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Which Sonic Games are Mainline?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Swiftbix, Aug 7, 2021.

  1. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    1, CD, 2, 3, K, Chaotix, Mania, SA1, SA2, Heroes, Shadow (as a direct follow-on), 06, Unleashed, Colours, Generations, Lost World, Forces.

    Everything else is spinoffs or side titles.
  2. _Sidle


    Here's a funky definition of "mainline" to consider: the major 2D sidescrollers at time of release, who's gameplay comes closest to resembling (if you squint) the original game that started it all.
    Plz don't throw stones. Don't want them making a rocky transition to my face :V

    All jesting aside, a pretty valid case can be made for (early?) 3D Sonic being it's own branch, with it's own ideas on how to do things...
    the go-to example being expected to play noticeably different playstyles
    • speed/treasure hunting/mecha shooting/stealth/fishing
    • on-demand formations for speed/flight/power
    • normal gunplay/schmup sections/vehicles
    • amigo sections mid-level/mach speed/vehicles
    • boost/werehog
    versus the coexisting 2D games not really following them on that, and sticking to the series roots a lot stronger...
    typically only major difference between characters is a double-jump ability and some minor numbers tweaking
    • Tails getting a small hitbox (2, 3K, Mania, probably others)
    • Knuckles getting short jumps (3K, Mania, likely more) and slower acceleration (Advance 3 did this iirc)
    • Blaze's top speed(?) is slower, and can launch themselves farther off springs/other upwards toss things by pressing R.
    • Gens3DS... has a lot of similar purposed moves between the two Sonics? (a bit of a stretch)
      roll/slide, spindash/boost, homing attack shared eventually​
    If mainline series (A) gets split into two ongoing (B) and (C) series, with (B) running off in a distinctly new direction, while (C) more closely sticks to the fundamentals of what (A) established, shouldn't (C) be considered apart of the mainline and (B) considered to be something else?
    Mario is the only other tangible example of this I can think of: (1... ...3, World...) (64, Sunshine... ...Odyssey) (the four NSMB games)
  3. Swiftbix


    Deep Delver Member
    Could anyone who’s good at research find out for certain if the Advance games, the Rush games, or Mania, are mainline games? I believe that the latter is, but not the formers.
  4. I think canon material still able to be a spin off can be demonstrated good with a lot of tv shows. Like family guy for instance- for a while, Cleveland split off into his own spin off show seperate from the main one, but it still had canonical impact nonetheless :p
  5. It's subjective, but I think if Chaotix is considered mainline, then 3D Blast should be included too. Yes it was obviously developed in part by Travelers Tales, but Iizuka and Yasuhara also worked on it and not in an insignificant capacity. So (unfortunately) I would say it counts.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  6. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Why would Chaotix be mainline to being with? Like Shadow it doesn't star Sonic, and puts major spins on the formula. Shadow the Hedgehog has more reason to be mainline, continuing Shadow's story arc, yet it's officially a spin-off.
  7. raphael_fc


    Overthinking Sonic timelines. Member
    I mean, there is no problem in a spin-off title being canon, but how would a non-canon spin-off be mainline? Knuckles Chaotix is non-canon since Heroes.
  8. Since there are separate continuities for the Classics and the Modern series jumping off from SA2, then I see no reason why Chaotix wouldn't be canon within the Classic sequence. 3D Blast would absolutely be canon there as well.

    I personally don't consider Heroes to be mainline anyway, with it being such a gimmicky and unenjoyable experience that kicked off the dark beginning of Sega's third party tenure. Subjectivity aside, it's not like the story goes anywhere beyond apparently setting up a non-canon Shadow game. Is it really a sequel to SA2? Or are events within it referenced to any significant extent in later games? On these I am uncertain, but I do know that the game fudged its treatment of the Chaotix and that they held no significance in any later entry outside of fanservice. So if the Classic and Modern dimensions were to become one again, which is not neccessary, then I'd rather take the events and backstories as established in Knuckles' Chaotix over the mess of Heroes.

    Now as to what games I consider mainline: Everything on the Genesis, as well as Mania, and perhaps Sonic R. Modern-wise it'd go: Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Unleashed, Colours, Generations, Forces, and perhaps all 2.5 episodes of Sonic 4. Maybe the Rushes are too.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  9. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    As others in the thread have rightfully pointed out, what is canon to the series lore is not necessarily a "mainline" title. We're starting to conflate the two, so I would suggest the issue of if the games are canon or not should be rendered moot for the points of this discussion.

    In my humble opinion, the portable games have always been treated as "Secondary" to the main console title going as far back as the Game Gear (granted some of those games were on Master System, but at that point that console was considered secondary to the Genesis as well). They may not be "spinoff titles" per say, but I wouldn't place them in the "mainline" category either; rather they would be in their own "Handheld Titles" category. Same would go for the smattering of Arcade games as well as the Sonic franchise is not predominantly an Arcade franchise.

    Thus I would propose that "Mainline Titles" are console titles that adhere to the general gameplay mechanics of the franchise without significantly altering the gameplay or level design philosophy already in place. Naturally, word-of-god would affect this as well. This would leave us with CD, Chaotix, 3D Blast, R, Shuffle, The Riders games, Shadow the Hedgehog, The Storybook Games, Boom, and Team Sonic Racing. Now why none of these might not be considered mainline (in my opinion at least).

    • Sonic CD & Chaotix both were developed as killer apps for add-on hardware and I guess the developers felt the need and freedom to experiment with the gameplay mechanics a bit. Chaotix is bit more obvious in that it stars Knuckles rather than Sonic and that the rubber band mechanic significantly changes the gameplay and level design. CD has seemingly creeped into the mainline series retroactively, but at the very least I don't think it was originally a mainline title due to the greater emphasis on exploration as opposed to quick progression. That one could go either way for me and I'd love to hear arguments for or against it if there are any.
    • 3D Blast does star Sonic, but the gameplay is focused on gathering Flickies within an isometric space. Further, while it does have creative input from Sonic Team in some capacity, it was developed by Traveler's Tales. The first point is mostly what would knock it off the mainline list for me.
    • R, The Riders games, and TSR are all racing games, not much to explain there.
    • Similarly, Shuffle was a party game.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog, while officially been declared as a spinoff as pointed out above, does not star Sonic, has a branching story structure that affects gameplay progression, and has greater emphasis on weapon and vehicle combat. It does expound upon story threads in SA2 & Heroes, but so did other titles on this list and story does not necessarily dictate what is "mainline" or not.
    • The Storybook games feature Sonic but are radically different in gameplay than the 3D Platformers of that period. They're could easily be classified as on-rail action games rather than 3D Platformers.
    • Boom is so obvious that I don't think it's worth mentioning.
    Now, as for why I didn't include Heroes, Sonic 4, or Mania on that list:
    • Heroes, while varying with the team formations, is still a 3D Platformer with the same mechanics of the 2 Adventure games preceding them. Even then, I believe word-of-god was that it was a "mainline" title.
    • Sonic 4 & Sonic Mania are both attempted continuations of the 2D games that had come before (granted with radically different degrees of success). They both carry the same mechanics of the original trilogy, were primarily released on major consoles, and both star Sonic.
    So in the end, my list would be 1, 2, maayyyybeee CD, 3&K, SA1, SA2, Heroes, 06, Unleashed, Colors, 4, Generations, Lost World, Mania, and Forces.

    If there's word-of-god contradicting any of that I prepare to stand corrected :thumbsup:
  10. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Story is irrelevant. It wasn't made as a full-price game and advertised as the Next Big Sonic Game, therefore it's not a mainline game.
  11. Wraith


    Like others said in the thread I'm not sure how to nail this down without a clear definition so I'll just share my personal 'canon'

    Sonic the Hedgehog
    Sonic The Hedgehog 2
    Sonic the Hedgehog CD
    Sonic the Hedgehog 3

    Sonic Adventure
    Sonic Adventure 2
    Sonic Heroes
    Shadow the Hedgehog
    Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
    Sonic and the Secret Rings
    Sonic Unleashed
    Sonic and the Black Knight
    Sonic Colors
    Sonic Generations
    Sonic Lost World
    Sonic Forces

    For me if it was a platformer and was developed by Sonic Team, it's mainline regardless of it's quality. If it doesn't display the evolution(or degradation) of Sonic Team's design philosophy, I tend to put it in it's own little box.

    Advance, Rush and Mania aren't mainline to me but I can see why people would disagree. They were all supervised by Sonic Team, usually iterated on the formula better than Sonic Team themselves did, and some ideas from those games made it into Sonic Team's stuff. They're just too far from Sonic Team for me to lock them in, personally. Rush Adventure didn't leave a huge mark on the series despite how much better it was than Sonic Team's own boost games, and I'll be we'll be feeling the same way about Mania when the next few games come along.

    Shadow the Hedgehog is mainline because it was developed by key Sonic team staff, iterates on a lot of Heroes's mechanics and 06 went on to take some stuff from it. The awkward combat focused era of Sonic was extremely misguided, but I think it still counts in the same way that the prequels are still mainline star wars material. It came from the minds of some of the oldest creatives on the series, misguided as it all was.

    I don't really care if people want to count Sonic 4, but to me it's Sonic 4 in name only and thus not really a mainline title. 3D Blast and R credit Sonic team but it seems to have been a supervisory role so I put them in the spinoff category.

    The only games I'm not sure how to place are Secret Rings and Black Knight. Most people used to consider them mainline back in the day, but they're hardly showing up in this thread for reasons that mostly make sense. I went ahead and put them in anyway though. Their controls were simplified to accommodate the wii remote, but they're still trying to be fast paced platformers. Almost nothing they did carried over into future games but that goes for most motion control-fulled entries in major franchises from that era. That whole angle was just a creative dead end. Also Kishimoto got his start as a game designer there and he's extremely central figure in the series now.

    None of this stuff is important, but I felt like sharing I guess.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  12. For 3D Blast it was a bit more than supervisory. Yasuhara is credited with the playfield design and Iizuka is credited as game designer. Traveller's Tales did the brunt of the programming (since the majority of Sonic Team was busy with NiGHTS), but Sonic Team was definitely involved in key creative aspects.
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  13. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    As mentioned several times, it really depends on how you define "mainline".

    A lot of what "mainline" means to me comes down to my perception of Sega's intentions with the game at the time of release, which isn't much less nebulous. There's a bunch of questions you can ask, like "how important did they make this game seem" and "how stacked were the resources for this game".

    To that end, pretty much every platformer with "Sonic" in the title is mainline to me. Even Rise of Lyric. Less so the 3DS "sequels" though.
  14. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    I want to preface this by saying that I don't really see the purpose of a distinction between "mainline" and "spin-off" for Sonic. For Mario it makes sense because that franchise has a lot more games that break away from the platformer genre as well as has consistent lines of spin-offs, but for Sonic it just feels like another way of dancing around "canon/non-canon" without actually saying it.

    I guess I'll go with "platformer games that have some internal consistency with each other (whether is gameplay or story continuity or w/e) and/or was promoted as a major release in its day". This automatically disqualifies two main categories:

    1: Obvious spin-offs (the All-Stars Racing games, Sonic Shuffle, etc)
    2: Handheld games (they were ALWAYS treated as sideshows to their console brethren.

    So my list would be (in release order,, and with notes if I feel it necessary):

    Sonic 1
    Sonic 2
    Sonic CD
    Sonic 3K
    Adventure 1 (skipping 3D Blast for its differing gameplay and Chaotix for being trapped on the unprovoked dead-on-arrival 32X)
    Adventure 2
    Shadow (it shares several gameplay mechanics with Heroes and Shadow's personal story is needed to make sense of his story in 06)
    Lost World (this one was tough because there's really no other Sonic game like it thank fucking christ, but IIRC it WAS promoted as that years major Sonic title, so OK)
    Mania (Sega mistakenly thought it would be the sideshow to Forces, but not only was it Sonic's biggest success for over a decade, it's consistent with the classic gameplay)
    Forces (again, they mistakenly thought it would be the big Sonic game of 2017, and it does have consistencies with Generations, even if it's worse in execution)
    Rangers or whatever it'll be called (yeah I heard about the leak, but it's a title, they have until release to change their minds)

    EDIT: if anyone wants to try and argue that a game doesn't fit my definition, I had a list in mind and tried to figure out how to define my criteria. So my list wouldn't be what changes, my written explanation would.
  15. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    The question does toe that line, but I'm being charitable in my interpretation. There may be merit in gathering opinions on what people consider to be the games where Sega successfully communicated that it was the new, "proper" Sonic game.

    As an example (that I don't want to take too far as it's off-topic), most of the handheld Zelda games often don't seem to be seen as "mainline" Zelda games. Even if they are actually in the canon.
  16. I think that's why 3D Blast is so interesting with regard to how it fits in because, despite the game being pretty rough, it was THE Sonic game for Christmas '96. It even had its own animated special!

    I think there's an understandable tendency to want to discount 3D Blast, or push it into being a spin-off alongside Spinball, Chaotix, or Mean Bean Machine in order to sort of preserve the Genesis/Mega Drive "legacy" but the lived reality is that 3D Blast was as "mainline" as Sonic & Knuckles.
  17. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    What makes that a still tricky statement is the reason why it was "THE Christmas 96 Sonic title": the game that was actually SUPPOSED to be "THE Christmas 96 Sonic title" was Sonic X-Treme. Which was canceled. So Sega had to quickly pick a game to be the NEW "THE Christmas 96 Sonic title", and 3D Blast was the closest they had (IIRC there wasn't even going to be a Saturn version until X-Treme was canceled). Something similar happened in 93: the whole reason Spinball even EXISTS is because they knew Sonic 3 wouldn't be ready in time for Christmas 93, and needed something out on shelves.
  18. Forte


    I speak better after three beers Member
    Shadow the Hedgehog might be a spin-off, but it's plot is definitely mainline.
    You know, when plot in Sonic Games was important. Good times.

    I miss 2005.
  19. Josh


    So play Sonic Forces! That game put a ton of focus on its story (even to the detriment of its gameplay), and as if that wasn't enough of a throwback to the mid-00s, said story was a bunch of cheesy, stupid nonsense, complete with awkward characterizations and bizarre plot holes created by a poor localization! :V
  20. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    You know, it's not a crime for others to enjoy the mid 2000s games or their stories.