Sonic The Hedgehog's Portable Resume: Consistently Great
Despite a rocky console career, Sega's mascot has thrived on handhelds.
During the 90s, Sonic and Mario were equally popular. Both characters, despite obvious design differences, starred in a string of quality video games that received perfect scores from a number of outlets.
Then, both of their careers took separate paths. With Mario, Nintendo chose to keep things consistent to please fans.
Sega, meanwhile, chose to constantly reinvent its hero with newfangled control schemes, gimmicks and bizarre plot lines, the worst involving creepy affections towards a human, as well as silly concepts, like transforming into a werehog.
Most of these "experiments" took place on consoles, and despite big sales, critics didn't hold back in blasting Sega and Sonic Team for essentially ruining a previously untouchable character.
That said, and for whatever reason, Sonic's handheld resume has remained remarkably clean. If all you owned were portable video game systems, going as far back as the deceased Game Gear, you would probably feel that Sega could do no wrong when it came to Sonic the Hedgehog.
That's largely because of the publisher's decision to stick with 2D, but also create games that not only bear a resemblance to those classic Genesis titles, but also play roughly the same.
You'd be hard pressed, for instance, to find someone that hates the Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush series for Game Boy Advance and DS, respectively. What's to hate? Each of the five games features breakneck Sonic speed with colorful and detailed graphics.
Thing is, they are but a few enjoyable Sonic games you'll find on handhelds. We're also quite fond of Sonic Colors (DS), the majority of the Game Gear lineup, Sonic Pinball Party (GBA) and the RPG from BioWare, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS).
Sure, there were some missteps along the way. Re-releasing the original (and glitch plagued) Sonic the Hedgehog on GBA was ill advised, and PSP owners could probably do without Sonic Rivals and its sequel, but those are but a couple bad games in an otherwise impressive lineup. Even Mario had some duds; Mario Pinball Land and Mario Party Advance come to mind.
Ultimately, Sonic has maintained a high level of respectability for several reasons, his portable games being one. Whenever you curse Sega for taking him in a horrible direction (on consoles, no less), be sure to relax with a Sonic Advance or Sonic Rush, not to remember the good old days, but to rest easy that someone still knows how to gives the fans exactly what they ask for.