I kind of grew up with Sonic fangames, if I may be frank. The Sonic fangaming “scene” first started to crop up around 1997 or so, and seemed to largely fill the gap left by Sega - there were an abundance of Sonic fans but no Sonic videogames coming out, so…
I recommend checking some of these out. The 3D engines are really cool to see, and “Before the Sequel” is a pretty good facsimile of 2D Sonic games.
Another version of Sonic Fan Games HQ — and a far better design than it was previously. Not the final version mind you, but certainly closer to how I left it.
Not sure where I got that picture of Sonic — I think it was a magazine cover? The background was also edited from a Phantasy Star Online website. It also used frames! It was cool back then. At the very least it looked a hell of a lot better than the previous one.
Not sure if I have a copy of the next iteration on hand. It used a Sonic 3 styled ring for sprites, and used a logo that’s still being used to this day. This one definitely had me start using my Paint Shop Pro skills, which in turn have become Photoshop skills. They help a lot when mocking up menus or game mechanics.