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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Game Gear

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Game Gear

Sonic 2 Game Gear 1Platform: Game Gear

Developer: Aspect

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): November 17, 1992

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Sonic the Hedgehog was a monumental achievement for Service Games, Inc, A.K.A. SEGA. Without the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sega might have been cast into the world of gaming obscurity with the likes of the N-Gage, 3DO, CD-i, and many other strong gaming machines. There are two similar traits between those machines and the Mega Drive (Genesis) pre-Sonic: Strong machines ahead of their times and a lack of quality games. Sonic turned Sega’s fortunes around giving them not only a high selling popular video game, but a mascot to boot. There was no stopping this runaway freight train conducted by the blue blur, and Sega was instantly pressured to take Sonic to all new territories. Enter Sonic’s portable world on the Game Gear.

Game_Gear_logo_Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog (A.K.A. Sonic 1) was released for the Genesis in June of 1991, and Sega wasted no time spreading him to their two other gaming systems once his potential was realized. In December of 1991, an inferior version of Sonic the Hedgehog was created for Sega’s 8-bit console, the Sega Master System, and their 8-bit handheld system, the Game Gear. Considering the accomplishment of Sonic 1 as a whole and its success on all three platforms, Sonic Team jumped right into creating a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog, simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog 2. This sequel would see a release on the same three platforms, with the Genesis version being the best seller of the three. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released on the Game Gear on November 17th, 1992, a full week before the Genesis version, which is odd considering the Genesis was Sega’s cash cow. Regardless, Sega wins. Sonic wins. Owners win. It was a sweet deal all around.

The storyline to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of my favorites of the original series and it differs from the Genesis version entirely, which was a greatly appreciated facet upon its release. By having a different story, owners of both systems won’t feel the need to compare the two, and might be inclined to buy both.

Sonic 2 GG

After defeating Dr. Robotnik, South Island is finally a safe place to live. Or so we thought. While running around the island, Tails is kidnapped by Dr. Robotnik and Sonic is powerless to save him. The only way to get Tails back is to retrieve all six chaos emeralds and get them to Dr. Robotnik.

With the story laid out (by way of gaming manual since technology didn’t give us many other options), we know that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is pretty much the same as its precursor, yet once we play we learn that it’s a little different. On the surface, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 already has a unique look that lets us know this game is going to be different. Sonic can be seen flying on a hang-glider which is something we didn’t see in the first Sonic game or the Genesis rendition of this sequel. Below the surface, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one difficult game to play, and is often regarded by fans as being one of the hardest in the entire series.

Sonic 2 GG Green Hills Zone

 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 features seven zones with three acts each, much like the first game except with one more zone. One of the biggest downfalls of the original Sonic the Hedgehog was the length of each zone. Sonic Team fixed this when they released Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Genesis by having only two acts in each zone (with the exception of a couple zones), but not being involved with the development of this game is apparent. If you’ve ever played a Sonic game released after this one, you’ll instantly notice how similar these levels look, but when it was first released, this was all new. Sonic still does not have the ability to perform a spin-dash while standing in place, which makes this Sonic game feel more like an extension of the original than a sequel.

There are a few gimmicky additions that really set Sonic the Hedgehog 2 apart from other installments, and those pop up in the first three zones. The first zone is the Under Ground Zone and it features something I have never seen in a Sonic game before or after (until Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Episode 1, that is). A mine cart. Sonic jumps into this mine cart and rides the rails until it either hits a wall or falls off the tracks. You are not required to ride the cart, but there are some areas that Sonic cannot pass unless he is on the cart. In the second zone, Sky High Zone, the level is fairly windy and Sonic can ride a hang-glider from platform to platform. Sometimes he will just run off of a cliff and a hang-glider will pop up randomly and transport him across the stage. The third zone, Aqua Lake Zone, features Sonic jumping into a giant bubble underwater and using it to get around.

Sonic 2 GG hang gliding

Go Back in Time to 1992!

Being that this is a Game Gear game, one has to limit their expectations in this day and age of modern technology. If you’re old enough, take yourself back to 1992 and try to experience this game without comparing it to our current portable gaming systems. With that being said, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a piece of shit video game. Okay, that was rough, but it just isn’t very good. I’m not comparing it to any other game and instead am rating it as a standalone game.

There are some really great standout features, such as the graphics and the music. For a handheld game in 1992, the graphics are pretty top notch. The developers utilized a wide array of colors to make this game pop right off the screen. Each zone is cosmetically different from one another with unique platform layouts, unique badniks*, and unique bosses. Sonic’s animation is superb and he looks great with every move he makes. The music is your standard 8-bit handheld fare but has a distinct Sonic sound that can stand up against any other Game Gear game.

Gimmick Mountain huh? Sounds like Sega alright.

Gimmick Mountain huh? Sounds like Sega alright.

Even with great graphics and stellar music, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 can’t be saved from an abysmal concept and poor execution from developer Aspect. Earlier I mentioned that this game is highly regarded as being one of the most difficult in the Sonic series, and I can assure you that it’s not because the game is ACTUALLY hard. The difficulty is caused by unresponsive controls, a dreadful camera set up, and a really bad idea for boss battles that includes making you fight them with zero rings. The culmination of these things makes Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a game not worthy of your portable life.

One can learn to deal with unresponsive controls as they learn how to time things right. One can deal with not having rings in a boss battle as they learn how to play more defensively. But one cannot deal with a camera that is zoomed in WAY too close, limiting the player’s ability to see anything ahead of them. The whole premise of Sonic is speed, but the inability to see far enough ahead makes moving fast a dangerous and ill-advised idea. Sonic has now become a crappier Mario.

Sonic 2 GG under ground zone

Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is mostly a decent game, but the poor development concepts really shot Sonic in the foot. Hell, Sonic should be on crutches for the entire game. Or better yet, call it Sonic Mineshaft and have him ride around in a mine cart the entire time. Sonic’s 16-bit counterpart is a much better game and is still worthy of your time today. I like the visual presentation in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Game Gear, and the music is good for a portable game, but the overall experience is poor. I know Sega wanted to beat out Nintendo with their Game Gear, and despite being technologically superior (and, um, WAY cooler), it was weak titles like this one (and a machine that drank a 24 pack of AA batteries everyday… it needs a support group) that led to the Game Gear’s poor reception. I can only recommend Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for game collectors or Sonic enthusiasts.

Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*A badnik is an enemy robot created by Dr. Robotnik.

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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One Comment

  1. I remember this game well, up to a point anyway. This game, Majors Pro Baseball, and Mortal Kombat were the only 3 games I had for the Game Gear for a very long time. Maybe I need to take another crack at it, but I was permanently frustrated and disappointed with it, and I very clearly remember NEVER getting past a certain point 2 or 3 stages in.

     

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