The Best Sonic the Hedgehog Games for Android

From classics to modern games, here are the Sonic games you need to play.

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Sonic's 25-year history is full of both games that are brilliant, and otherwise...lacking. If you're a long-time fan who wants to rediscover the series' glory days, you can do that. If you were a Nintendo kid growing up, time to see what the fuss is all about. If you were born after the 16-bit era, you can play some of the series' highlights on Android. The modern games take a bit of a downturn – the worst of which aren't mentioned here – but there's still a few decent games to be had.

01
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Sonic CD

Sonic CD for Android
Screenshot of Sonic CD for Android. Sega

This is perhaps Sonic's magnum opus.This platformer does things with time travel that few other games accomplish. Each act has a past, present, and future that you can reach – but only by going fast enough to trigger the time travel. And then, you have to find certain destructible objects in acts 1 and 2 to trigger the good future in act 3, a boss fight. Do all that, and you can get the best ending possible. As far as Sonic games go, it's surprisingly involved, and its levels have a sense of massive scale that the Genesis games didn't have. It's a challenging game, but a great one, and perhaps the pinnacle of the series. There's also the amazing soundtracks – both the original Japanese one​ and Spencer Nilsen's US soundtrack that I'm fond of in part because it's the one I grew up with.

Not a whole lot of people played this one because it was on Sega CD, the add-on to the Sega Genesis. There's actually a really cool story to how this game made it to mobile. Christian Whitehead – aka "Taxman", a long-time member of Sonic communities – created the Retro Engine, and used Sonic CD to demo it. Eventually, he and his working partner Simon "Stealth" Thomley – also a member of the Sonic community – crossed paths with Sega and they made Sonic CD in the Retro Engine for desktop, consoles, and mobile. Not only is the game ported over to Android, but it's in widescreen, adaptive to multiple screen resolutions, features Tails and Knuckles as playable characters, and has both the Japanese and American soundtracks. This is by and far the definitive version of the game.

Do note that this appears to have been delisted from Google Play at some point. You can get it on Amazon, and I highly recommend it. If you use Amazon Underground, it's free on that platform as well.

Sonic 2 Hidden Palace
The restored Hidden Palace level in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sega

Stealth and Taxman were commissioned to bring this classic Sonic game to Android as well, updating the iOS version in the process. Many of the features that made the Sonic CD port great are here as well, but this game was already very full-featured. After all, Knuckles had been added into Sonic 2 through the Sonic and Knuckles lock-on cartridge containing what was essentially a ROM hack to add Knuckles in. They added the ability to have Tails fly, which he couldn't in Sonic 2. So, the big addition to the game was Hidden Palace. This level is based on cut content from the game only available in leaked beta versions of the game. Accessible through Mystic Cave act 2, this level doesn't have any significance beyond being a cool Easter egg, but what an Easter egg it is. Oh, and the game's art, music, and level design is still stellar for the series. This classic stands the test of time. More »

Tails Sonic 1
Tails in the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega

This is the most famous and iconic game in the franchise, in large part because it defined Sega way back in the day. Millions of Genesis systems came with this game, after all, and it provided the attitude that allowed Sega to compete with a then-dominant Nintendo. The game lacks a lot of the features that make later games great – the 2-act zones instead of 3 like in this game, and Sonic's lack of a spin dash felt limiting. Thankfully, the Christian Whitehead port goes a long way to fix a lot of the issues, adding in the spin dash and characters from later in the franchise to make the definitive version of the game. The series improved in later entries in my opinion, with better game flow and more fun to be had, but this is still an iconic game for a reason. More »

Sonic 4 Episode 2
Screenshot of Sonic 4 Episode 2 for Android. Sega

Sega brought back some of the original Sonic staffers and modern 2D Sonic game developer Dimps to make some new games that follow the acclaimed original games. Episode 1 is fine, but if you have to play one of the episodes of Sonic 4, the second episode is the way to go. Sega fixed a lot of issues that were readily apparent in the first episode of the game – the physics actually feel like a Sonic game and not a pale imitation – and made an actually good Sonic game. It feels like a lot of what's great about this game is imitating the classic games, perhaps to an excessive degree. And the homing attack is a controversial addition to the 2D games. Dimps' love of bottomless pits in Sonic game design is well on display, too.

Regardless, it's hard to complain about this game too much if you're a Sonic fan because it's a fun way to sit down and enjoy a legitimate new 2D Sonic game. Do play with a gamepad if possible – I enjoy the game more with physical controls instead of touchscreen controls, as I discovered when I replayed played the game a couple years later on PC. There is a free trial version available if you want to see what the fuss is about. More »

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic's debut kart racing game for Android. Sega

I know it's silly that Sonic is in a car, let's get that out of the way first. But this is actually a really good kart racing game with a great list of guest characters from across Sonic and Sega games. The odds of getting Mario Kart on mobile are questionable, so this is the best choice if and until that happens. This is just a well-made kart racing game, with all the shenanigans you'd hope ​from this sort of game, with a great cast of characters from not just Sonic, but Sega games. Alex Kidd is a playable racer! Hard to go wrong with this one, and even if Sonic driving a car is silly, the game where he raced on foot was not great. More »

06
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Sonic Dash
Endless runner Sonic Dash for Android. Sega

This lane-based endless runner feels a lot like the Sonic franchise trying merely to chase popular trends, but it's not a terrible game. It's a good-looking game, it plays well compared to other endless runners, and you can get it for free without IAP on Amazon Underground. Hey, not having to spend any money at all isn't bad, not to mention that Amazon and Sega have had a contest to get $10 Amazon.com gift cards by collecting Amazon boxes in the game. ​There is a sequel featuring characters from the Sonic Boom games that have released recently, though beyond the funny TV show, it's not clear that anyone should pretend Sonic Boom exists. More »

Sonic 4 Episode 1
The first episode of Sonic the Hedgehog Episode 1 for Android. Sega

I recall playing this for the first time and feeling a really special moment playing a direct sequel to the Sonic games of my youth. But the physics were a disaster: Sonic should not be able to stand still on a vertical wall. As well, the console versions underwent significant revamping with a big delay that replaced a couple of levels that otherwise remained in the mobile versions. The mine cart levels where you tilt back and forth were found in leaked builds of the Xbox 360 version but were left in the mobile versions. It's not a terrible game, but a severely flawed one that got this new series of games off on the wrong foot. This is worth picking up mostly as a curiosity, and also because it helps unlock some extra levels in Episode 2 with Sonic CD villain Metal Sonic. More »

08
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Sonic Jump
Screenshot of Sonic Jump for Android. Sega

A jumping Sonic game is kind of silly, but it interestingly precedes even Doodle Jump, which you would otherwise assume inspired this game And it winds up being pretty fun, even with its free-to-play Fever sequel, with the constant jumping and bouncing against the time limit being fun to play with. It won't light your world on fire, but at a certain point with the Sonic franchise, "this isn't terrible" is okay. Remember, the series has seen great lows. More »

Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed
The Transformed sequel to Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. Sega

This is where we start getting into a trickier phase of games. This second Sonic racing game is a ton of fun in its most ideal phase. It uses land, air, and sea vehicles in a similar vein as Diddy Kong Racing, with the difference being that you shift between these different modes at various points on the tracks. The characters in the game are expanded from the original, including Danica Patrick and Wreck-it Ralph for some reason. 

Now, the mobile version is a bit on the rough end. Instead of just adapting the console version to mobile, Sega made some major changes to the structure of the game to make it more free-to-play-like, while it was a paid game. Now it's free to download, and it's perhaps worth checking out as a risk-free download. But the best version of the game is the console and PC version. You can play this remotely if you have it, or via GeForce NOW on Nvidia Shield devices, which is my recommended choice. More »

10
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Emulate the Classics

Sonic 3 and Knuckles
Knuckles in Sonic 3. Sega

Sonic 3 and Knuckles might never make it to mobile due to issues over the music licensing and the game not being as popular as other entries back in the day. And Sega has yet to bring some games like Sonic Adventure to mobile. These games can be emulated, with the Genesis games that can be played with roms that can be extracted from the legally-purchased Steam versions on an emulator like RetroArch. There isn't much to play beyond the Genesis games, but if you have the discs backed up, Reicast and Dolphin can play Dreamcast and GameCube/Wii games respectively.