Sonic The Hedgehog is known by nearly every gamer, some know the current hedgehog; a sorry excuse for a character, constantly appearing in games that struggle to be a mediocre experience. However many remember the spiky blue speedster in his prime, back in the days when SEGA was equal with Nintendo.
Even though the original Sonic game was a smash hit, Sonic 2 took all the good aspects, and doubled them. Sonic 2 is often regarded as the reason that SEGA kept up with Nintendo in the console wars.
Despite being an old school platformer Sonic 2 has a pretty interesting plot. It revolves around a small island where Dr. Robotnik plans to steal the Chaos Emeralds (Stones of great power) to energize a mighty weapon, The Death Egg. This island just so happens to be the place where Sonic meets the first of many future companions. Miles “Tails” Prower is a cute and cuddly orange two-tailed fox who follows Sonic around during the game, he isn’t as fast as Sonic, but has the ability to fly which could be preferable to super speed.
Graphically it’s far superior to Sonic 1, the colors are far more pronounced, with vibrant backdrops and characters you’ll be blinded by color fairly quickly. Although the colors have changed, so have the character designs, Sonic relieved a streamlining for Sonic 2; he is now proportioned a lot better, and SEGA gave him a “cooler” persona to go with his new look. In addition to his new personality, he received a new transformation. That’s right kiddies: I’m talking about the golden wonder Super Sonic, to get him you would have to acquire all 7 Chaos Emeralds throughout the game (no easy feat) and collect 50 rings in a stage. Super Sonic is the definition of cool; yellow, spiky, invincible and faster than a speeding bullet.
Not only do the levels look fantastic, but the variety given is insane. With 11 different zones ranging from Casino Night Zone (Bumpers, Flippers and Vegas style lights), Oil Ocean Zone (Industrial oil field, with pipes and a sea of oil beneath you) and even a Chemical Plant Zone (Pink chemical water and insane speed loops coupled with floor that collapses when you run over it). There are also secret Zones that never made it into the full game, that can be accessed using cheat carts. Special stages also appear, but I’ll go into those in a minute.Each Zone usually has 2 Acts although there are a few exceptions, in Act 2 you’ll face Robotnik in some kind of machine/robot which is usually based around the level theme, 8 hits and he’s down for the count.
Sonic 2 includes all new abilities, such as Sonic’s fabled “Spin Dash”, this allows you to charge up and explode forward in a lethal spin annihilating any enemies in your path. The game plays very similar to Sonic 1, run from one end of the level to the other, collecting rings and generally kicking ass. There are checkpoints in the level should you die and if you hit one of these with 50+ rings you get transported to one of the special stages. Although the special stages are very similar, they get progressively harder and you go through the game, you are transported to a halfpipe like structure and as you run through you have to collect a designated amount of rings whilst avoiding bombs. Get to the end of the Special stage and you’ll be rewarded with a Chaos Emerald; get all 7 and you can transform!
There is also a two player mode in Sonic 2, you control Sonic and with a second controller, your friend can play as Tails, although he may lag behind due to his lack of Sonic Speed. There is also a split screen mode where Sonic and Tails race to the end of the level; luckily in this mode both of them run at the same speed, evening out the odds. Although the single player game is great, the inclusion of the multiplayer does nothing for the game, it’s an unnecessary addition to an already fantastic experience.
Sonic 2 has one of the best soundtracks in any game EVER. Each and every zone has colorful fun music that entertains from beginning to end. Some of the best tunes are Emerald Hill Zone, Casino Night Zone and Chemical Plant Zone. If you think those sound good, then you’ll be surprised at how great they sound with the crisp sound effects of the rings, boxes and Sonic’s jumps.
The game has been re-released countless times, on other SEGA platforms and in those Genesis/Megadrive/Sonic collections that have been released over the years. Sonic 2 is also available on the Virtual Console, if you have a Wii you should download it. Later on a Sonic & Knuckles cart was released, it allowed you to plug in other Sonic games and play as Knuckles; playing as Knuckles in Sonic 2 is great as you can reach all new areas die to his ability to climb walls and glide.
In my opinion Sonic 2 is the 2nd best Sonic game ever made, surpassed only by Sonic CD. I personally re-bought a Megadrive and Sonic 2 on eBay a few years back, and even with my PS3, I still break it out at least once a week. Great levels, characters and music; Sonic 2 has the full package. It’s an occasion where a game is damn near perfect. Every time a current gen Sonic game comes out I shake my head in despair, but all I have to do is play Sonic 2 to renew my faith in the Hedgehog once more, I’m still holding out for an HD re-release. Keep your fingers crossed.