Which Sonic the hedgehog game was the better one?

I've recently been made ultra aware of this game series and it's importance in the world of games after learning of my girlfriends obsession with it

Let's be real here, Sonic the hedgehog was just Sega's answer to the super Mario brothers.
Instead of a hero man with an animal like nemesis which is what Mario was, Sonic was a blue hedgehog (yes the Japanese are weird) who had a man as his arch nemesis in Dr. Ivo Robotnik (later shortened to Doctor Eggman).

The games emerged in the early 1990's which was a time when the world was first coming to grips with problems about pollution etc. So in contrast to Super Mario and other previous adventure games where the idea was to save the girl, Sonic was out to save the world from the evil and mad scientist Dr. Ivo Robotnik who was turning all the animals into robots and collecting the 6 magical "chaos" emeralds which held great power.
Sonic must collect the emeralds (which in one version of the game are used to de-pollute the landscape) himself and thwart the plans of the evil and mad scientist by sprinting around brightly colored stages and rolling into/jumping onto enemies.

The game was very successful when first released and had two direct sequels which were also very successful, however I personally think they ran the series into the ground at the end of the day.

After the success of the first game, Sonic the hedgehog 2 was released (which I believe was the best one). In Sonic 2, Sonic is given a sidekick named "Tales" which, in my opinion gave the game a little bit of a gay undertone which was sorely missing from the original.

Various sequels, returns and spinoffs followed over the next 25 years so the question is which one did you like?

And which one was the most utterly terrible if you want to add a bit of fun to the discussion?

  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
  • Sonic & Knuckles (Genesis)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System)
  • Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
  • Sonic Generations (PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (various platforms)
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