Review by darthjulian

"A terrific sequel that even surpasses its splendid predecessor"

It took Sega only one year to develop the sequel to their video game smash hit "Sonic the Hedgehog", which it the market in 1991, with "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" having been released in the middle of 1992. A sequel everyone has been expecting, anyway. After all, the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" finally gave Sega the opportunity to establish some sort of a mascot as a rival to Nintendo´s Mario, and the game itself turned out to be a considerable success - and thus, a new franchise was born, after Sega´s former attempts Alex Kidd and Wonderboy eventually did not appeal to the masses. However, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" was far more than just a mere rehash of part one in order to milk on the success of its predecessor - instead, it´s the kind of sequel we´re always hoping for in the video game industry: a game that improves upon its forerunner in nearly every single way.

Looking at the gameplay, one will be able to notice three significant new additions to the game compared to part one. First of all, Sonic is no longer alone on his way through the several levels, as he´s now being accompanied by Tails, the flying fox and Sonic´s greatest fan. While he´s not particularly helpful for example in order to get rid of your enemies, he´s at least able to help you collect more golden rings, as they return from part one, and once again, you´ll be given an extra life once you´ve gathered one hundred of them. But be careful, since a single hit by an enemy will make you lose all your rings, just like before. Then, you have a new, fancy move for Sonic: the Sonic Spin Dash, which provides with another effective way of disposing of your enemies without risking too much in terms of your rings, and it´s also a good way to simply dash through parts of a level at high speed. And last but not least, Sega decided to include a multiplayer mode this time around, allowing two gamers to race through the levels against each other via split-screen, but unfortunately, as great as this might sound at first, this mode is being harmed by some graphical issues. However, the big deal in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" still is the single player mode, and apart from the aforementioned new features, if offers exactly what made the first Sonic an instant all-time classic: super-fast gameplay as well as cool and creative level designs, anchored by precise controls, and all this can be found in this game here as well. Sonic as well as his companion Tails are faster than ever, giving you an even greater sense of speed while playing through the game, and it´s still unbelievable how much fun this actually is, despite one returning flaw from part 1: the sometimes unfair obstacles are back, like the enemies you can´t avoid running into because you´re just too fast and because they tend to appear all out of a sudden at times, which, as mentioned above, causes you to lose all your golden rings, and this can be quite annoying from time to time. Nevertheless, these moments are less frequent than in part one, and in the end, they do not detract too much from the overall enjoyment of the game at all. One aspect Sega really did improve upon the first Sonic title, however, is the level design, being more unique and fantastic than ever. The first world might seem a little uninspired, resembling the premier stage of the first Sonic game greatly, but level 2 already astounds with a theme seldom seen in Jump and Runs, and much like part one, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" stays away from tedious before-seen levels like the stereotypical forest, desert, cave etc. themes. Although each world is now being divided into two sublevels only in comparison to "Sonic the Hedgehog", you won´t exactly notice, since each level itself offers quite some room for exploration, as you don´t have to worry about the game being too linear: there´s more than one way to the goal of each stage, trust me, and it´s simply and utterly fun to run around in the colorful and creatively designed worlds. There also is some sort of a story this time around as well involving Robotnik and his attempts to steal the Chaos Emeralds, which Sonic and Tails must prevent, but seriously, you won´t even be bothering to heed the LITTLE amount of story you´re being provided with - after all. this is a Jump and Run, and the story is not exactly an important aspect here. So all in all, the gameplay successfully manages to build up on the original and to refine it even more, resulting in a terrific sequel that plays like a dream thanks to the perfect controls and the aforementioned great designs.

Looking at the graphics, you will realized immediately that they have been improved greatly over the first "Sonic the the Hedgehog", which is a feat within itself, seeing that part 2 came only one year later. All character sprites, especially those of Sonic, Tails and their enemies, feature far more details and are also more colorful as opposed to part 1, fitting perfectly into the fantastically designed worlds. They, too, stand out with a higher amount of details, colors and especially (funny and creative) ideas, making each world more unique and remarkable than in part one. The boss battles against Dr. Robotnik are now more impressive as well due to the design of his various gears and vehicles he´s using and the visual display of them, also being an opportunity to see some of the various graphical effects such as the use of fireballs and some of Dr. Robotnik´s secret weapons. Compared to part one, the frame rate also has become more solid, with slowdowns occurring far less frequently than before, running smoothly with a high frame rate for most of the time. However, the same cannot be said about the two-player mode, since there, the game is being marred by quite some slowdowns, harming the enjoyment of this game mode to some extent. But other than that, the visuals in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" truly are outstanding for a Sega Genesis game and are perhaps only surpassed by the likes of "Gunstar Heroes", "Rocket Knight Adventures" or "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" and "Sonic & Knuckles".

The music in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" can mainly be described as always being perfectly fitting for the atmosphere of the title. It´s always fast-paced and most of the times rather cool, never getting annoying or repetitive at all, doing a great job at accompanying the high speed feel of the gameplay. Fortunately, though, the main theme from "Sonic the Hedgehog" is back, though, being heard during the title screen and when you´ve collected an invincibility star - it simply has become the theme you connect Sonic with, ever sine the first game hit the market, and having this familiar tune back creates a nice connection to the origin of the series. The audio quality is simply exceptional given the console the game has been released on, being crystal clear and pleasant to listen to all the time unlike certain other Genesis titles - a wonderful treat for your ears, so to speak. The sound effects are also very nicely done, conveying the cartoonish feel of the Sonic universe properly, with some familiar sounds returning for this sequel as well. One can indeed say that the music makes the audio-visual splendor of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" complete.

This could quite possibly be the best Sonic game ever. It outclasses its fantabulous predecessor in a way only few sequels are able to achieve, without staying away from the original formula of the series and by adding some fitting new features that enhance the gameplay in a positive way. It goes without saying that this is one of the best Sega Genesis games out there, and even if you´re not that familiar with Sonic, it still remains a game that would deserve making its way into every serious gamer´s collection. It´s yet another all-time classic by Sega hailing from the glorious 16-Bit era.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/02/07

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