Sonic 2 (Sega Mega Drive) Retro Game Review

Sonic 2 Sega Mega Drive retro game review

Sonic 2 is a timeless classic on the Sega Mega Drive
It’s hard to believe I’ve never written about Sonic 2! Back in the prime time 16bit days Sonic was one of the most prominent characters in gaming. Typically it would be an argument between which console was better: the Sega Mega Drive or the Super Nintendo which led to a further argument of Mario Vs. Sonic the Hedgehog. Which ever was you look at it I believe it is hard to find a definitive answer. Ultimately I look back and laugh on those days that I chose to side with the Super Nintendo because I adore the Sega Mega Drive in 2018. What better game to sit down and discuss none other that Sonic 2.

With the bright green shine of the Emerald Hill Zone grass topped with the crystal blue of the sky, Sonic 2 starts with an absolute bang. Straight out of the staring blocks and I remember at just how vibrant Sonic 2 seemed in comparison with its predecessor; Sonic. Everything seemed more polished from the breakable TV screens, the palm trees, the launch pad springs, bridges and more. Sonic 2 really made a lasting impact on us all back in 1992 with its impressive looks and feel. Even today in 2018 Sonic 2 looks incredible considering its a game that’s over 20 years old. What would the Sega Mega Drive have been without such a powerful game? For me Sonic 2 provided endless challenges: trying to get all of the rings in the Special Zone, trying to keep Tails in check and dodge the merciless obstacles in zones such as Chemical Plant Zone. I could go on.

Sonic 2 first boss

The Sonic and Tails duo took over the Sega Mega Drive in 1992
Tails
One of the first noticeable changes in Sonic 2 compared to Sonic was the introduction of Tails. What did you think when you first saw Tails on your CRT TV’s back then? Firstly, we know that Tails is both playable and a non-playable character. Secondly, the difference between the two is startling depending on how you approach it. As a non-playable character Tails is both an asset and a pain in the ass. Tails is great at collecting missed rings, landing on missed TV Screen and killing missed enemies. Typically Tails moves with Sonic so when Sonic jumps Tails jumps shortly after. Arguably you are controlling two characters at once. Whilst this can be a bonus it can often be a burden. Sonic 2. At times Tails frequents death and for me this can slow the pace of the game. Take the Social Stages for example. When Tails crashes the game noticeably drops a few frames. On the grand scale of Sonic 2 this is a monitor issue but one I feel I must mention.

As a playable character Tails is feels much more agile, albeit his legs move like he is slipping on ice. Brace yourselves for some classic split screen action with Sonic on the top and Tails donning the bottom half of the screen. For me the split screen works great!

Along with the introduction of Tails Sonic 2 also saw Super Sonic bursting in to the series. Super Sonic is a lot faster than normal Sonicand can jump a lot higher. Super Sonic can be unlocked by collecting all seven of the Chaos Emeralds then collecting fifty rings on a level. After one quick jump Sonic morphs in to Super Sonic. Alternatively you can pop the cheat in too and voila you’ll be running around Emerald Hill Zone as Super Sonic instead. But we won’t talk about cheating now will we?

Sonic 2 special stage

Sonic 2 Special Stages were so iconic
Levels/Acts
There are eleven different level zones in Sonic 2 with each level having two acts. This does not include Metropolis Zone as this has three, Sky Chase Zone, Wing Fortress and Death Egg Zone.

  • Emerald Hill Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Chemical Plant Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Aquatic Ruin Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Casino Night Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Hill Top Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Mystic Cave Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Oil Ocean Zone: Act 1 / Act 2
  • Metropolis Zone: Act 1 / Act 2 / Act 3
  • Sky Chase Zone: no map. It’s not like there IS anything to map on this level anyway.
  • Wing Fortress Zone: Act 1 – this map is by WKSchraff unlike the rest of the maps, which are by Stealth. It is also FULL SIZE instead of zoomed out. If anybody wants to provide similar maps for the rest of the levels then please do
  • Death Egg Zone: Act 1

Source: https://qntm.org/maps

I’ve always found there to be excellent variety in the level designs in Sonic games. Sonic 2 has 11 zones including the final Death Egg Zone in which Sonic battles. If you’re skilled then you should be able to complete Sonic 2 in just over one hour. On top of the awesome level design the music in Sonic 2 is fantastic. To this day the tunes of Sonic 2 are as familiar as any gaming soundtrack out there. What are your thoughts?

The Legacy
Sonic 2 inspired many Sonic games over the years. With the most recent Sonic Mania (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC) you can utterly feel the Sonic 2 vibe above any of the original Sonic trilogy. What’s more that there Sonic 2 HD is in development. Whilst this is an unofficial Sonic 2 remaster. Gone have the 16bit polygons and incoming the ultra HD fibres of Sonic and Tails. I can appreciate that a Sonic 2 remaster is not for everyone it is clear how much of a lasting impact Sonic 2 had on fans around the world. Check out the trailer to it below. Should you want to try the demo it is available on Windows only at present.

Sonic 2 is a game that we should all be familiar with. It’s hard to say anything remotely bad about it. Sonic 2 packs a punch visually, musically, design-wise and conceptually. Sonic 2 really did help to carve the series in to something magical and it’s refreshing to see the characters live on in more recent Sonic games. Long live the blue hedgehog and his friends.

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