Retro Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Developer: Sega Technical Institute
Release Date: November 1992
Rated: E – Everyone
Sonic 2, originally released for the Sega Genesis in November 1992, is one of simple action sidescrollers iconic of that time period. The game is still widely played, having been adapted multiple times for nearly every generation of consoles. Many of the early stages featured in the Genesis era segment of the recently released Sonic Generations were redesigned variations of the levels from this classic title. So why is it still so popular after nearly two decades?
After you conquer the oddly colored liquid obstacles in the Chemical Plant Zone (if you can, that is) you’ll start to appreciate Sonic 2 for what it truly is: A fun, challenging, and highly memorable gameplay experience.
Sonic 2 features some of the most exciting gameplay from the era in which it was born. As a Sonic game, it is naturally fast paced. But several other factors contribute to the unique experience. The story has more depth than its predecessor, despite the simple imagery and complete lack of dialogue. Sonic has a new companion named Tails, allowing the campaign to be completed in single player or (admittedly a very limited) co-op mode.
The stages in Sonic 2 follow the same basic pattern as the first, but feature unique new environments and even more challenges to face. The player will usually have to face 3 Acts full of pitfalls, lava, spikes, enemies, and a boss battle with Dr. Robotnik before moving on to the next Zone. Sound easy? It is. Until you consider that the game predates the internal memory feature that allowed for game saving. Losing your last life in the last Zone was probably one of the major contributors to the modern-day concept of “rage quit.”
In addition to the main adventure, Sonic 2 features a two-player versus mode. This mode features two fun and challenging competitions. The first is a race to see who can finish a stage from the game faster. The players take turns completing one of three stages from the game. The second player must finish the stage in no more than 60 seconds or automatically loses. Afterward, the two players are ranked based on score, time, rings collected, rings at the end of the level, and items gained. The second competition takes place on a special stage and pits Sonic against his pal Tails to see who can collect more rings during a set course. Unfortunately, only the second competition allows the players to compete directly, rather than through comparing separate scores.
Aside from gameplay, the title also features a soundtrack that most gamers will now instantly identify with the Genesis era. The music differs for each zone and has a unique tune for boss battles, which keeps it from getting repetitive. While the lack of a save feature does add to the challenge of the game, it often means restarting and playing the early levels of the game over and over again. There is practically no dialogue to be found anywhere in the game, but like most early (non-Nintendo) side-scrollers, the Sonic games are at least partly defined by this characteristic. The story, characters, and experiences are simple, yet memorable. Sonic 2’s challenging stages, exciting gameplay, and fun multiplayer mode easily make it one of the most recognizable titles of the early 90’s.
+Simple, fun concept
-No save feature
-Early levels are repetitive
-Near complete lack of story