A Look Back on Sonic the Hedgehog 2: A 90’s Platforming Masterpiece?
Back in the early 90’s the one game that I wanted to play more than anything was Sonic 2. Sadly I never owned it and it was one of those games that I occasionally was able to play at a friend’s house or on store displays. At home the only major game console I had was a NES and eventually the closest I could get to experiencing Sonic 2 was on the Game Gear in 1993 as a Christmas present from my sister. The Game Gear version wasn’t a bad experience (it was a port of the Master System title) but it just wasn’t the same thing.
I wouldn’t get a chance to play it properly until 2010 when I stumbled across a copy of the Sega Genesis Collection for the PSP. The urgency of wanting to play Sonic 2 had faded away by then but I still had a curiosity and a sense of indirect nostalgia to find out what the fuss had been about. Were the massive magazine spreads and reviews I had pored over as a child hyperbole or justified? Even after all the years and various Sonic titles that had been released, I found myself blown away by the fresh, bold level design and the sense of balanced speed and control over the main character.
There was several improvements to the original title, with the inclusion of a secondary character Miles ‘Tails’ Prower joining our hero and enabling a new multiplayer mode one of the highlights. Tails controlled a lot like our main hero, the twin tailed fox was never able to fly when controlled by the player – although this ability was hinted at when being controlled by the AI. This disappointment regarding the secondary character design was diminished by the opportunity for two player action due to his inclusion. This was a new head to head feature that the original Sonic title didn’t have, this mode splits the screen horizontally and although it compressed the graphics on each side. It can be stated that Sonic 2 included a far better multiplayer aspect for Sega than Mario had for Nintendo, in the Mario games you could not control both brothers simultaneously.
Sonic also had a new additional to his moveset, the Spin Dash. This was activated by crouching down and holding the jump button, Sonic will then spin in place until you released the pressure off the trigger. This enabled Sonic to speed away like a rocket, reaching eyeball bursting speed and was one of the most impressive technical feats for the Megadrive at that time. This move also enhanced the gameplay of the series, as Sonic no longer had to run through a long stretch of straightway to get his speed up.
Summed up, Sonic 2 was an amazing sequel to the original breakout title. Taking the characters gameplay and overall feel of the original and enhancing each aspect. Sonic 2 became even more of a hit than it’s predecessor. It’s available in a multitude of retro compilation packages including the recently released Sega Genesis Classics title available for modern consoles and the PC.