The Sonic The Hedgehog series has been around since the early nineties, which is a long time to release a range of iconic titles. While some franchises tend to stick to what they know works best, the Sonic series has never been afraid to try tons of different gameplay styles.
The experimental nature of the Sonic franchise hasn’t always worked out, but when it has worked, fans have been treated to some surprising gems. Even more surprising, some of the best Sonic spin-off games don’t even feature the blue blur as the main character.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Fans of the mainline Sonic games may be shocked to learn that there was a surprisingly fun Sonic RPG that was released on the Nintendo DS back in 2008. While it was a rather significant departure from the gameplay fans of the series are used to, it does set out to tell an ambitious story.
The Dark Brotherhood plays like most standard RPGs, with the player exploring various worlds and taking part in turn-based battles with various enemies. It may not be the deepest combat system, but the team did attempt to integrate the use of the DS’s touch features in order to keep combat feeling exciting.
Many Sonic fans name Tails as their favorite character. Fans of the character may be hoping to one day get a solo Tails game, but they might be surprised to find out that one was already released for the Game Gear back in 1995.
The game slows down the typical Sonic gameplay and instead lets players focus on exploring levels with Tails. The game may have a different focus, but it still retains the typical Sonic artstyle, just with its own Tails spin.
Team Sonic Racing
While it feels like every console or company mascot has a racing game nowadays, Team Sonic Racing is one of the few that can stand up against the behemoth that is Mario Kart.
While the single-player experience can feel lacking for many gamers, the strength in many kart-racers comes from the ability to play with friends, and Team Sonic Racing does that with a Sonic flare here. Players can pick their favorite racer style of either speed, power, or technique to see who amongst their friends are the best racer.
Plenty of Sonic fans think that Sonic is at his best when his goal is to go fast, but plenty of his spin-offs have slowed the blue blur down considerably. Sonic Battle, which was released back in 2003 for the Gameboy Advance, slowed Sonic down into a bombastic fighting game.
While another rather weak Sonic fighting game may come to mind when you think of a Sonic fighter, Sonic Battle was a breath of fresh air. While relatively simplistic thanks to its home on the Gameboy Advance, the game is packed with a full story and plenty of different fighters to utilize.
Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
While Sonic’s many attempts at party games haven’t all gone as well as some may have hoped, the continued Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games series has become a staple in the genre. The simplicity of being able to play quick events with friends while controlling your favorite character from the two monster franchises is the game’s biggest strength.
Hardcore gamers may find the mini-games to be a bit too simple, but for younger gamers and families who rarely game, Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a great pick for family game night.
Shadow The Hedgehog
Back in 2005, the controversial GameCube, PS2, and Xbox title, Shadow The Hedgehog was released to mixed reception. The game tried to tell an ambitious story with a lot of different split paths. This allowed players to experience a number of different stories and levels depending on their actions within levels.
While the game itself has a few mechanics it might be better of without, many gamers still find it to be a joy to make their way through when they can ignore the somewhat poorly implemented gun mechanics. The sleek graphics and excellent music are likely to feel right at home for Sonic fans.
Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
While some gamers of the modern era may be quick to scoff at a spin-off pinball game, it’s hard to deny just how good Sonic Spinball was. The game is emblematic of the early days of Sonic’s lore, and jumping into the first level of Sonic Spinball makes that clear in a hurry.
Rather than a standard pinball game, players are tasked with collecting the Chaos Emeralds throughout the game’s levels and defeating various bosses. Once the four emeralds are collected and all the bosses are defeated, the game ends, making it quick and replayable.
It seems that for every dedicated Sonic fan, there’s an equally dedicated Knuckles fan. When the echidna originally debuted, fans loved Sonic's brash rival, so it wasn’t all that shocking when he got his own game on the Sega 32X.
One look at the presentation of the game makes it clear that this is one of the best-looking early Sonic games by a longshot. With five different playable characters, six long levels, and a stand-off against Dr. Robotnik and Metal Sonic, Knuckles Chaotix is an underappreciated gem. Or, would that be Chaos Emerald?
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
One of the weirdest, but incredibly addictive Sonic spin-offs, features Sonic’s greatest foe in a new light. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is a fun and sometimes hectic puzzle game that was released for the Sega Genesis back in 1993.
While the idea of a puzzle game in the Sonic series may be a strange concept to many gamers, anyone with even a slight interest in the genre should give it a shot at some point. The simple gameplay lets players take on enemies of varying difficulty in a standard but addicting falling block puzzle game.
Players may be enjoying Sonic’s car racers nowadays, but many hardcore fans are likely to point to Sonic Riders as not only one of the best Sonic spin-off games, but also one of the best Sonic games in general.
With some of the quickest and most exciting gameplay in the entire franchise, Sonic Riders put a lot of racing games to shame. The gameplay can be tough to get the hang of at first, but players that really dig into the mechanics will find some of the most rewarding gameplay in the series.
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