Here at NAG we previously discussed a couple of excellent fan-created Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic Fan Remix and Sonic 2 HD. While they are the flashiest and most noteworthy projects to come out the Sonic fangaming scene, it doesn’t end there. There are literally tons of such games, most of which are understandably lacklustre. However, we’ve managed to find a few that we think anybody who ever owned a Mega Drive should try. All games are for Windows only unless otherwise stated.
Sonic: Before the Sequel
What happened between Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Most fans would say “Sonic CD”, but indie developer LakeFeperd has other ideas. Before the Sequel looks and plays mostly like an old-school Sonic game but it takes liberties by introducing new gimmicks and cutscenes. The game switches between Sonic and Tails and documents how they ran into each other, how they gained their special moves, how they ended up in Emerald Hill Zone and how Dr. Robotnik’s Death Egg was built and launched. Some of the levels are a bit on the bland side and parts of the graphics look like MS Paint-fodder, but it’s a lengthy and complete Sonic game that wouldn’t have been out of place on the old SEGA consoles. If that’s not enough, there’s currently a sequel in development set to take place between Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic 3. Obtain it yonder.
Sonic Robo Blast 2
I’ll be honest here: Sonic Robo Blast 2’s visuals are actually rather ugly. It has an amateurish, cardboard look and misaligned textures are everywhere. But don’t be fooled; it’s a surprisingly solid 3D platform game that manages to pull off the classic Sonic feel while at the same time having an identity all its own. Based on a heavily-modified and much more advanced DOOM engine, the game has very challenging (sometimes frustrating) levels, multiplayer and loads of mods and add-on map sets. While technically still a work in progress, it nonetheless offers a pretty complete gaming experience. It features FPS-style deathmatching where players use rings as both weapons and health. It may not be too pretty but there’s a lot of love and it’s an excellent example of gameplay trumping graphics. Spin-dash here to get it (includes Linux, Mac, PSP and Dreamcast ports).
Sonic Classic really feels like a long-lost Sonic game that somehow went missing in the Mega Drive muddle. Modelled on Sonic 3‘s sensibilities, it features six zones, dozens of challenges, unlockables, cameos from Nack the Weasel and Silver Sonic and a very sweet soundtrack consisting of remixes and covers of music from previous Sonic games. Unfortunately it is the buggiest of the bunch, but for the most part it doesn’t subtract from the overall enjoyment. Windows Vista and 7 users will want to run it as administrator. Acquire it thusly.
Honourable mention: Retro-Sonic
One of the first fangames to look and play like a proper old Sonic title, Retro-Sonic has since ceased development. However, the engine was the basis for the more recent re-release of Sonic CD. The demos available only contain a handful of levels (the 2007 version just has one original zone and one remake of Emerald Hill Zone) but it’s still a blast to play. You’ll find it hither (with Mac and Dreamcast versions).