Sonic the Hedgehog 2
System: Genesis :: Rating: N/A :: Players: 1
Genre: Platformer :: Released: 24 November 1992
By Kellen Scrivens
Released in 1992 after the success of the original, Sonic 2 was met with even more success and fame than the first. In fact, it was so successful that for a two-year span it was the highest selling 16-bit video game worldwide. (Nintendo/Rare's Donkey Kong Country ended that in 1994.) Many consider this to have been the best of the 16-bit Sonic games, however I do not agree. It is a great game, however — just not the best.
Dr. Robotnik is back, and he wants to take over the world again. And this time taking more extreme measures. He has built his Death Egg and plans on powering it using the seven Chaos Emeralds. (Where did the seventh appear from?) To bide his time, the evil doctor has once again roboticized most of Sonic's forest friends and turned them against him. However, Sonic has enlisted the help of his friend Miles "Tails" Prower.
The gameplay to this is very much the same as it was in the original — fast-paced with a fair-share of puzzles, and some jumping sections that would make a Mega Man fan stand up and take notice. Also included was a new two-player versus system as well as new baddies and bosses to face. The biggest update, however, has to be the addition of the Sonic Spin Dash. With it, you can charge up and get a quick burst of speed and momentum when you really need it.
The levels are once again great. This time there are 19 levels spanning 11 different Zones, and once again they are designed beautifully. Many of the Zones were original and very unique. (Who can't say they loved playing the slots in Casino Night Zone?) However, at this point there were some definite rehashes that became apparent. (Emerald Hill Zone from this game and Green Hill Zone from the original don't sound like they'd be alike, would they?) However, they make up for that by having them be incredibly fun. Other than that, I can't really take anything away from it.
The graphics are not exactly great in my opinion. The sprites for Sonic and Tails are not that great in my opinion, and a few of the levels just look incredibly flat.
Honestly the sounds for Sonic or the ring collecting and item box smashing are very much the same as the first game, but the themes for the actual levels are incredible. Right from the get-go (with the opening two chords to Emerald Hill Zone), all the way through to the final boss battle theme — the music is perfect and very fun to listen to. There are some that are not incredibly great, but, at the same time, they are not anything to hate.
The special stages are, quite frankly, hard as hell. The only way I have been able to get anything more than two emeralds in the ring- and bomb-filled tube is to use both Sonic and Tails at the same time, and have my brother control Tails — even then, some are just too hard to win. If you're stuck using both of them on your own, you're screwed because Tails has an incredibly low AI and get hit by bombs quite easily.
Most of the boss battles are a little bit on the easy side (but are great nonetheless), but then there are some that are incredibly difficult. There are only a few that offer a challenge, but the balance is just so off — it feels kind of like a rubberband AI.
Despite that, the overall challenge to this game is pretty good. It starts out fairly easy and then gets a little harder and a little harder all the way up to the final boss — with only one real exception. Also, for an added challenge, you can attempt to gain all of the Chaos Emeralds in order to get the good ending as well as the ability to become Super-Sonic — which is really a blast. Also, if you want a little extra, you can play through as Tails to see his ending and a few little extras. (Like Sonic flying Tails around in the biplane.)
One of the main points to this game is the versus mode, which pits two players against one another and runs them through four stages — to see who can score the highest points, time to complete, rings at the end of the level, total rings collected, and item boxes smashed. While the premise sounds great on paper, the actual translation to on-screen gameplay has a few problems. First, three of the four stages lose their great single-player music, only to be replaced by poor substitutes. Second, whenever there is a lot of action on the screen (mainly when someone gets hit while carrying a lot of rings or both players encounter baddies) there is massive slowdown, which becomes very annoying. Finally, the actual split-screen makes it very hard to know where you're going at times and can get to be very frustrating.
At the end of my first review I said that the original Sonic the Hedgehog was what really put Sega on the map. Sonic 2, however, cemented their chapter in the history of video gaming. Almost everyone who owned a Genesis had a copy of this game and almost all of them loved it. While I can say I loved it, I have to say that the sometimes-shoddy graphics and frustrating two-player mode shave some points off. I give it a very respectable 4 out of 5.