Review by waterforprez

"Don't hurt me, Sonic."

After the sensational Sonic the Hedgehog had first mesmerized the American gaming community with his first game, fans were immediately clamoring for a sequel. Unlike Sega's conservative (and consistent) rival whom had decided to wait a full four years to release a brilliant and innovative addition to their smash-hit platforming series, Sega was eager to show what they could do with their mascot and equally as eager to gain a bigger advantage over their competition, and thus, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was birthed. Did it make the cut as the best Sonic the Hedgehog? No, you dunce. Look at the score.

To their credit, Sega did a good job with graphics and music. The backgrounds are multilayered and designed in such a way that it almost looks like some sort of variation of the SNES’s mode-7 effects. For the soundtrack, Yuzo Koshiro was signed up once again. Yuzo Koshiro is a great composer, but his songs tend to force themselves into permanent rotation in your head until you can’t stand them any more. In other words, they’re waaaaaaaay too catchy.

The main problem with this game, and the Sonic series in general, is the noticable lack of interactivity. Yes, sonic is very fast, but at what price? A good portion of the first two levels of the game have you in no control at all as Sonic races through loops and corkscrews or is propelled through neverending vaccuum tube-esque passageways. When you do find yourself in control of Sonic, more often than not he'll be stuck on a (slow) moving platform, which is a moment that always seems to last ten times longer than it should. And let's not forget the legendary lameness of the Sonic underwater sequences, which require a ten-second wait just to see our hero sink to his death at the bottom of the screen. The contrast of this to the fast-paced hijinx of the rest of the game will often make it seem more gratifying to just shut off the system in mid-level rather than continue to trudge along in desperate search of a way out of the hellhole you had so painstakingly tried to avoid.

Fortunately, these pitfalls are amended once you reach the fifth level of Sonic 2, which sees you on a gorgeous mountaintop, surrounded by a curious combination of boreal plantlife and overflowing lava pits. Why Sonic apparently picked the exact moment of a volcanic eruption to chase down Dr. Robotnik will likely remain in the bottomless pit of oddball videogame logic, atleast until Sega decides to respond to my emails. This entry features a better mesh of Sonic's ''roll into a ball in order to move very very fast'' ability and actual gameplay, as well as a memorable and catchy bluegrass sort of soundtrack to boot. The rest of the game seems to abide by this ethic (although it slips a little at ''Mystic Cave Zone''), and adds more gimmicks and less-traditional level themes to keep things interesting. Certainly the entire experience seems to be a crescendo of quality. In other context that might be a good thing to say, unfortunately though, in the case of poor old Sonic 2, things just don't work out that way. What's the point of swearing your way through three or four underwhelming pseudo-stages in order to progress to the mildly impressive chocolately Sonic goodness that is the rest of the game? That's right, mildly impressive, for despite Sonic 2's rock solid platforming action, it really can't compare to an entry in, much less the apex of, rivaling platforming mascots, or even other games of the genre on the very same system.

Despite all this, the main reason Sonic 2 doesn't seem to be as good as its predecessor is simply because we've already seen it. The inferior reiteration of ''Green Hills Zone'' is a prime example, but the entire game just seems like an extension of the original. It has the same cutesy demeanor, the same lame bosses (GET A ****ING CLUE MR. ROBOTNIK, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WIN!), the same flashy graphics. Even the dreaded water levels don't seem to be as good at the at least fair Labyrinth Zone. The levels themselves are different enough from each other, but I need an entirely different concept in order to be satisfied. So while Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is probably an enjoyable experience, it really doesn't cut it as one of the platforming greats.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/20/03, Updated 03/22/03

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