Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Andy: It’s Tetris, but with beans. Sort of. You have to connect 4 beans to make ‘em disappear, and they can be above or below each other. Why am I trying to explain how Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine works in the year 2017. I never thought I’d find myself in this position. It’s a good puzzle game, and certainly better than some of the shite Sonic spin-offs released over the years. IT’S TETRIS WITH BEANS. LEAVE ME ALONE.
Samuel: What are you on about, Andy? It's more like Columns, only good! I've probably played the challenge mode in this one more than any other game on this list. The Sonic connection is largely irrelevant, but fill me up with beans, baby.
Andy: Okay, then it’s COLUMNS WITH BEANS.
Phil: What's with the beans? Is there a lore reason for the beans?
Andy: From Wikipedia: “The game is set on the planet Mobius, which is inhabited by bean-like creatures. Dr. Robotnik conceives of a plan to bring terror to the world by kidnapping the citizens of Beanville and turning them into robot slaves, and eventually creating an army that will help him rid the planet of fun and joy.” Yes.
Phil: Wait, stop this list a second. Beanville? A sentient race of beans? How deep does this lore whole go? (And is this a vore thing? Because if so, I'm out.)
Andy: Apparently the next season of True Detective will be set in Beanville.
Phil: I quite liked Columns, but it was really pretentious for Shit Tetris.
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
Phil: Fuck, I've just realised. Tails' full name is Miles "Tails" Prower. Miles Prower. As in miles-per-hour. This changes everything.
Samuel: Oh my god, I never noticed that before. I always thought 'Prower' was an unusual surname for a fox.
Andy: Did you also know that Dr. Robotnik’s yellow collars and ‘tache are supposed to make him look like a walrus? Eggman. Walrus. I am the walrus. I am the eggman. The Beatles. Yeah? Man, Sonic lore is deep. So many layers.
Samuel: Holy crap. Mind ever so slightly blown, again! Why is he called Robotnik sometimes, then? Are they two different men, or did he rebrand for the purposes of career progression?
Phil: In the comics, he was originally a mild-mannered, thin scientist called Kintobor, but then there was an accident with the chaos emeralds and he transformed into an evil fat man, and also reversed his name for some reason? And his reversed name just happened to have the word 'robot' in it? It's possibly the most laboured case of nominative determinism in comics history.
Samuel: I resent the suggestion that you need an accident of some kind to become overweight and surly. I managed perfectly well without one, thanks.
Phil: You have to give it to Sega: this was genius. You've got some fairly good 2D throwback levels, and you structure them in such a way that to get to them, you have to endure all the 3D levels. It's like, no, you're not having your pudding. Not until you eat your weirdly paced, bullshit camera, getting stuck on bits of geometry you can't even see greens.
Samuel: There's a fairly big drop in quality between this game and the ones discussed on this list so far. The 3D levels were a case of, 'if we throw you along this pipe real fast, how long can you do it before you fall off?'. And the answer is, 'sometimes it's fine'. I liked that you could run through Sonic's timeline in that menu screen, though, Phil. And the 2D levels were some top nostalgia.
Phil: That was neat, but I did find that having two distinct timelines of Sonics raised some uncomfortable questions about determinism that I wasn't wholly prepared to deal with while playing an inoffensive platformer about a sassy hedgehog.
Sonic 4: Episode 1
Samuel: I liked this at the time, but I've been informed that the jumping is all wrong and the lock-on attack is sacrilegious. That's probably true, but after years of terrible 3D Sonic, this ticked enough boxes to please me. It's those sorts of gradually eroding standards on the part of Sonic's fanbase that's kept the series alive for so long. Sonic 4 had nice music, too.
Phil: I think every Sonic fan went through a collective hallucination brought about by decades of bad 3D games and convinced themselves this was good. I thought it was mostly OK, up until the final boss, which was a remixed version of Sonic 2's boss, but somehow even worse. Now I retroactively hate it all.
Sonic 4: Episode 2
Tom: How is there a second instalment of Sonic 4? How many hours of human endeavour have gone into making this much Sonic? Who is buying these? It’s just you lot, isn’t it.
Samuel: By the time this one came out, everyone decided they didn't like Sonic 4. And I didn't get around to playing this one, so maybe I wasn't as enamoured with Sonic 4 as I initially thought I was.
Sonic Adventure DX
Andy: Ten thousand years ago when I had a Dreamcast, I played the hell out of this. But now I can’t remember a thing about it except for a bit where you’re being chased by a killer whale. The memories of Sonic 2, however, are still branded on my brain with a Sonic-shaped hot poker. So that probably says it all. Sorry, Sonic Adventure.
Sonic: It was good for the time, but would anyone play a 3D Sonic game in 2017? On purpose? The PC avoided some of Sonic's 3D disasters and, to be honest, I thought this was a deeply underrated entry in the series. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that we’re all being a bit too harsh on Sonic here, he was just a blue hedgehog with dreams who had to go fast.
Tom: Sonic, WTF are you doing in here? Get out of this article before this gets awkward.
Phil: Wait! Before you go, what was with you kissing that human woman in Sonic 2006?
Andy: Sonic, why do you wear trainers but no pants?
Phil: In the cartoons, you're depicted as loving chilli dogs, but you live in a world of anthropomorphic animals. Isn't this indicative of some fairly heinous war crimes?
Sonic Adventure 2
Samuel: The same as above, only with '2' on the end.
Sonic: Lost World
Samuel: I reviewed the Wii U version of this for gamesTM, and boy it was the worst decision I made running that magazine. You run up a load of phallic levels in what amounts to a terrible Sonic cover version of Mario Galaxy. It's another 3D Sonic game where you fall off of things a lot because he's hard to control. Looks nice, though.
Sonic 3D Blast
Samuel: Actual toilet, and the first sign that Sonic in 3D was just plain not going to work. The move from pixel art to isometric 3D wasn't kind, and it didn't feel like it was made by the original Sonic Team, which might be because Traveller's Tales co-developed it. At least the Lego games were great, lads. If Sonic Unleashed was released on PC, though, I'd probably put that lower than this. And that Shadow the Hedgehog game. And Sonic 2006. Why didn't they release Knuckles' Chaotix on PC, either? I always wanted that as a kid.
Phil: I once completed this in a single sitting and thought it was good, because I was a child and children are bad and wrong and should never be trusted.
Tom: Fuck me, 2752 words about Sonic. I’m going home.
Knuckles: & Knuckles.