Great Games – Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Box art for the North American Release.

To celebrate my 25th blog post, I thought I would take a look at a game that I realized I haven’t talked about yet. This game holds a special place in my heart as it was the first video game that I ever played. After seeing what video games could be and the variety available to me, I was immediately hooked. So, in honor of this game and the milestone of my blog, let’s dive into the wonder world of this 16-bit platformer.

Screenshot of Emerald Hill Zone, the first level in Sonic 2. Notice the detailed background and textures around the stage, which creates a visually stunning environment.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released in November 1992 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis around the world. The game centers on Sonic, the titular blue hedgehog, and his partner Tails, a two-tailed fox, as they work to stop Dr. Robotnik or Eggman (depending on the region of release) from stealing the Chaos Emeralds. Gameplay revolves around moving through different stages, each having two or more acts with the last stage having a boss battle, in a 2-D side-scrolling fashion. The player can choose to operate Sonic, Tails, or both with Sonic taking the lead while Tails is control by AI. Each level has unique features and different environmental designs, which creates many atmospheres for the player. This game features many of the same abilities found in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, such as jumping on enemies to defeat them, but this game also features a new ability known as “Spin Dash”, where sonic curls into a ball and begins spinning in place before moving forward with speed. This ability is useful for taking down enemies, moving pass environmental obstacles, and giving the player that extra speed boost necessary for certain stage segments. Players can find different power-ups throughout the levels that will reward them with shields, invulnerability, super speed, or extra lives. The health gauge for the player is through collecting golden rings found throughout each stage, which will award the player with an extra life for each 100 they collect, but be careful, environmental hazards and enemies will take away ring if Sonic collides with them. If Sonic takes any damage when he doesn’t have any rings, he will lose a life. Similar to the previous entry, this game also features special stages, which give the player an opportunity to collect one of the many Chaos Emeralds. Collecting all the Chaos Emeralds will grant the player access to “Super Sonic”, a form that resembles a Super Saiyan, but for Sonic, giving him invincibility and speed at the cost of rings. Introduced in this game was the competitive mode, where two players have to make it through stages in a race fashion, however only 4 stages are used for this game mode.

The Special Stage in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was unique for the fact that it is played in a pseudo 3-D style, which is the only place in the game that is like this.

All of these things being said, it was a lot to take in when I was 4 years old, but it really opened me up to what was possible through video games. The hours that I spent playing this game gave me the appreciation to the hard work, detail, and design that goes into making a video game, which in turn inspired me to go to school and learn these trades. This is the best game in the entire Sonic franchise, in my opinion, because of it’s level design, the bright, detailed visuals, and the music that you find in each level is just beautiful. The sense of thrill a player has jumping, dashing, and essentially flying through levels at such speeds is always fun to watch and makes this game a perfect candidate for speedrunners. This game sold nearly 6 million units, second only to it’s original entry, and has been proclaimed as one of the greatest video games of all time. Sonic himself really helped in establishing SEGA as a major contender in the video game market and even pulled ahead of Nintendo for a time due to their aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns. I grew up being a Sonic fan through-and-through and many of the games afterwards were either good or disastrous (Sonic 06 I’m looking at you), but no other game can compare to what this title achieved at launch and beyond.

Every stage holds new obstacles and enemies that the player can encounter, but still holds to the basic principles of platforming and Sonic’s end goal.

I would highly recommend playing the original Sega Genesis games before playing more modern console titles and you will see the difference that I am talking about. I hope that one day SEGA will go back to it’s roots and create another title that lives up to the same hype as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had.

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