The best Sonic the Hedgehog video games of all-time

Paramount, Sega
Paramount, Sega /
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Sonic CD (Sonic the Hedgehog CD) – 1993 – Sega CD

Sega released the Sega CD in 1992 as an “add-on” peripheral for the Sega Genesis. The device was ahead of its time, but the Sega CD was not a financial success. The library for the Sega CD had a few good games but largely consisted of Genesis ports and that terrible full-motion-video (FMV) games that were really “interactive movies” (often poorly received). However, one title stood out for both its critical and commercial success: Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sonic CD). Sonic CD maintained the core 2D side-scrolling series gameplay while implementing a “time-travel” concept that changed the level’s current landscape into a “past” or “future” version.

Sega handpicked Sonic’s co-creator Naoto Ohshima to direct Sonic’s first CD-based adventure. Sega then ambitiously assembled a development team of programmers who worked on other Genesis hits like Streets of Rage and Golden Axe II. The game’s story introduced prominent characters like Amy Rose and Metal Sonic after its initial conception of being an enhanced Sonic 2 port. It even featured a fully animated intro and ending by Toei Animation (a renown Japanese animation studio).

Sonic CD was the most successful Sega CD game released, although Sega bizarrely never included it as part of a bundle (instead using Sewer Shark, one of the worst video games ever made). The time-travel mechanic added incredible innovations to the series gameplay, which allowed for some unique level designs not possible on the Genesis alone. The Sega CD’s limited library made it easier for Sonic CD to stand out among the best on the system, but Sonic fans today still consider it one of the all-time best Sonic games today.