Review by BigCj34

"Excellent follow-up to the revolutionary classic, featuring the only blue hedgehog who can avoid a car."

What's that, you haven't heard of Sonic? Well, unless you've been stuck in a combination of sleeping under a rock and playing the SNES simultaneously, there must be something wrong with you. The original came out in 1992, was a huge hit, and less than a year later this awesome sequel was released. Sonic even exists as new games today, but unfortunately they don't all have the flair as the Sega classics do.

After Sonic defeated Dr. Robotnik in Sonic 1, Robotnik is back with a bang, after making a narrow escape from the mayhem at the Scrap Brain facility, and follows Sonic more subtly than any ninja would when Sonic thinks he's off on a holiday, on his private jet to Westside Island. Sonic meets up with everyone's favourite fox, Miles “Tails” Prower, and guess who's come to crash Sonic's beach party? That's right, Dr. Robotnik and to come to steal the chaos emeralds on the island to fuel his ultimate death egg machine. Can you get the chaos emeralds before Dr. Robotnik steals them?

Sonic 2 builds upon the basic gameplay elements of Sonic 1, for those of you who don't know what that means it's racing through levels at 150mph, collecting more rings than what James Bond would see in a lifetime and freeing innocent creatures from the many robotic ‘badniks' that the recycling plant wouldn't touch with a barge-pole. In this outing though, the difficulty has been upped a gear and it's not quite as easy to speed through levels at 150mph without getting a few bruises, as there's plenty more typical platform jumping and obstacles than you might have remembered from Sonic 1. The most noticeable new feature is the spin-dash mode, which is executed by holding down and tapping C allowing Sonic to roll on the floor at blistering speed without having to run back and forth to pick up the momentum before you can roll. The spin dash is essential for getting through certain obstacles, whether it's a six foot wall or making it past a series of slipping platforms quickly.

Plenty of new badniks have been created to accompany Sonic's travels to Westside Islan, very few have been reused from the original, although some attacking patterns and styles, just in case you were done with piranha's pooping up from waterfalls. This time though the baddies are tougher than what you may remember, there's no ladybird bots that move an don't do anything, right from the start you're going to be pelted by coconuts and bombs and greeted with badniks that come with a spike, ones that explode into Sonic's face while the dreaded spikes that just stand there are ever-present, there's nothing quite like losing a life from landing into a pure spike pit on Mystic cave that you can't jump out of.

So who the hell is Tails I hear you ask? He's a cute fox with two tails and can fly, although it's not until Sonic 3 where you can utilise that ability. Tails himself plays an integral part of the gameplay himself, not to mention the fact that he usually tags along with sonic and mimics all the actions he takes, which is useful for bosses and doesn't get in the way. You can either play as Sonic or Tails alone, or play as them both in which he can be controlled by a second player. Tails is a useful addition to the game, except when in the special stages where his move mimicry costs you rings.

A new 2-player versus mode is now present in Sonic 2, Sonic competing against Tails, with three stages from the single-player to play in split screen, the first to the end of the level wins, whereas the last stage is a special stage battle and the character with the most rings wins. The two-player mode is a fine dash of fun, but don't expect anything substantial from it, it's got only four-stages and won't be leading to mega-multiplayer madness.

The special stage has been given an overhaul, instead of futile jumping through a 360 rotating maze, you're now going through a 3D half-pipe, collecting enough rings to progress through each checkpoint, then eventually the chaos emerald at the end. The chute twists and turns, the rings fly to you literally left, right and centre and to finish it off bombs fly at you and any collisions will cost you a few rings. Bombs avoidable when playing one player with just one character, but if you play solo with Sonic and Tails, you're in trouble as Tails does not do much more than crash into the bombs when attempting to mimic Sonic's previous action, and seeing as this is the hardest special stage format in a Sonic game I've played, you could do without such interruptions.

No less than 11 zones are present in Sonic 2, starting from the trademark green hill-esque zone, but called Emerald Hill, the industrious Chemical Plant, the beautiful Roman-esque marshy but simultaneously nasty Aquatic ruins to the never-sleeping pinball paradise of Casino Night's, the spooky Mystic Cave wile the last stages of the game involve sky-riding to Robotnik's death egg ship where you eventually have to fight him. All of the zones are all varied in difficulties on their own merits, the Chemical plant zone can prove to be a pain when jumping across moving platforms that would otherwise send you deep down toxic chemicals goo, the Aquatic Ruin zone has water passages that go on for longer than you tough, while the hi-tech Metropolis Zone is nothing but a maze of annoying obstacles that jump out at you in all directions while Hill Top zone presents you with endless lava pits, you can guess what that is like. Naturally the last three stages cost you the most lives, any slip ups and you're falling down to the ground, who forgot to program in Sonic's parachute?

So how does Sonic 2 present its worth as a sequel? Its not just a credible sequel, but a pretty awesome one as well. It maintains the key gameplay elements from the original, with it's simple controls (the A, B and C buttons do effectively the same thing) the nitro-speed pace and ring collecting plus keeping in annoying special stages if you have enough rings, while upping that difficulty a gear or two. The levels in Sonic 2 are notably bigger in length albeit only two acts per zone as opposed to three (bar one), while adding a sidekick in the name of tails and a fun 2-player mode. Sonic 2 itself is a little less about speed though and a little more about skill, badniks are mindless attacking machines and while you could probably whiz through some levels in Sonic 1 and finish the levels and get to a special stage, this is less of the case in Sonic 2 where you need to think a bit more. If you want to get the chaos emeralds you're going to have to find the checkpoints scattered throughout the level to get to the special stages.

Sonic 2's visuals build upon the originals, and are remarkable themselves, bright and colourful with some credible animations plus fantastic living and breathing level designs making it look a credible 2D platformer even by today's standards. The special stage isn't a bad attempt to create a pseudo-3D effect either. Sonic 2's audio is excellent also, many of the tune's having a heavy, catchy beat to them and compliment the game extremely well. The sound effects are similar to those found off Sonic 1 also, nothing incredibly new there but at least it isn't any worse.

If playing Sonic 2 from start to end, bar special stages it takes about 2 hours or more to complete. However with the difficulty given it takes much more time to complete and practise. While a save feature would've been great, it only adds to the challenge without it, I've never completed the game when playing without a save feature. While it is arguable that Sonic 2 is the best in the series, this version of the game has been surpassed by Sonic 3, combined with Sonic and knuckles an you've got the ultimate Sonic action. There's also some single-player action present here when plugged into the Sonic and Knuckles cartridge, allowing you to play the single player Sonic 2 with Kunckles. Nice.

Graphics Bright colourful smooth side-scrolling graphics, Mega Drive at it's finer points. 9/10
Sound Funky heavy beat banging tunes, to the point where you think the soundtrack is cool. 9/10
Gameplay Great fun, but pretty difficult, you've got to watch that step. 9/10
Length Takes a couple of hours to get through to the end, if you can make it that far. 8/10

Sonic 2 is an essential for any Mega Drive owner out there. If you own a Mega Drive and don't have at least one Sonic game, you should be ashamed. While I'm no Sonic fanboy, I appreciate that Sonic has declined in quality in it's recent past, but owning a Mega Drive Sonic is essential. The gameplay is fast, the game is a tough challenge and the graphics are a 2D showpiece accompanied by funky upbeat music. It doesn't hurt your wallet to buy it used, so get out there and buy it while you can, unless Sonic really isn't your thing, you traitor. 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/07


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