Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Sega Genesis
Platform: Sega Genesis
Developer: Sega Technical Institute
Release Date (NA): November 24, 1992
Nerd Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Only one year after the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, the blue blur was spinning his way back onto the Genesis with a second episode of greatness. Expectations were exceptionally high. The Original Sonic the Hedgehog game made the initial attack on Mario, but now it was time for Sonic to deliver the knockout punch. The sequel went through development in the United States once Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara made the move to the Sega Technical Institute in America. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was poised for success and there was seemingly nothing that could stop Sega’s newly found mascot.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (simply known as Sonic 2) might have a similar look and feel to its predecessor, but it is anything but “just another installment.” Sega worked out nearly all of the flaws from the original Sonic game while including a whole slew of new features that would make Sonic the Hedgehog 2 one of the best selling games of the early to mid ’90s. These additions weren’t just for aesthetics or to try and sell more copies, these additions truly took Sonic 2 to another level and created much more variety within the game. These SIX important additions made Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a true sequel as opposed to being just an extension of the original. The Spin Dash move, 3D special stages, Super Sonic, the introduction of Tails, a 2-player mode, and a more diverse/simple game structure.
In Sonic 2, Dr. Robotnik is constructing his most ambitious and destructive weapon ever, the Death Egg. His goal? To destroy the world. By capturing all of the world’s animals and transforming them into robots, Dr. Robotnik can track down and steal the powerful Chaos Emeralds. These Chaos Emeralds have the power to help him achieve his plan for world domination. Can anyone stop him? I can think of someone… One speedy blue hedgehog…
Not too far off from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik is up to his typical evil ways with plans to rule the world. Like nearly any classic Sonic game, the story means very little in the grand scheme, and the gameplay is truly the face of the organization. The Sonic franchise was founded on the idea of speed and action, and Sonic 2 takes that premise to the next level. One of the truly marvelous things about Sonic 2 is the addition of the Spin Dash. The 3D bonus stages and the introduction of Tails are excellent and worthy of their own praise, but the Spin Dash is the creme de la creme of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. With the addition of the Spin Dash, Sonic can now keep his speed going without slowing down! Previously, Sonic had to have a lot of momentum going forward to get up slopes and reach certain areas.
Sonic 1 gave players 6 zones to play through and each zone had 3 acts. Sonic 2 took that idea and simplified it by decreasing the number of acts to just 2 (with a couple exceptions) while DOUBLING the number of zones reaching a total of 12! Does that mean that each zone is shorter? Not at all. There seems to be a feel of exploration in Sonic 2 with the added element of the Spin Dash to help you reach areas previously thought of as unreachable. Sure, the premise is still “move fast and get from start to finish quick!” But Casino Night Zone is a perfect example of slightly slowing down the action and allowing players to interact with their environment. You get to play the slots for Pete’s sake! Instead of having the feel of just blowing through a level as fast as possible, players now feel like they want to explore everything! This helped with the replay value as some levels actually offered multiple paths to the finish line.
The beauty behind Sonic 2 lies in the beautiful graphics and catchy music. Each level has a unique soundtrack that was composed in MIDI perfection! My personal favorite tune comes from the Hill Top Zone level, which is also one of the most beautiful zones in the game. Fans often cite Aquatic Ruin Zone and Oil Ocean Zone as the most gorgeous zones in the game. One of my fondest memories comes from playing the game on Saturday and Sunday mornings at my neighbor’s house after a sleepover. His parents would be sleeping in, so we were forced to play with the volume at an almost nonexistent level. We had the game hooked up to a tiny woodgrained TV with the old UHF/VHF knobs and rabbit-ear antennas sticking out of the top. We would try all morning to beat the game, often getting game-overs in the final showdown with Dr. Robotnik. But no matter how many game-overs we got, we’d always try again! At least ‘til breakfast time! Those were the days.
Why was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 so damn fun? Why is it still fun today? Because Sonic 2 was a nearly perfect game on all levels when it was released in 1992. Sonic 1 set the precedent and Sonic 2 perfected it. When you play Sonic 2 today, 20+ years after its release, you still feel like you’re playing a quality game. Some games have a dated feel, but Sonic 2 actually feels timeless. There are people out there today who speedrun Sonic 2 competitively, which the developers should take as an honor.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was universally praised by critics and fans which undoubtedly led to its wild success. This success allowed Sega to catch up with, and nearly overrun, Nintendo in the US and in Europe. Sonic 2 sold over 6 million copies, making it the 2nd best selling Sega Genesis game behind the one… the only… Sonic the Hedgehog. Other notes of critical praise were the variety of levels and the large size of each stage, the bright and colorful graphics, the addition of new allies and enemies, and the music. Not only was Sonic a rising star, but Tails would be known as Sonic’s sidekick from this day forward and he achieved his own level of success and fame as well. Mario had Luigi. Now Sonic has Tails.
In addition to featuring a sidekick in Tails (who served almost no purpose within the single player game other than clumsily falling off ledges and hurting himself), Sonic 2 now featured Super Sonic! In the previous episode of Sonic, you had to collect all 6 of the Chaos Emeralds, but you weren’t really rewarded much beyond the “true ending.” In Sonic 2, once you collect all 7 of the Chaos Emeralds, you could now harness their power and transform into Super Sonic with just 50 rings! As Super Sonic, you can run faster, jump higher, and you were nearly invincible as you were still vulnerable to pits, drowning, and being crushed. Sonic could only maintain his Super status for as long as he had rings which slowly depleted as time went on. Super Sonic was a fun and exciting addition to the game as it gave high reward to gamers who worked extra hard to get those Chaos Emeralds.
Just as in Sonic 1, Chaos Emeralds were achieved by completing the special stage. But the special stage in Sonic 2 was entirely different in how you got there and how you played it. Instead of jumping through a giant ring at the end of the level, Sonic would reach this special stage by collecting 50 rings, hitting a checkpoint, and jumping into the star warp ring above the checkpoint. This special stage now featured the first rendition of a playable 3D Sonic level! Sonic would travel down this halfpipe and collect the appropriate number of rings to obtain the Chaos Emerald. Trust me, later special stages are much harder than you would think.
There is only one major flaw behind Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and that is the multiplayer mode. Before Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Tails was only a playable character in the 2-player versus-mode. This 2-player mode was used heavily as a selling-point for the game. In this mode, the screen was split horizontally where one player could play as Sonic on the top screen and the other could play as Tails on the bottom screen. Generally speaking, the versus-mode was a race to the finish line. But there was more to it than just that as players were scored across five different categories such as finishing position, number of items found, number of rings collected, number of rings retained at the finish, and total score. Sounds great right?! Well, unfortunately the versus-mode suffered from severe lagging and a terribly squashed look. If it weren’t for this considerable flaw, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 would likely receive a perfect score.
Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a masterpiece worthy of historic recognition. Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded Sonic 2 as the Best Genesis Game of 1992 and it makes “Top 100 Games of All Time” lists across the internet almost unanimously whenever one is created. There’s not much more one can say about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 except that it’s a truly wonderful game to play. Loaded with endless eye candy and tunes that will have you humming for days, there’s no reason to ever sell your Genesis or your Sonic 2 cartridge. We still didn’t get a save mode for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which would have set this game far above any of Sonic’s contemporaries. But there’s nothing like picking up your 3-button Genesis controller and playing through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on a Saturday morning. Whether you’re reliving some old childhood memories or experiencing Sonic 2 for the first time, you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself! Find me someone who hates this game. I challenge you.
Nerd Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
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