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After 24 years of 3D Sonic, do you think there is a definitive 3D Sonic game? Or have they always been junk?

Jul 24, 2016
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(Not including Sonic 3D Blast because it's not actually a full 3D game, 2.5D counts if there are polygons throughout the game)

In 1997 Sonic R was the first complete fully 3D Sonic title, and ever since then we got games like the Sonic Adventure games, Sonic Riders, Sonic Heroes, Shadow, 2006, Rivals, and much more.

3D Sonic has been highly controversial tor many, for several years, including most notably the change in critical opinion amongst reviewers between the initial releases of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 on the Dreamcast, and the re-release on GameCube a very short time later. When it comes to 3D Sonic, people's opinions have ranged from some 3D Sonic being the or among the best games in or out of the franchise, to being nearly unplayable junk.

But after 24 years of fully 3D Sonic titles, it's time we finally settle the score, some together, and come to a final verdict.

Has there been a definitive 3D Sonic game? Not only a game that is great in and outside the Sonic franchise, but is one of the best Sonic games overall? A definitive example of 3D Sonic done right or as close to right as possible and provides an amazing gaming experience?

Or,

That 3D Sonic has proven to be an unwinnable formula no matter how many ways they try to approach it? That It hasn't produced a good game and has always been poison compared to the rest of the franchise, and that they are generally meh to bad games in general, in or outside the franchise?


Because if these questions aren't answerable after 24 years of 3D Sonic titles, we have a problem
 
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Ozzie666

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Generations and Colors for me, have been some of the better entries. Adventures at the time of release was good, for the times. I'm not sure what they can do going forward. I look at something like Ratchet & Clank, I look at the PS5 hardware and just think it's the perfect storm to make a great new Sonic game, combining adventure and Generations somehow. Adventures hasn't aged well, doesn't mean it's not a bad concept to continue forward with.
 
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Nvzman

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Adventure 1 (not 2), Heroes, Unleashed, Colors, and Generations are all pretty damn good 3D Sonic games imo.
Adventure 1 aged horribly but the gameplay is still rock solid, all they had to do with Adventure 2 was open the levels up with even more pathways (and trim out Big) and it would have been an amazing 3D Sonic game. Instead we got the opposite.
I personally love Unleashed too for the sheer number of content (with all DLC you have something like 60 levels) and I even like the Werehog too. The scale of the game is crazy.
 

ManaByte

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Adventure 1 (not 2), Heroes, Unleashed, Colors, and Generations are all pretty damn good 3D Sonic games imo.
Adventure 1 aged horribly but the gameplay is still rock solid, all they had to do with Adventure 2 was open the levels up with even more pathways (and trim out Big) and it would have been an amazing 3D Sonic game. Instead we got the opposite.
I personally love Unleashed too for the sheer number of content (with all DLC you have something like 60 levels) and I even like the Werehog too. The scale of the game is crazy.

Really the only BAD 3D Sonic is 2006.
 

Unknown?

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Sonic Adventure remake by Bluepoint, please! I have a hard time choosing Generations or Adventure. Both are great.
 

ManaByte

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Sonic Adventure remake by Bluepoint, please! I have a hard time choosing Generations or Adventure. Both are great.

I was still working in retail in the lead up to the US DC launch. I had an import DC and made VHS tapes of the games to play in the store to help pre-orders. You don't know how many people pre-ordered the system just by seeing Adventure being played.
 

Kholinar

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3D Sonic as a viable concept is not as intangible as people think. Project Hero and Sonic Utopia overtly prove this. That being said, Unleashed's Day Stages and Colors are the best 3D Sonic has to offer, currently.
 

YCoCg

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Unleashed day stages, most of Colours and all of Generations was peak 3D Boost Sonic.
 

Unknown?

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I was still working in retail in the lead up to the US DC launch. I had an import DC and made VHS tapes of the games to play in the store to help pre-orders. You don't know how many people pre-ordered the system just by seeing Adventure being played.
Oh yeah I remember seeing it in magazines and ads, it was mind blowing for that time.
 

MAtgS

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The weird thing is on a certain the Adventure games are still the bet attempt at 3D, because they were actual attempts at translating the Genesis gameplay to 3D. Then they got carried away with gimmicks like team-swapping, guns, & especially the boost mechanic. Like how is it they've never just simply done "like S3&K, but 3D"? Sonic Adventure style Sonic levels, but Tails, Knuckles, & whoever has alternate routes in the same levels.
 
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Ten_Fold

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Sonic adventure 1&2 was probably the best 3D games, generations was good also, I heard colors wasn’t too bad either. I wanna say outside of those games that’s about it for 3D sonic games that’s worth playing.
 

LRKD

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All boost games go in the trash. I'm convinced most people who says colors is good either never played the game, or they were talking about the DS port.
Or are kids, and it was there very first Sonic game.
I'd sooner replay Unleashed on my PS2 then that pos. Generations is bad as well, but it does have some nice nostalgia playing through some of the levels. All the boost games suffer from excessive amounts of 2D padding, for what is called a 3D game.

Truth be told there is no definitive sonic game, they all have there issues, but if I had to recommend someone a 3D Sonic game, it'd be SA1 despite being somewhat buggy it is much closer to definitive 3D sonic then any other game imo. Looking exclusively at Sonic/Shadow stages, SA2 is right on up there.
 
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TexMex

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The first Adventure was awesome, at least at the time. It was some of the coolest shit I’d seen.
 
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SonicJams

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All boost games go in the trash. I'm convinced most people who says colors is good either never played the game, or they were talking about the DS port.
Or are kids, and it was there very first Sonic game.
I'd sooner replay Unleashed on my PS2 then that pos. Generations is bad as well, but it does have some nice nostalgia playing through some of the levels. All the boost games suffer from excessive amounts of 2D padding, for what is called a 3D game.

Truth be told there is no definitive sonic game, they all have there issues, but if I had to recommend someone a 3D Sonic game, it'd be SA1 despite being somewhat buggy it is much closer to definitive 3D sonic then any other game imo. Looking exclusively at Sonic/Shadow stages, SA2 is right on up there.
This!

Boost games are 'run in straight line too fast' with the slower sections controlling horribly and not being unified as a whole.

Adventure 1 got it spot on from the get go; including level design, 3d controls, physics and story telling. A great foundation to build on, and with some modern tinkering, could be perfect.
 

Paltheos

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LRKD LRKD and SonicJams SonicJams said almost exactly what I was going to say (and these aren't positions I see expressed allot but then again I'm not frequenting tons of Sonic topics). Sonic Adventure 1 is the best but not by virtue of being great. So many of the others are just awful, including Generations, at least from the 3D angle. I don't have a strong opinion on the 2D-only levels.
 
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Saber

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I would say Generations and Colors are both par with what I would call a perfect mix of plataforming and speed sectors(taking aside Colors mediocre bosses and Generations forced minigames/challenges to progress).

And as stated, Adventure aged horribly. It didn't compare to the likes of Mario or Banjo as plataformer and neither provided anything really meaningfull for gameplay. It has good music but it isn't enought to stand out. It was just a 3D Sonic.

And I'm not even talking about Adventure 2. That one was the start of Sonic cancerous era(edgy, crabky gameplay, story tone dark, etc).
 
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01011001

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•Precise controls
•Good camera
•60fps on console
•Good Leveldesign

there's only a single 3D Sonic game that combines all of these traits and it is:
SONIC: Lost World

it has pretty bad boss fights tho... that drags it down
 
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Alexios

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Idk how they get it so wrong every time when the Saturn Sonic Jam World thing controlled great (with a d-pad!). Sonic felt fast and agile but was 100% controllable and all he really lacked which would be added was the spin dash. Moving around was great, jumping was great & precise so lock on wouldn't be needed. A game built on that exact premise, with actual enemies and progression, would have been the best Sonic 3D game. Perhaps even with the same kind of multi layered level design approach, that has you taking wholly different routes to achieve different goals. Like, maybe an ally character at the start of each level/world would say something like, I don't trust you're not with Robotnik until such and such is done, so you would start doing his various missions, returning every time, until he trusts you and allows you to progress further. But you could also explore the level without a timer and discover other things/characters or get the layout so that you can do the tasks better when you accept them. Also, that's still the best and cutest 3D version of Sonic and Tails despite being so low poly for the hardware, none of the Dreamcast "edge" they've ran with since.

And he does the Naruto run before Naruto, it's the Sonic run, get it right folks! 2 years before the manga! Also, yeah, I suppose all of the above would basically make it a Mario game with a Sonic skin and the odd twist here and there (just as every Mario game has its own). Lost World almost did it. But hey, given Sonic sells and is an appealing blockbuster IP more often than not, what's the problem exactly? Clearly others like it. In other threads you delusionally claimed SEGA didn't have appealing games, now those they have shouldn't be so? Damned if they do and damned if they don't huh?
 
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Shodan09

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Literally all they had to do was copy the 3d levels from generations maybe with some tweaks here and there and it would have been perfect.
 

6502

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I enjoyed playing SA1, some of SA2 and Sonic Heroes. Was I wrong?
 

nordique

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At the time it came out, the original Sonic Adventure and it’s sequel were mind blowing IMO

since then I can’t say I’ve enjoyed a single sonic game in 3D, although there were a few decent ones on Wii
 
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Total junk in my opinion. I thought the first Sonic Adventure was really, really bad when it was released and it has aged extremely poorly. I think Sonic is just one of these games that doesn't go well with 3D.
 
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Vier

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Sonic Adventure 2 was not better than Sonic Adventure. Many see this as the game where everything started to suck but most of them can't put into adeque words just why beyond "It's not like the classics". While that is correct, this situation needs specifics if you really want to get that point across.
This game goes back to the Act to Act formula seen in the classic games which is something I prefer. Act then cutscene to move the story along, this is preferable to the hub worlds where one can get lost and not know what to do. It is less of an issue in modern day game design but for just Sonic games, this is what I prefer. Unfortunately, they kept the multiple characters but made it worse in that you switch characters from act to act. This is bad because this stops the player from learning from level to level, it makes the difficulty scale erratic in that the player doesn't get the time to improve on a given playstyle. How can one get good at Sonic levels if you switch to shooting in the next act? While I am an advocate for players to "Git Gud", they aren't able to because of the shift. It's like being forced to to learn Math, Science, and P.E. in the same class where you don't know what kind of question the teacher is gonna ask next. Speaking personally, there should have only been two playable characters: Sonic and Robotnik.

Now, another comparison to Sonic Adventure is the level design. Sonic Adventure 2 has shifted into a much more arcadey design which relies on memorization instead of skill. This is encouraged by the new ranking system and does work for what it is. Homing attack chains and Light Speed dash paths make up the various shortcuts. Emphasis on "Shortcuts" as these replace the alternate paths seen in previous games and is the "simplification" you will see people argue about. The shooting gameplay hasn't changed granted the mechs are far clunkier than Gamma (realistically so). The treasure hunting hasn't changed but the radar has been nerfed for some reason. If you hated shooting and treasure hunting before, you'll hate them even more now that they aren't semi-optional and aren't just retreads of Sonic levels. That's a point of contention, in Sonic Adventure it is clear that almost every level was designed with Sonic in mind first with other characters just using modified versions of his levels. This is a great bit of efficiency (especially in comparison to say Sonic Forces) and a great way to handle multiple characters. In Sonic Adventure 2, the levels are all mostly original meaning those who hate alternate playstyles can legitimately complain about resources being wasted. To use the Hero path as an example: Six sonic levels, Five Knuckles levels, and Four mech levels. This is made worse by the simple fact that Knuckles has no reason to be in this game.
On that note: the story is trash. Given the option of No story or a Bad story, I prefer the former. It's also rather telling in that this is the era where Super Mario Sunshine goes full Jerry Springer with its "Mama Peach" storyline and somehow Sonic Adventure 2 managed beat it by going full retard by Sonic possibility killing several people in the opening cutscene. I could go on but I can forgive a stupid story if the gameplay is at least good which it is. A bad story is an easy thing to fix in the grand scheme of game development, it's not a fatal error. I will state though that Knuckles and Amy have ZERO reason to be here and that Robotnik's campaign story at least makes sense.

Playable Eggman was something I never knew I wanted. Shadow and Rouge I'm pretty indifferent to. I enjoyed fishing as Big, so I was bummed he was gone. I was glad to be able to see his cameos in my initial playthrough at least. I will forever be disappointed by the lack of Amy Rose. It's nice that she was in the Battle multiplayer, but that wasn't good enough. Overall though, I enjoyed all the alts you could use in multiplayer, and frequently mod them in for my Steam playthroughs.

The music was on point of course. Jun is always great, and Fumie really shines here again. Chao garden improvements were fantastic. The story was fun, but really lacked the menace and punch that made Chaos (and Eggman's doings) really pop.

The game and its update were one of the last great Sonic games, until recent years, but will still always be (mostly) overshadowed by its predecessor.
Overall, still a good game but not as good as its predecessor.

Sonic Heroes is a game I find myself going back to from time to time. It's what I want in a 3d Sonic game though admittedly could use a good deal of refinement.
It's aesthetic is aiming for the Classics (as stated by Iizuka in an interview), the story is simple (though they have stated it was shoehorned in at the tail end of development), the levels are all Sonic levels with some Tails and Knuckles gimmick peppered about for multiple paths, special stages are back (this was before they started reusing the half-pipe to death), and all the RPG elements have been given the boot. Yes, we are on the right track.
On the downside of things, character movement has gotten worse, specifically Sonic who can reach top speed without slopes or a spin dash with a too strong rate of acceleration making him hard to control. This was the beginning of the "Make Sonic as fast as possible" philosophy bleeding into the 3d games (Sonic Advance 2 came out a year ago). Knuckles in comparison is too slow which is confounded by his punch movements being imprecise (hence why everyone just uses his fire dunk). Tails doesn't have any movement problems but his "Dummy Ring" attack is just terrible. All these things could have been fixed with just one or two rounds of playtesting (assuming they didn't tie all this into Renderware's physics engine).
Levels at the time were criticized for being "too long" in that it'll take you about 5 mins to beat each level without dying...Boy how times have changed. People say that the levels "get worse" as you go on but I don't see this as the case. Only levels that are trouble are the Airship levels which are hard but they are the last levels, they're suppose to be hard. That said, there are more death pits in the later levels, mix this with a hard to control Sonic or Knuckles' imprecise punches and I believe this may be the cause of people's frustrations.
The major complaint heard is "there are too many characters" which is another case of "Don't make other characters mandatory". It's the same problem Sonic games have in that Sonic Team keeps trying to pad them when they don't need to. Megaman 11 came out with NOTHING added to the main campaign over the earlier entries and nobody's the wiser. Were the characters just unlockable extras (which would make sense seeing as how they play mostly the same as Team Sonic, and Team Rose would realistically be trash), nobody would be complaining. Hell, this game has chaos emeralds which should be the only requirement for unlocking the Super Sonic Fight.
Despite all of this, if you were to ask me if this was better than Sonic Adventure 2, I'd have to say no. Having bad character movements is a fatal error which will drag down the experience moreso than a bad Story where Knuckles clearly lost his virginity at the end of it....Also Sonic Adventure 2 has a chao garden, you can't compete with that.

I LOVE Shadow the Hedgehog for all the wrong reasons. We've hit "So bad it's good" territory.
If you hadn't noticed, the games have gotten progressively worse since Sonic Adventure culminating with Yuji Naka's departure with Sonic 06. This wasn't Sega's fault (at least not entirely) because their other games at the time (Shinobi, Otogi, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jet set Radio Future, Gun Valkyrie, Crazy Taxi 3, Nightshade, Super Monkeyball, F-Zero GX) were quality games. Something happened at Sonic Team which we'll never know the full details about. It makes for some interesting speculation at least.

Anyway, Shadow the hedgehog is an awful game. Character movement is still awful (though ironically, they have a "Strafe" button that can be used to stop on a dime which makes platforming easier, I don't think they intended that), the gunplay is weak, despite being a "spin-off" Shadow plays exactly like Sonic + Gun, Levels are blatantly recycled to a point where you can pinpoint exactly where sections of levels are copy pasted, the multiple endings aren't satisfying, the story sucks, the localization is incompetently racist (Black Aliens when just saying Aliens would work just fine), and the multiple missions in levels just aren't fun (even the kill the president one).
The ONLY reason anyone ever plays this game is to talk shit about it because playing ain't fun. Things that could be fun or interesting aren't given enough time. They wanted to do everything and did so incompetently. Even the things I feel like defending about this game aren't worth defending. Unlike Sonic 06 where the game is a technical failure, Shadow the Hedgehog tanks what could have be a viable spinoff franchise entirely on its own merits.
 

jufonuk

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Colours was a nice game. I enjoyed that on the wii

also sonic can on the Dreamcast.
 

Whitecrow

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Sonic Heroes aged the best.
Story was baaad, and controls on the pinball section were beyond awful, but the rest of the game really makes up for it.

The level design is unmatched, the mix of speed, platforming and fighting gameplay was great, the ost god tier as always, and the banter in the middle of the levels elevated the immersion on many levels.

Shame that the story was so shitty.
 

BlackTron

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Sonic Adventure. All downhill from there.

Though future installments did certain things better, such as reducing the sidekick character gameplay or graphics, Sonic Adventure is the only one that had the soul of Sonic in it, which is the ability to play a full campaign of continuous levels as Sonic himself with the right control and physics.

Sonic Adventure 2 still had okay physics, but went bad on control with dumb decisions like putting the spin dash on the same button as the the somersault and other context-sensitive actions (you know the A button in Ocarina of Time? Let's do that, and map the spin dash to the same button, leaving two buttons mapped to nothing! Dumb as nails and betrays the simple arcadey nature of Sonic). You also had forced gameplay variety, with the game assigning your character through the story instead of choosing who you want. Nothing like turning on your Sega to play some Sonic and finding yourself as Tails in a mecha.

I played through Generations once and never looked back. Even though the idea of this game seems like everything I want in my life, fact is the physics totally sucked, which is not optional in a Sonic game. Modern Sonic felt more like a rocket than a character that had feet, making fine movements or platforming adjustments felt muddy and janky, and the classic sonic physics were just plain bad. They could remake every Sonic level in every game ever made and the game would still be worthless without getting the control and physics of Sonic right.

At least we still have Adventure 1 so I can say a true 3D sonic experience exists at all. Yes the game is full of flaws, but it's easier to overlook superficial problems when the fundamentals are correct.
 
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Soodanim

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I only wanted Sonic Generations for the 2D levels and was disappointed when I had to go back and play the 3D stages to progress.

The worst 2D game is better than the best 3D game.

Edit: No it isn't, I remembered that Sonic 4 exists. Sonic Adventure is better than that.
 
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nkarafo

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Nope. Always junk. The moment Sega redesigned Sonic and gave him voice to resemble an edgy teen, the character was dead.
 

TheMan

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I never could 'get' the Sonic games, not even the Genesis Sonic games.
Same really. Not terrible games but i never truly enjoyed them. As for the 3D games, I’ve barely played them. I always meant to buy sonic adventure on DC but i never got around to it, and word of mouth was so poor for most of the 3D games that I stayed away. At this point I don’t really give a shit to be honest.
 

BlackTron

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Nope. Always junk. The moment Sega redesigned Sonic and gave him voice to resemble an edgy teen, the character was dead.

I don't think this really hit critical mass until Sonic Adventure 2. The 3D model of Sonic in SA1 seemed much closer to a 3D interpretation of his normal self, especially the original DC version. Yeah the game has some shockingly bad cutscenes and voices, but to be fair Sonic sounded reasonably close to his older cartoon voice.

I hate this distinction between modern and classic Sonic that won't go away. Nintendo didn't find it necessary to fragment Mario's very design like this. They have to refine the brand with a normal-ass-sonic and look forward instead of backward. If any future Sonic game has both 2D and 3D sections, they don't need to include two different versions of him for god's sake.
 

jigglet

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Fundamentally I just don't know if it's possible to have such fast movement in a 3D space other than making it "on rails" ala a racing game.
 
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BlackTron

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Fundamentally I just don't know if it's possible to have such fast movement in a 3D space other than making it "on rails" ala a racing game.

Did you play Sonic Adventure 1 or 2? Total successes on the Hedgehog levels in this regard.