With the success of the films and the promise of Frontiers, it’s possible that we’re ushering in a new golden age of Sonic the Hedgehog. While Sega is looking forward, the company is also looking back. It’s giving us Sonic Origins, a retooled collection of Genesis classics. However, this package fails to provoke a burning question: what’s the best Sonic handheld game?
After all, while Sonic’s reception on home systems post-Genesis has been hit-or-miss, there have been wonderful Sonic handheld games helping keep the franchise afloat during darker moments. Unfortunately, they’re largely inaccessible.
Sonic remaster collections like Origins often focus solely on the console games, leaving these key portable titles in the dust – and in desperate need of their own compilations.
Here are the Sonic handheld games that we want to see receive much-deserved remasters.
Sonic Chaos (Game Gear, 1993)
One year after Sonic 2 hit Genesis, Aspect and Sega brought Sonic to Game Gear with this marquee 2D platformer. It wasn’t the first Sonic title on the handheld (the first two Genesis games were ported previously) but it was an original adventure. And, it’s largely inaccessible nowadays unless you can find an original cart either of its portable version or the cross-released Master System iteration.
It’s likely not much to write home about in 2022 gameplay-wise, but it’s an important piece of Sonic history nonetheless. I’ve always wanted to dig into the 8-bit franchise offerings further. So, access to Sonic Chaos would be of great help on that front. It’s the Sonic handheld game that started them all!
Sonic The Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (Game Gear, 1994)
Sonic Chaos received a near-immediate sequel in Triple Trouble. The game’s alright – it’s the sole Sonic Game Gear title that I’ve played.
Unlike Chaos, Triple Trouble is more accessible as it’s available on Nintendo 3DS eShop, and it stands as a compelling handheld conversion of Sonic’s console gameplay.
However, it certainly has level design and camera issues. Ultimately, like its predecessor, Triple trouble should be made available as a Sonic handheld game remaster primarily so fans can better understand the series’ history.
Sonic Advance Trilogy (GBA, 2001 – 2004)
At the time, the notion of an original Sonic game on Nintendo hardware was unfathomable. However, Sonic Team and Dimps gave us three on Game Boy Advance under the apt title of Sonic Advance. These are quite special. Like most games on this list, they’re hard to come by, unless you have a Japanese Wii U. I was sorely disappointed to learn that the Virtual Console ports are sadly not available worldwide.
It’s so unfortunate as this trio is perhaps the most deserving of modern access. These titles are considered true hidden gems and the essential design link between classic 2D Sonic and the DS era. Given the enthusiasm around the Advance games, they’d certainly be fun to (re)visit in 2022.
I’ve never been able to try this trilogy on any platform, and I’d love the opportunity to do so. Three original Sonic games on GBA and not a single new 2D Mario… What a time!
Sonic Rush/Sonic Rush Adventure (DS, 2005/2007)
Taking the baton from Sonic Advance, the Sonic Rush duology upped the ante and doubled down on the Boost-focused gameplay that would define console titles in a similar manner.
Sonic Rush Adventure further expanded the sub-series’ scope, adding in vehicle sections and other gameplay ideas. That title was a childhood favorite of mine – I’d love to give it another try alongside its predecessor, which passed me by at release.
Modernizing these Sonic handheld games wouldn’t be as simple as Advance, though. Rush used the DS’ two vertical screens to great effect. Porting them over would be a challenge. However, with clever screen borders or Nintendo Switch’s brilliant TATE mode, this is an easily circumvented issue. Emulators have been solving it for years, after all.
Sonic Colors (DS, 2010)
The Wii version of Sonic Colors has already gotten the remaster treatment via last year’s Sonic Colors: Ultimate. However, many people suggest that the handheld version of the title is actually better – a claim that I’d like to evaluate firsthand.
Like the Sonic Advance and Rush games before it, Colors was developed in part by Dimps, who brought their refined design to a rather different version of this beloved console adventure.
Fans would be well served by access to this arguably superior and undeniably different take on the Colors world. I for one, want to find out if it really can rank as one of the best handheld Sonic games with a proper remaster.
Sonic Generations (3DS, 2011)
Like Sonic Colors, Dimps was called upon once more to make a handheld iteration of another tentpole console 3D platformer. And similar to Colors once more, it’s a rather different experience, albeit not as strong as that release. I enjoyed the title, but haven’t played it in many years. I’ve been too busy with the excellent console version.
The 3DS iteration retains some of that PS3/360/PC success. The Classic/Modern Sonic concept is largely the same, but the handheld features fresh interpretations of Generations’ Zones with gameplay ideas unique to this version. It even had an online multiplayer mode! The curious design differences perhaps outweigh the uneven execution.
When the console version of Generations is inevitably remastered, hopefully, the 3DS iteration comes along too, so I can finally complete it and compare its design against the HD version of my second-favorite Sonic game. Mania will never be topped.
Sonic Lost World (3DS, 2013)
Regrettably, Sonic Lost World on 3DS is not as good as its Wii U/PC counterpart by many accounts – not that the console version is apparently much better. I certainly didn’t play it for more than a few stages.
However, this was another attempt from Dimps to translate sprawling Sonic into a much smaller Sonic handheld game. While it didn’t quite work out, there’s nonetheless value in remembering a franchise for both its masterpieces and missteps – the 3DS Dimps titles unfortunately being examples of the latter.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal/Fire & Ice (3DS, 2014/2016)
Yikes. Sonic Boom, outside of the TV show, was a fairly definitive misfire for the franchise. The games just didn’t pan out. Shattered Crystal is apparently better than Wii U’s Rise of Lyric, but not by much. Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice though is considered to be a solid experience, albeit one that’s still trapped in the realm of mediocrity.
Nonetheless, as part of a larger collection, there’s probably some value to be found here. Probably. The stink on the Sonic Boom brand kept me away when these were new, but I’d be willing to give them a try if presented as part of a package celebrating the series’ handheld growth.
Why We Need A Sonic Handheld Game Collection
With that, we’ve touched on most of the major Sonic titles on portable platforms. But, the list is far from comprehensive. Sonic X on Leapster, anyone? Yeah, that might be the weirdest Sonic handheld game.
Digressions aside, there is a genuine need for these titles to resurface. The run of games from Sonic Advance to Sonic Colors is largely considered to be quite beloved by fans. Yet, Sega never acknowledges them.
I’d love to play the majority of these portable games. However, I had relatively few of them growing up, and even fewer remain in my collection now. 2022 has reconnected me to my childhood love of the franchise, and I’m itching for more. I’m slowly working through the many titles I missed and would love to play the entire series on console and handheld.
Unfortunately, diving into the latter requires original hardware for the most part – a stark contrast to the console games which are mostly available on modern storefronts many times over. The story of Sonic is incomplete without access to these handheld experiences.
Remastered compilations of them would sell undoubtedly well – particularly the GBA and DS adventures. Those games alone would comprise a wonderful collection or even two!
There’s so much more to Sonic than his console evolution, and so many titles that Sonic fans such as myself have missed out on. Hopefully, Sega acknowledges these pockets of the franchise soon and explores the portable side of the franchise in an Origins Pocket Adventure of sorts.
What Sonic handheld game remastered title would you like to play the most? Let us know in the comments.