Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Reader Review
‘Sega does what Nintendon’t’.
For those who remember this statement, it seemed that Sega were at their most aggressive during the Mega Drive years. Although this somewhat controversial advert can be interpreted in various ways (for example, Sega have made far more marketing errors than Nintendo), it also embarked one of the most exciting console battles in videogame history. Sega were always pushing the Mega Drive competitively - whenever the console seemed slightly out of date, they would either create a new, sleek hardware design or would drop the price significantly with an attractive bundle.
Now, of course, there were many bundles to choose from - these ranged from Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ to Sega’s ‘Mega Games’ collection, which included arcade perfect conversions of Super Hang On and Golden Axe, along side with some Mega Drive exclusives to fill the void. But the one game that helped shift millions of consoles worldwide proved to become Sega’s icon. Itwas a game that not only changed the face of platforming games to come, but also set the standard for the system - it was fast, cool and totally anti-Mario in every respect. Of course, it was Sonic The Hedgehog.
The original Sonic game blew everyone away initially. Firstly, the presentation was gorgeous and a real showcase for the system. It was also incredibly fast and ‘hip’, a factor that Mario severely lacked. It defied the rules of gravity which stunned gamers, especially when witnessing the first loop - the game was a breath of fresh air, and players grew to love Sonic very quickly indeed. And while expectations were high for the sequel, developer Sonic Team built on the original’s foundations and made a game that surpassed its predecessor in almost every way possible. That’s right - Sonic The Hedgehog just got a whole lot better.
Off the bat, Sonic 2 doesn’t seem wildly different. The controls, graphics and gameplay all seem to share similar traits - heck, even the first level looks nearly identical to its predecessor. And yet, slowly but surely, the more subtle differences actually make Sonic 2 a much cohesive game overall. For example, this time you can now perform a ‘Super Sonic Spin’ attack, which for one gives the game a greater sense of speed, and secondly makes wall climbing much easier. Or there’s the fact you have a new sidekick (not exactly new, but please, we’re in 1992 here!) called Tails - it gives the game a bit more personality, even though he’s actually a nuisance when it comes to playing the special stages. Still, it’s a nice addition.
Sonic Team’s execution is extremely tight and focused throughout; the level design for example is far more interesting than the original game. Every stage has alternate routes, with many more loops and obstacles thrown in for good measure. The Metropolis level showcases this; it’s ridiculously complex, with death drops, spinning wheels, lava pits, teleportation devices, jump pads and exploding enemies galore. What more could you possibly want from a platform game? Casino Night is also great fun, with interactive slot machines and pinball tables around every corner; it’s crazy, it’s ingenious and by god, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
The boss battles are also more exciting, with Dr. Robotnik (or Eggman, whatever) boasting a huge arsenal of weaponry. In levels like Aquatic Zone, you witness him pounding a statue which emits an arrow to fly across to the other side of the screen. Sonic then jumps on the arrow and, ta-da, you can reach him - they’re not particularly challenging, but just much more inventive and enjoyable. The final boss is a fitting climax, but that should be left as a nice, juicy surprise.
Talking of surprises, the game is absolutely full of them; arguably one of finest additions to the game are the bonus stages. For me, it defines everything that’s fun about Sonic - it’s erratic, over the top and will definitely put a smile on your face. The objective is to collect over the target amount of rings before the end of each wave (in order to obtain the chaos emeralds), and while this sounds easy on paper, it gradually becomes more challenging as the game progresses. Although the main game itself can be completed with little hassle, finishing it with all the chaos emeralds under your belt is no easy task. Okay, so the game is no way near as difficult as the unforgivable Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, but it still offers a decent challenge.
If there is anything that hinders the experience, then it would certainly be the Xbox 360 controller. For starters, the D pad controls are flimsy and unresponsive, but this is down to hardware issues and not the quality of the title itself. The analogue control fares slightly better, but overall the game’s translation isn’t as tight as I’d imagined. Also, the port doesn’t seem to be giving you the full Sonic experience - I would like to know Sega’s reason of why they removed the title screen, and even worse, the game even cuts short during the end credits. This not only broke my heart, but actually left me feeling short changed and unfulfilled. Sure, I got the game, I shouldn’t complain, but this version felt somewhat unloved.
I would consider the game itself flawless, however, and in terms of the Mega Drive version, I could go on forever about how incredible the game looks, how the audio is timeless and unforgettable, how the controls are so fluid and how you just wish for one moment that you could escape the real world and dive into the game yourself…
Maybe that’s overstepping the mark, but it simply showcases that Sonic 2 is a landmark title for system that leaves a long lasting, sugar-sweet taste in your mouth. Some may complain that it’s too short, others may question its replayability and difficulty. For the rest of us, however, we get to play a game that is a shining example of Sonic Team’s expertise - flawlessly executed, Sonic 2 is a classic game that only gets better with time.
‘Sega does what Nintendon’t’
Indeed, they do.
9 / 10