Review by discoinferno84

"Ain't nothing gonna slow me down..."

Do you know what we have too much of these days? Crappy sequels. It's as if someone announced that every game or movie should suffer ridiculous plots, ravaged gameplay far too much style over substance. Look at the Jurassic Park movies. Look at the second installment of the Devil May Cry series. Hell, look at every Batman film and game created within the last ten years. All incredible stories that had the makings of something truly great, only to be wiped out by their own flaws and the subsequent disapproval of even their most loyal fans. Yes, to be a sequel is to be doomed to failed expectations, to be hated and cast away as fans cherish your predecessor. However, this is not always the case. In a few truly rare instances, the sequel not only meets the expectations, it completely surpasses them and sets the standards a few notches higher for the following games to come. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is such a game.

It's been a little while since Sonic the Hedgehog saved his home from the Dr. Robotnik, an evil genius who was obsessed with capturing live animals and turning them into his mindless slaves. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. The bad doctor is back again, scheming to take over the entire world with his creations. He's built the Death Egg, a massive space station with enough power to wipe out anything that could stand in his way…At least, almost anything. While Robotnik may have gotten control of every facet of modern society, the seven Chaos Emeralds are still beyond his grasp. If Sonic can collect these gems, he may have enough power to shut down the mad doctor. With Robotnik's dastardly plot nearing completion, Sonic must run back into action and take down the villain once and for all. However, this task is far too much of an undertaking for a single hero to go at alone. Sonic will be teaming up with Tails, a sly and crafty fox sporting two tails and an eagerness that could easily kill him. Thus the two heroes set off on a new crusade, with the fate of the world resting on their furry shoulders.

But these two characters aren't your typical super heroes. They don't have any super strength, super-powered guns, or any of those extra perks that come with being the saviors of mankind. The only advantage they have over evil is pure, unmatchable speed. If they want to get through an area quickly, all they have to do is curl up into a tiny ball, accelerate into a spinning frenzy, and let loose. They'll go flying at unprecedented speeds, leaving their foes coughing in the dust. Yet despite their incredible agility, Sonic and Tails are still mortal. They can't be burned, crushed, impaled, breath underwater or take a bullet without dying. In truth, they're pretty fragile heroes. Unfortunately for them, there's a whole world of evil just waiting to break them into little pieces. You've got to be watchful of your surroundings, or Sonic and his friend will end up as digital roadkill.

The adventure will begin on the grassy plains of the Emerald Hill Zone, where our heroes will come face to face with a massive horde of Robotnik's forces. Using their incredible speed and agility, they'll have to dodge mechanical piranha, giant bees that tote laser beams, and annoying little monkeys that fling coconuts of doom every few seconds. There will also be a myriad of spikes springs, bottomless pits, and plenty of other nasty surprises just waiting to victimize you. The fact that you can die with a single hit doesn't help matters much, either. Luckily for the dynamic duo, the levels are peppered with floating rings. These golden trinkets serve as a makeshift shield against your foes' attacks. If you're carrying some rings and get hit by some unfriendly fire, all of your rings will go flying in every direction, forcing you to scramble to pick them up or be left defenseless against evil. There are plenty of handy shields and other pickups to help your cause as well. If you manage to get through the level with a big stash of rings, you'll be justly awarded with bonus points as well as a few other hidden surprises.

If you spend all your time zooming around the level at Sonic speed, chances are you'll miss tons of extra areas and rewards. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is fraught with secret passageways and hidden areas just begging to be found. Instead of sprinting straight for the goal, you can spend plenty of time exploring every nook and cranny of the level, getting you tons of extra rings and bonuses. You'll spend so much time going through these levels that you'll learn to appreciate the little things that the Sonic Team did with their first major sequel. Sonic seems faster and more lively than ever, dashing in style with new animations. Though Tails doesn't serve much of a purpose besides being an unsuspecting decoy, his dual-tail wielding is a sight to behold. Though some of the levels look like copies of the first Sonic game, they've all been redone and touched up with more vibrant backgrounds, tons of challenge, and plenty of other surprises. You can see the wannabe Roman craftsmanship of the Aquatic Ruin Zone, or the dank and dirty caverns of the Mystic Cave Zone. With an awesome soundtrack and plenty of visuals, this is the kind of presentation that loyal Sonic fans would be praying for.

In the end, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is not a mere sequel of a game that started a franchise. It took everything that we held dear about the Sonic series and improved upon it, treating our gaming appetite with a feast of quality gameplay. This game met and surpassed all expectations, and created a whole new standard that future games have struggled to abide by. It reintroduces us to a timeless character and a few new companions, takes us for a joy ride through some incredibly detailed and well-designed levels, and leaves us begging for more once the game is finally finished. Instead of getting hatred for being a sequel, fans will remember and cherish this game over the original. How many sequels can boast that kind of admiration? Not many.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/06/05


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