After we scoured through the Zones of the early Sonic games to find the best that Sega had to offer in the 90s, we couldn’t help but notice that some were a little … below par in comparison.
Not ones to waste research, we tirelessly compared these levels too to come out with a list of our worst Sonic Zones from the Mega Drive era.
Gotta go at a lacklustre pace!
What’s worse than a Zone with excessive lava and things everywhere that can crush you? How about one that not only does both of those things, but also ruins the excellent pace set up by the Zone that precedes it? Marble Garden is a bit of a mess, involving a lot of waiting and horrid enemies that are placed with ruthless efficacy.
Spring Yard Zone
We’ve had a Sonic 1 Zone that slows down the action too much, and now one that speeds it up a little too much at points for what it throws at you. Like Marble Zone, it sometimes has you waiting around, but also throws the odd enemy in your way when you do manage to speed up. It does have great music, but not enough to save the experience.
Hill Top Zone
It seems that a lot of the Zones on here are levels that slow the Blue Blur down, and with good reason as he is all about speed. Hill Top Zone is uniquely placed, even among these as it has no redeeming feature at all. Unless you enjoy a lot of waiting, copious amounts of lava, bad enemy placement, and possibly the worst stage music in the game.
Ho boy, what a set of levels. Ranging from laughably easy in Act 1, to borderline cruel in Act 2, Sandopolis Zone is easily the least consistent Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This is topped off, even more insultingly, by possibly the worst boss encounters in the game too. We must admit though that the pyramid rising up was pretty awesome back in the day.
Water levels in games are garbage, more often than not, and Labyrinth Zone really does nothing to challenge that assertion. Unbearably slow movement, with oxygen bubbles that you absolutely have to grab, and that horribly tense countdown to drowning, it’s not ideal. To make things worse, it’s the template for Act 3 of Scrap Brain Zone, only worse.
Green Grove Zone
Sonic 3D Blast needed all the help it could get, being the first real attempt at getting Sonic into the new-fangled 3D era. Unfortunately, Green Grove Zone was not the best introduction to this concept. Ultimately, the opening Zone of the game is a bland experience, with dull enemy and level design, feeling more like a poor man’s Green Hill than anything else.
Sky Sanctuary Zone
Now, we understand that this level is essentially the bridge between the narrative hook at the end of Lava Reef Zone and the final encounter in the Death Egg, but did it really have to feel this much like filler? Even Metal Sonic/Metallix was a vastly inferior experience to its far more intimidating appearance in the Death Egg at the end of Sonic 2.
The award for possibly the worst enemy placement in the entire series goes to … Metropolis Zone! Almost every enemy type in this three (yes, THREE) level Zone are frustrating or worse to deal with in general but are also placed to cause maximum trouble. Add to this an equally frustrating Robotnik encounter and you have possibly the worst Zone in Sonic 2.
Lava Powerhouse Zone
There had to be at least one Zone from Sonic Spinball on this list, and as the most bafflingly designed of the game, the spot has to go to Lava Powerhouse. We get it that there’s only so much that could be done with the core conceit of the game, but the end result in this case is an unbelievable mess that is just torturous to play for the player.
Oil Ocean Zone
This Zone isn’t overly bad per se, with some decent speed reached and some interesting mechanics, but is vastly let down by poor bosses and awful enemy placement, especially coming after Mystic Cave Zone. To add insult to injury with this as well, the more recent Sonic Mania showed how good this Zone could have been with some tweaking.
That’s ours, but what are yours? Let us know!