Review by NES4EVER
"Possibly the biggest threat to the mario license in the early 90's."
Sonic the Hedgehog was probably the most notable of characters to come out on the Sega Genesis, and he certainly put Sega on the map with his amazingly fun self-titled game Sonic The Hedgehog. It was the reason that children around the world wanted a Sega Genesis more than a Super Nintendo. Sonic was certainly Sega’s claim to fame during the early nineties, but did his sequels ever really amount to much? The first game was so much faster and creative than most games, that no platformer could really rival it in terms of speed. I give Sonic The Hedgehog 2 credit for trying to match the originality of its predecessor, but in the end, it lacks a bit in the creativity department. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, far from it, but it just doesn’t pack the punch of the original. With that out of the way, lets take a look at what the game is like.
The story begins with a Hedgehog named Sonic and his young apprentice Miles “Tails” Prower the two tailed fox. Ever since childhood, tails had idolized Sonic and knew he wanted to be just like him. Fortunately one day they became friends and they spent a large amount of time together just hanging out and kicking general butt. But suddenly the formerly defeated Dr. Robotnik unleashes yet another fiendish plan to destroy the world, this time with a sinister device called the Death Egg. To build this death egg, he has enslaved animals worldwide and turned them all into animal-robot hybrids called “Badniks” that he uses to do his dirty work for him. But the one thing he needs to complete his plans of world destruction is the Chaos Emeralds. Hearing of the villainous plan Robotnik has, Sonic decides to take it upon him to save the world. But wait! What’s this? He’s bringing Tails along too. Together, they will succeed at foiling Robotnik’s sinister plans once more.
The story is not captivating, nor original for that matter. Like many side-scrolling games before it, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 runs on the exhausted story of “really evil guy does something fiendish and you are the only person in the whole wide world that can do a thing about it”. It’s not really the story that caters to intellectuals (or anyone over 10 for that matter) it’s more of the thing that a young child would find absolutely adoring though, which is basically why the Sonic series played such a key role in the early success of the Genesis.
The zones in Sonic 2 are quite interesting. Now they are called zones supposedly because they are zones on the island that sonic resides on. The first zone is “Emerald Hill” and it’s a pretty good first level. There aren’t too many Badniks to get in the way, and those that do are pretty damn pitiful. For the most part, it’s just a walk in the park. To briefly explain the first level, it would be something like:
Go really fast
Jump on spring
Bop Badnik on the head
Nothing involving at all, but still mildly entertaining. After completing the level, you start at the beginning of the level once more, but the level is edited slightly to make it FEEL like a different level without having to actually make it another level. Lazy bastards. The biggest difference in the second stage of the zones would probably be the fact that Robotnik challenges you at the end of the second zone. So you basically start fighting in a small area against Robotnik and whatever technological trash he invented in his garage. Not much of an engineer for someone with a doctorate in something (Being a bad dude?). There are 10 more levels in Sonic 2, all of which have their own feel to them and needless to say are much better than the first in terms of gameplay and difficulty. Sonic flirts with disaster in chemical plants, caves, and even an oil ocean level. One of my favorites has to be a casino level which lets you do all sorts of interesting things like gamble with your rings, ride elevators and bounce off of walls like it were a mental institution.
It’s not the hardest game either. Throughout the game, older players will find out that while the learning curve becomes quite steep, it never really provides challenges to them. Usually, watching how they work can easily solve puzzles or traps. Robotnik battles are VERY easy as well, as you will be finding yourself sticking to the same old ‘strike wait, wait, strike’ routine. So it doesn’t really provide much difficulty at all.
In addition to the normal levels, there are also special stage levels where you basically travel through a pipe collecting rings and trying to avoid the bombs that come your way. You find them scattered throughout levels at certain level save posts. The goal of the game is to get a certain amount of rings before the time runs out, and however many rings you get in the special stage level, you get to bring back to the level you are in. The one problem I have had with it though is that sometimes (whenever my Genesis feels like punishing me) it will stop working right after I finish a special stage.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also sets itself apart from the crowd by letting two players simultaneously play a level in the two-player mode. Although there are only four levels (which are basically just levels from the normal game in split screen) there is lots of fun to be had. One of the best power-ups you can only get in two-player mode is the ability to switch positions with your friend. They can be right near the end of a level, but if they step on a switch box, they will go back to wherever you were and it makes for some crazy fun. Of the four, the two-player special stage level has to be the best. It pits you and your friend against each other and you must collect more rings than your friend.
So now that I’ve made it clear that Sonic 2 provides some awesome gameplay, but what about the graphics you ask? Well I have to say they are the ‘crème de la crème’ of the game. Probably one of the biggest reasons this game did so well was the furiously fast frame rate, and although there are hints of slowdown in the game, they are VERY seldom. Once Sonic gets up to full speed, you will be going so fast that by the time your brain registers something and tells your hands to slow Sonic down, you will have probably impaled the poor little blue bugger on an object already.
That out of the way, the rest of the game looks reasonably good. The backgrounds are reasonably detailed as well as colorful. Of course, most children aren’t intellectual enough to enjoy a deep story, so why not give them something they understand? Color! The levels are so vibrant with color that it’s gets hard on the eyes when you play in the dark. One of the best looking levels in my opinion is the Casino level. The dark background contrasted with all the gold and flashing lights really makes it look like a casino, without looking cheesy or compromising superb level design.
As for Sonic and Tails, they look pretty good too. Both run extremely fast and at times their feet look like they’re just making circles (much like cartoons) but what are you expecting from a two-tailed fox and a blue hedgehog?
Of the 12 or so Genesis games that I own, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has to sport the best music and sounds of them all. Unlike many midi songs, the background music is an absolute pleasure to listen to. From upbeat to suspenseful, all the music is done right. A few of the more memorable are the Casino zone songs, which is similar to jazz songs from the roaring twenties as well as the music in Metropolis zones. It had more of an upbeat tune to it and gave a sense of accomplishment for making it that far in the game. All in all, I think Sega did a spectacular job when it came to sound.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played through it. Sometimes just to enjoy the game, and other times just to see if I can still do it. Like other platform games, Sonic 2 is short and easy to beat, but it provides a lasting affect with its superb gameplay and awe-inspiring graphics.
To conclude, I would like to say that this is a must have game for any Sega Genesis owner. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is in good supply so it’s a cheap and easy game to find. And with the low price of games like this, you would be silly to pass this game up. It sold a hell of a lot of Genesis’ back in ’93 and there is a good reason why. It’s just a great game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/16/03, Updated 04/16/03
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