Top 10 2D Sonic Games to Play Before Sonic Superstars

Learn more about some of the best 2D Sonic titles that you may want to make tracks in before Sonic Superstars releases later this year.

Taking a jog back to the classics in Sonic is always a recipe for a good time. Regardless of your skill with these kinds of platforming adventures, 2D Sonic offers a pretty straightforward, fun experience for all ages. Whether you’re playing by yourself or on the same screen with a friend, 2D Sonic titles are loads of fun, with interesting level design, addictive music, and a simple goal at the end of the stage.

Accessibility is the prime reason 2D Sonic did so well during the resurgence that Mania brought to the franchise. In the case of Sonic Superstars, that 2D model is coming back with more options, more gameplay variety, and hopefully, a whole new set of stages just waiting to be explored. So while you may be sick of Green Hill Zone, here are a few 2D Sonic games you may want to cross off your list if you haven’t already, so you can be prepared for Sonic Superstars when it releases later this year.

10. Sonic CD

Image by Sonic Team

Sonic CD is one of the most debatable 2D titles, spawning discord among gamers and writers for years. Is it good, or is it bad? This all depends on who you ask and how long they played Sonic CD. This 2D title is not a simple entry to consider that much is certain right out of the gate. Every level in Sonic CD is massive for the time, with plenty of diverging paths and an incentive to explore so that you can save each area through the past and future.

That being said, the art and soundtrack for the game are both phenomenal, making the long-winded level design not a problem for the most enthralled of us. If you want to play a 2D Sonic title that launches ahead of its time (both in the plot and in the franchise) while also witnessing one of Sonic’s best 2D adventures, consider finishing your playthrough of Sonic CD before Superstars.

Related: Modern Sonic Games to Play if You Love Sonic Prime

9. Sonic The Hedgehog

Image by Sonic Team

Going back to the original where it all started is hardly a bad idea. While it may not be as cleanly polished as the others, there is so much flexibility when it comes to playing this title for a second or maybe even your first time. Whether you have a GameCube, Switch, PC, Sega Genisis, or just a smartphone, you can get your hands on the first Sonic game easily.

To boot, the game is much simpler than Sonic CD, having straightforward levels in some cases and difficult navigation in others. The soundtrack and detail are undeniable, making it a great experience for anyone wanting a solid 2D Sonic title firmly placed in their recent memory. If you don’t know which to pick, best to start where the entire franchise did.

8. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a stronger step in the right direction than the first game. This almost-sister title to CD did everything the first game did but with more care and firepower. The second title introduces Tails, so if you’re deciding to play with someone else, this game can be your first that doesn’t involve passing the controller around. Like with plenty of other classic Sonic titles, there are plenty of options to play. If you have the Sonic Gems Collection, you won’t need a copy of Sonic Origins to get started with your classic playthroughs. No matter where you play, Sonic 2 is a game where plenty of iconic tracks and level designs were conceived, so it’s definitely worth a solid playthrough before the end of the year.

7. Sonic Mania

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If you want to play a title that celebrates the success of Sonic in 2D, then look no further than Sonic Mania. Taking already legendary stage designs and bringing them a step further, Sonic Mania is the resurgence the franchise needed to really set in stone the difference between 2D and 3D Sonic development. Without the success of Mania, it’s doubtful Superstars would be arriving as it is now, whether that be a different date or entirely different ventures with the 2D Sonic way of things.

6. Sonic Rush Adventure

Image by Dimps/Sonic Team

Sonic Rush Adventure, the sequel to Sonic Rush, is a fantastic 2D title to get into if you have a Nintendo DS available. The better between the two depends on what you like in your 2D Sonic game. If you like the idea of pirates crossing over with some solid Sonic and Blaze gameplay, then you’ll be all set. This sequel features Marine as a sidekick to Blaze, just as Tails is a sidekick to Sonic, so Rush Adventure does have a superior cast. The soundtrack is similar to Rush, only with a more tropical and freestyle beat as opposed to the energetic tone of the first.

Related: Sonic Prime brings back an old secret of Sonic’s past – Sonic’s middle name

5. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (& Knuckles)

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As one of the best 2D Sonic titles, Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles deserves a top spot. In terms of the timeline of Sonic as a franchise, Sonic 3 and Knuckles was a perfect storm, marrying some new concepts to the best that 2D platforming and level design had to offer. Up to that point, the first and second Sonic games had been stepping stones compared to what this game would do for the franchise. While Sonic 2 put the hedgehog into orbit sales-wise, Sonic 3 & Knuckles hit the thrusters and hit them quite soundly.

4. Sonic Advance

Image by Dimps/Sonic Team

Sonic Advance is the first in a series of wonderful 2D titles in the Sonic franchise. Unlike the original 2D games or the Rush series, Advance takes on a modern, stylish pixelated look. With a unique soundtrack and a portable enough console for all ages via the GameBoy, Advance was the first step toward a whole new approach to the 2D Sonic model. It’s a shame this series was only three games long because the formula it built upon the trilogy turned out to be a success in the general community’s eye.

3. Sonic Rush

Image by Dimps/Sonic Team

Sonic Rush is the first game in the Rush/Rush Adventure series, which introduces Blaze and Marine as characters. The most notable feature that Rush has that makes it stand above many other 2D Sonic games is its high-energy soundtrack and its superior and addictive level design. While Rush Adventure had more replayability heft to it, Sonic Rush was the first, with superior and more user-friendly level design by comparison. Sonic Rush is an iconic title, definitely worth a playthrough if you want to experience one of the best Sonic titles ever to come for a mobile console.

2. Sonic Advance 2

Image by Dimps/Sonic Team

Sonic Advance 2 took the Advance 2D way of things, bringing it a step further. With the second game came more playable characters, a new story, and even more levels with the same design philosophy that made the first game great. And if you’re on the hunt for something a little challenging, Sonic Advance 2 also solves that itch. Between challenging levels and the same design philosophy that made the first Advance game great, Advance 2 was set to be a polished upgrade, one that succeeded.

1. Sonic Advance 3

Image by Dimps/Sonic Team

The final title for our list is Sonic Advance 3, the most realized rendition of the Advance series. By the time this game came out, Dimps, the developers for the series, had their feet well within the Sonic pool. Expanding on the already robust concepts that Advance 1 and 2 introduced, the third game in the series introduced the buddy system, where players could have two characters on screen at once. This led to some interesting fighting combinations, allowing for massive replayability and some unique sprite-work between each dynamic.

For lovers of each character, this was a dream come true, and for those who had played Advance 1 and 2, it was a natural feeling to step forward. The game has 20 pair combinations, making it quite robust for a 2D Sonic title and a GBA title in general. If you had to only play one set of 2D titles before digging into Superstars, consider the Advance trilogy. At the very least, it will show you where Amy began as a playable character vs where she is now.