The Blue Blur versus the Blue Bomber. Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man are two of gaming's most popular heroes, each with dozens of titles under their belts (or lack of a belt, on Sonic's case, since that dude likes to run around au naturale). Both fight robots. Both had their heyday during the '90s. Both have had several reimagings and revamps, with varying degrees of success. With Archie Comics smack-dab in the middle of the crossover mini-series that gamers have been clamoring for, it begs the question: which gaming hero wears blue the best?
Best Classic Title: Mega Man 2
While the first Mega Man game laid the groundwork for the rest of the series, it's Mega Man 2 that hone it to a razor's edge. The run-and-gun platforming of the first title is quick-moving and tightly-choreographed. Levels are challenging, yet don't always have to rely on the "cheap-shot" deaths the NES era was famous for. The bosses are varied, and their weapons both useful and aesthetically interesting. And the music! Mega Man 2 has one of the most memorable NES scores, particularly the infamous theme to the first stage of Dr. Wily's castle. Many Mega-fans consider this title the best in the series, and, with the level of quality to be found in its gameplay, it's hard to argue otherwise.
Best Non-Mainstream Title: Mega Man X
Transitioning a beloved series from one console generation to the next can be tricky -- not everyone made the transition to 3D as smoothly as Mario. When Capcom wanted to transition from 8-bit to 16-bit with a spinoff entitled Mega Man X, people scoffed. Once the game arrived, the scoffs of every naysayer was quickly sucked back into her or his smug little throats. Mega Man X was still, at its core, a Mega Man game. You fought eight elemental bosses, gained their abilities, and used them against one another. But the addition of hidden armor, power-ups, and an actual story helped propel this title into becoming another Capcom classic.
Biggest Embarrassment: Mega Man X7
Sequels can be great, but there comes a time in every series when its creators either decide to stop while they're ahead, or burn their franchise to the ground. With Mega Man X7, Capcom clearly opted for the latter. Few titles so perfectly encapsulate everything that could possibly be bad about a PS2 era game. Long loading times, often in the middle of yet another cutscene in an inane story. Terrible gameplay, with a camera that seems actively determined to kill you. Let's not forget the voice acting, either, with every character being fully voiced (and fully obnoxious). The leader of the back voiceover pack was Flame Hyenard, whose incessant howls of, "Burn to the ground!" are forever seared in the memory of anyone who played Mega Man X7.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Best Classic Title: Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic 2 are solid titles, holding up well over time. Sonic 3 & Knuckles, however, is nothing short of phenomenal. Few games manage to have such varied settings, inventive boss fights, and unbelievably great music. The game also featured a save system, which was a rareity those days, but absolutely necessary given the amount of stages to be conquered and Chaos/Master Emeralds to be found.
Best Non-Mainstream Title: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Sonic is a big name in gaming history. While some of Nintendo's more esoteric heroes, like Ness or Pit, seem out of place in Super Smash Bros, Sonic's inclusion is as natural as Hedgehogs and chili dogs. Sonic's cameo aside, Super Smash Bros Brawl is one mind-blowing pile of game. Fans of its progenitor, Super Smash Bros Melee, may not care for the game's altered combat, but the sheer volume of content and raw fun to be found more than make up for the lack of wave-dashing and "competitive" play.
Biggest Embarrassment: Sonic the Hedgehog (Xbox/PS3)
Do you like Sonic the Hedgehog? How would you like to play a wonky, unfair, unpolished game where you'll spend less time running around than you will caught in cutscenes so poorly written you'd think they were cribbed from internet fan fiction? What about watching Sonic make out with his human girlfriend, how does that sound? Bad? What do you mean, bad? Where are you going?
The Blue Bomber holds a dear place in our hearts. Very dear, in fact, but the same doesn't seem to be true of Capcom, as there are no new Mega Man games on the horizon, and the few that were in development seem to have been canned. Sonic the Hedgehog, however, continues getting royal treatment from Sega. Sure, it's a crapshoot as to whether any given Sonic game will be good, merely adequate, or kind of embarrassing, but the point is that they keep coming. Sonic is alive and well, starring in new games and making cameo after cameo, while his good buddy Mega Man hangs back and takes his robotic dog Rush for a walk.