DPrime Retroview – Sonic the Hedgehog 2


Originally posted on DefaultPrime

As mentioned in our Sonic the Hedgehog review last month, the original Sonic the Hedgehog was less about speed and more about platforming. You were constantly being stopped to jump over gaps, defeat enemies, or avoid obstacles. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, for the most part, looks, controls, and sounds much like the original Sonic, but a refocusing in the level design helps set it apart from the original title and helped push the franchise in a direction that everyone is familiar with today.

Right out of the gate, Sonic 2 looks very similar to the first. Bright high contrast graphics fill the screen and Sonic is still pretty much his same spikey blue self. The first real noticeable difference is that now a fox named Tails now follows behind you. Sonic 2 is the first appearance of Tails. And if you don’t know already, Tails is pretty much Sonic’s main sidekick. Tails follows behind Sonic through the levels and can collect rings and attack enemies. Often he will fall behind off of the screen, but he makes it back to you fairly easily. He isn’t all that useful, but he doesn’t get in the way either.

 

While Tails is probably the first addition you will notice, he isn’t the most important change. When you start playing through the levels in Sonic 2, you will notice that you start going fast. Really fast. And the game lets you continue to go fast. What I mean is, basically the amount of hazards and platforming elements are reduced and spaced out. Often you will have long segments of down hill slopes, loopty loops, speed boosts, and other long surfaces so you can build up speed. At times Sonic can even go off of the screen – further increasing the sense of speed. It turns out to be a very smooth experience, unlike the original which was a very stop and start like experience. The speed doesn’t compare to the super high-speed we see in some games today, but Sonic 2 players a good sense of speed even almost 18 years after its release.

Of course, it wouldn’t be all fun if all you did was hold down right on the D-pad the entire time. There are still platforming elements and some levels still have a larger focus on platforming than others. While some of the set pieces in a level still repeat like in the first title, the frequency at which they repeat significantly reduced. There is also a larger variety of areas from a visual standpoint as well. These two factors combined make it easier to differentiate areas from each other. Multiple paths return as well, but some of the levels feel a bit linear.

Initially, Sonic 2 looks very much like the original Sonic the Hedgehog. But as you continue on, more and more detail seems to be put into the levels. The title also increases the layers of graphics as well, which definitely would have been very impressive for its time. Despite looking significantly better then the first, the title has virtually no slow down. Sonic 2 still has a very strong sound track that fits the game well, but the music doesn’t seem as memorable as some of the tracks from the original.

The main portion of Sonic 2 is a bit lengthier then the first, but it can still be completed fairly quickly if you don’t run into much trouble. You can also play through the game as Tails for a slightly different ending. Tails had yet to gain his ability to fly in Sonic 2, so for the most part he plays almost, if not identical, to Sonic.

Sonic 2 has a two player mode where one player plays as Tails and the other plays as Sonic. The multiplayer mode allows two players to play through a handful of areas. The goal is left a little open ended. You can compete to get to the end first or you can play cooperatively. The level size is a bit too large for two players, so overall the multiplayer feels a bit disconnected at times since players will rarely interact with each other.

As previously mentioned, Sonic 2 looks, controls, and sounds a lot like the original Sonic. What really is the big difference here is a much greater focus on speed rather then platforming. Whether or not that is a good thing is really up to the player. If anything, it won’t cost you much to try Sonic 2 out yourself. Sonic 2 is pretty much in every Sonic or Sega Genesis collection out there by Sega. The cartridge for the original Genesis / Mega Drive version is pretty much as cheap as dirt as well.

Be sure to check back in a month for our review of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. (Note from the future: Sonic 3 review never happened due to Sonic the Hedgehog 4 episode 1 being delayed)

Score: 8.9

Pros:

  • Smooth and fast gameplay
  • Detailed graphics that are significantly improved over the original
  • Larger variety in level design over the original
  • Aged very well

Cons:

  • Multiplayer mode is nothing special
  • Loose controls, but forgivable with less focus on platforming
  • Fans of the original Sonic may not like Sonic 2
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