Image: Nintendo Life

Update: Now with 100% more Sonic Superstars.

Remember that this is a dynamic reader-ranked list that re-orders automatically depending on each game’s rating in our database.

In order to rate any of the games on the list below out of 10, logged-in Nintendo Life users can simply tap the ‘star’ and assign each game a personal rating. Enjoy!

It was back in 1991 that Sonic the Hedgehog — the blue dude with the most ‘tude — first burst forth onto the Mega Drive in Japan and Sega finally presented a credible challenger for the platforming crown Nintendo’s jumping plumber had been wearing since the mid-1980s. In the decades since, the blue blur has starred in a host of platform games: some 2D, others 3D, some fantastic, others not so much.

Regardless of his myriad hits and misses, Sonic has proven that he has something far more important than merely his speed and aforementioned ‘tude: Sonic’s got staying power.

To celebrate his 30th birthday we asked Nintendo Life readers to rank every 2D Sonic game, and by combining the results with an existing list of the 3D games, we can now present to you the definitive ranking of every Sonic game ever — the ones that appeared on a Nintendo platform, that is (sorry-not-sorry Sonic 2006).

Remember: the order below is updated in real-time according to each game’s corresponding User Rating in the Nintendo Life game database. Even as you read this, it’s entirely possible to influence the ranking below. If you haven’t rated your favourites yet, simply click the ‘star’ of the game you wish to rate below and assign a score right now.

So, grab a chili dog and a companion from your ever more ragtag bunch of sidekicks, and let’s check out the best (and worst) Sonic games on Nintendo systems.

Please note: We’re only featuring Sonic platformers that have appeared on Nintendo platforms — be it as part of a collection or as an individual release — so you won’t find Knuckles Chaotix or Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure or anything that’s not a platform game (no Mean Bean Machine or Tails’ Skypatrol shmup action or Sonic Drift karting, then).

Also, the 8-bit Sonics that appeared on both Master System and Game Gear are only featured once below. And finally, Sonic Spinball — or Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, to give the game its full and proper title — was an edge case, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to exclude it. If its presence offends you, just imagine it isn’t there and bump everything below it up one spot. Easy!

Okay, ready now? Prepare for some excellent Erinaceidae platforming. Just not straightaway…

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Big Red Button

Release Date: 11th Nov 2014 (USA) / 21st Nov 2014 (UK/EU)

Part of a cross-media rebrand for Sonic and the gang — now with added tape and neckwear — Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was a po-faced, misguided attempt at a reboot that presented stretched out redesigns of the main characters and gave you a largely-vacant open world to explore. Its audio was passably entertaining, but a host of technical issues and questionable decisions made this a disappointment on every other level.

Sonic Labyrinth (GG)Sonic Labyrinth (GG)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Minato Giken

Release Date: Nov 1995 (USA) / 10th May 2012 (UK/EU)

This isometric Game Gear title from Minato Giken had you exploring four maze-like levels for keys to open a goal gate and battling a boss at the end of three Acts. With uninspiring level design and slow, soupy movement, this is a ‘3D’ Sonic that removes the key ingredients of a Sonic game. Sonic Labyrinth was available for 3DS, but is only really for masochistic Sonic completionists.

Sonic Blast (GG)Sonic Blast (GG)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Aspect

Release Date: Nov 1996 (USA) / 14th Jun 2012 (UK/EU)

Sonic Blast is a perfectly competent 2D Sonic game that released on Game Gear (and Master System in Brazil), and it’s worth a dabble for interested parties and hardcore fans. It was included in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, a compilation which expanded the number of games on GameCube’s Sonic Mega Collection but never released on a Nintendo console, but Blast also came to Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console as an individual release and is one of the GG offerings in Sonic Origins Plus. It’s a fun curio for fans, but very far from the best of Sonic’s 8-bit escapades.

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS)Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sanzaru Games

Release Date: 11th Nov 2014 (USA) / 21st Nov 2014 (UK/EU)

There’s plenty to enjoy in Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, but it’s nothing revolutionary. It was one of the better Sonic outings at the time, but unfortunately that’s not saying an awful lot. If you’re a Sonic fan or you enjoy platformers, you could do a lot worse, but SBSC (as almost nobody called it) won’t be troubling many a Sonic fan’s top 10 list.

Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA Studio USA

Release Date: 20th Feb 2007 (USA) / 2nd Mar 2007 (UK/EU)

The first Sonic game for Wii, this Arabian Nights-themed take on the 3D formula put Sonic centre stage as the only playable character. Sonic and the Secret Rings used the console’s unique controller in an on-rails adventure which looked lovely, but arguably failed to nail the hedgehog’s 2D appeal in the third dimension. Like many of Sonic’s 3D games, it has fun or interesting elements, but they don’t cohere into a satisfying whole.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (WiiWare)Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (WiiWare)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Dimps

Release Date: 11th Oct 2010 (USA) / 15th Oct 2010 (UK/EU)

2D purists had begged for many years to see a return to a ‘classic’ Sonic game — one with no dialogue, no cutscenes, and no sidekicks. In more recent times the wonderful Sonic Mania delivered exactly what fans had dreamed of for so long, and there’s a strong argument that Sonic Superstars is what Sonic 4 really should have been. But in 2010 Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 was Sega’s answer to the old-school crowd.

A WiiWare release with a dozen side-scrolling stages, it satiated a portion of fans at the time. However, basic locomotion was incredibly soupy compared to the 16-bit classics, and the game is tough to return to these days (and we don’t just mean because it’s no longer purchasable via the Wii Shop). Nintendo gamers never got the follow-up, and no Episode 3 was ever produced.

Shadow The Hedgehog (GCN)Shadow The Hedgehog (GCN)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA Studio USA

Release Date: 15th Nov 2005 (USA) / 18th Nov 2005 (UK/EU)

If you ever wondered what a Sonic game crossed with a third-person shooter would be like, Shadow the Hedgehog is your answer. This spin-off followed on from Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes and took the series on a ‘darker’, more ‘mature’ route. It’s arguably not as poor as its reputation suggests, although it suffers from much of the inelegance and poor level design of other lesser Sonic adventures. The attempt to produce a grittier version of Sonic comes off as hopelessly try-hard, but that approach has its fans — as does Shadow the Hedgehog.

Sonic 3D Blast (MD)Sonic 3D Blast (MD)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Travellers Tales

Release Date: 19th Nov 2007 (USA) / 2nd Nov 2007 (UK/EU)

As a technical showpiece for the ageing Genesis / Mega Drive, Traveller’s Tales Sonic 3D Blast (or Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island as it’s known in Europe) is an admirable stab at the Sonic formula in isometric 3D. The visuals capture the look of the hedgehog’s checkerboard Zones well enough, but its sluggish controls and overall reduced pace compared to the 2D classics reduce it to the status of intriguing also-ran.

Far from essential, then, but also not the bottom of the barrel.

Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sonic Team

Release Date: 10th Mar 2009 (USA) / 13th Mar 2009 (UK/EU)

“You know what Sonic needs? A sword — a talking one, if poss!” said nobody ever, except that one person in the meeting where they came up with Sonic and the Black Knight. This title continues the ‘Storybook’ series that began with Secret Rings and puts Sonic in an Arthurian adventure that introduced Wii-waggle sword fighting for good measure.

It’s about as good as that sounds, and while it’s not without moments of charm, the execution here just doesn’t cut it. We’re left with another mediocre-to-poor entry in Sonic’s 3D catalogue.

Sonic Spinball (GG)Sonic Spinball (GG)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA Technical Institute

Release Date: Sep 1994 (USA) / Aug 1994 (UK/EU)

Sonic Spinball in itself is a pretty decent spin-off title that showcased reasonably decent visuals and gameplay for the Genesis, but the Game Gear version undoubtedly suffers from the necessary downgrades to get the game running competently. Gameplay feels clunky and the music is a bit of a mess. Still, it’s not a terrible effort, all told.

Sonic Forces (Switch)Sonic Forces (Switch)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sonic Team

Release Date: 7th Nov 2017 (USA) / 7th Nov 2017 (UK/EU)

Combining Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in a similar way to Sonic Generations, this was a less successful take on the formula. It’s a mixed bag of 3D, 2D and narrative that in many ways typifies the last two decades of Sonic games, with the player often feeling like a onlooker than a participant in the action. A younger audience may be more forgiving, but Sonic veterans have been here and done it all before.