Sonic the Hedgehog
3 & Knuckles (yes, I consider these one combined game)
How interesting that Sonic Advanced 2 is so high on your list.
I hadn't even played it.
I recently YouTubed Sonic Advance. I didn't appreciate it all that much (since I primarily played it on my N-Gage). But when I viewed it I realized two things. The fucking GBA was an 8-bit machine. The graphics seriously do not compare to the MegaDrive. The other thing was sans the graphics Sonic Advanced is basically what Sonic 4 should've been.
I thought of you and your long posts on Sonic Physics and I assumed you must have loved them.
After reading your top 3, I YouTubed Advanced 2. The graphics appear marginally better. I only viewed like 10 mins but it felt like a precursor to the Rush style of gameplay that you loathe. It is hard to tell if the momentum based physics are in there...
Anyway on to my list. I don't think i'll list all in the series... just a quick Top 3 I suppose.
3) Sonic Generations. To much of the rush formula to be rated any higher. I love Sonic in 3D and it doesn't do justice to that era. The biggest disappointment was Crisis City.
2) Sonic 06. I love this game, maybe not for what it is but what it could've been similar to how people are obsessed with Sonic X-Treme. Only difference is this is not a missing gem, it is a commercially released pre-alpha game. To appreciate this game, play Crisis City or Kingdom Valley.
1) Sonic Adventure 2.
After reading DMF's massive posts on the old game physics. I was inclined to revisit them. I was barely out of diapers when those games came out so I can't say I grew up with them. I identify much more closely with the Adventure games. I have beaten Sonic 1 & 2. I respect them but I don't know where I would rank them though.... I still have to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles too.