrounds and characters. You can also use your iPhone’s tilt to control a minecart level, in addition to a few trippy new bonus levels. In both episodes we had some issues with the controls and physics, but overall, they’re still a lot of fun to play.
Key Quote: “Despite not being the next superb Sonic platformer, what it does do right, it does exceptionally well. For example, the great visuals really scream classic Sonic to us.”
Key Quote: “Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II isn’t a bad game by any means, but it’s hampered by spotty controls and sluggish physics. For most fans, these issues won’t be deal breakers.”
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Although Sonic usually travels by foot, in this kart racing game he and all his fellow licensed characters pilot vehicles on their way to the finish line. Inspired by Mario Kart, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has themed levels from a panoply of Sega games, including Crazy Taxi and Super Monkey Ball. Steering using your iOS device’s tilt controls is extremely fun, and the unlockable characters and tracks will keep you playing for a long time. Sonic & Sega All-Stars is easily one of the best kart racers available for iOS.
Key Quote: “Every character, kart, track, and sound effect feels like it fits right in. Racing with Dr. Eggman through a Mexican fiesta straight out of Samba de Amigo, or sending Jet Set Radio’s Beat swooping in a Green Hill Zone loop-de-loop never gets old.”
The jump from Sega Genesis to Sega CD was a costly one in the mid-90s, but with today’s mobile technology, you don’t even need a different device to play this highly-evolved Sonic game. Sonic CD is a briskly-paced action game where you can time-travel between different eras and alter the future by destroying robot generators. Sonic CD also has impressively precise movement controls, and a series of huge boss battles that can be a bit intimidating. All this, plus a wild animated intro, make Sonic CD a clear Must Have.
Key Quote: “The game runs with amazing smoothness, and the controls are as responsive as you could hope. As you zip through the game’s many worlds, you almost forget your fingers are touching nothing but glass.”
Sonic Jump is interesting because it takes Sonic’s signature move– running horizontally at high speeds– and literally turns it on its side. In Sonic Jump, Sonic has to jump vertically past platforms containing spikes and robotic creatures, collecting coins and power-ups on his way to the top. With its simple gameplay, Sonic Jump is well-suited to the mobile platform, and it features attractive visuals and challenging level design. We actually like it more than the original Doodle Jump.
Key Quote: “Overall Sonic Jump offers a ton of fun, and a million reasons to keep coming back. We haven’t seen a game bring this much creativity to a seemingly dead genre in a long time. Whether you grew up with Sonic or not, Sonic Jump is a total blast.”
Sega’s latest Sonic game is their take on the auto-running genre. Similar to Temple Run, in Sonic Dash you control Sonic from an over-the-shoulder view, steering him through rows of rings while trying to avoid pits and other obstacles. The cinematic camera isn’t perfect, though, so you might have some unexpected crashes, and the game is stingy with the premium currency that’s required to unlock more characters. Still, we’re glad to see Sonic back to running around like he should, instead of jumping or driving a car.
Key Quote: “Sonic Dash isn’t a bad game as an endless runner, but Sonic fans might notice that the game has a certain lack of depth and variety when compared with his more traditional fare, or even other iOS games such as his own Sonic Jump or fellow mascot runner Rayman Jungle Run.”
Next week, our 50 Best Game Series on iOS continues with Telltale’s puzzle-themed adventure games, Puzzle Agent 1 and 2.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.