All Hail Sonic the Second

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After the great Sonic The Hedgehog Sega released Sonic 2, a game many fans in the series still view as the best game out their. Returning was Sonic and Dr Robotnik (the evil mad scientist bad antagonist) and joining the crew was Sonic’s best friend Miles “Tails” Prower, a two tailed fox. With the excellent first game Sonic had become Sega’s mascot the one to rival Nintendo’s great plumber Mario in the steaks of platforming games. Released originally on the Sega Mega Drive the game has been released on a host of compilation disks from Sega. A little known fact is that this wasn’t the first Sonic 2, the Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive was an entirely different game as the one on the Game Gear and Master System. Sadly having never played that version this is all about the Mega Drive one.

Sonic lands on an Island for a vacation, sadly it’s also the same Island Robotnik has landed on looking for a source of power for his Death Star clone (the Death Egg…very original) in the form of the 7 Chaos Emeralds (an improvement on the previous games 6). As Robotnik has sent out robotic minions in search of the emeralds Sonic’s vacation is off and he’s off to find those stones before the evil Dr. In tow is Tails a young fox from the island who had acted almost like a stalker to Sonic since he landed on the Island, it is down to those two to save the world from Robotniks evil wrath.

The first menu screen allows you to select 1 player, 2 player or the the options screens. Just for ease of reading the 2 player mode is a split screen race through some of the levels in the game, scoring is done on 5 criteria including time and rings that are with the player when they have managed to complete the level. Although not something you are likely to spend a great deal of time on it is a nice addition from the original game.
The options menu lets you play about with some of the settings, listen to music in the sound test menu (where you can also enter the cheats) and select whether you want to play as Sonic, Sonic and Tails or just Tails in the single player mode.

The single player mode is where you will almost certainly spend your time playing the game (if you’ve not already played it). The game is a typical platform game that has managed not only to sparkle it’s self in magic but put up a fight for great 2-D platforming gaming of all time. The game had expanded on every way from it’s predecessor, from the addition of Tails to the number of zones and complexity and size of them this, according to many, was the Sonic masterpiece.

The original sonic had had 19 proper levels in total spreading across 7 zones (and 6 bonus levels additionally) with 6 zones of 3 acts then the final battle with Robotnik (which many said was too easy after some of the previous levels.) Sonic 2 has 20 main acts (levels) spread over 11 Zones, the first 7 Zones each having 2 acts, the 8 zone having 3 acts and the final 3 zones each just having 1 zone (but linking directly together). The game again was based on collecting rings around the level which helped prevent Sonic from dying (if he had a ring and got hit he wouldn’t die, if he didn’t have any and got hit he would), earn points at the end of a level, allow him to enter the special stage to try and earn a Chaos Emerald and if 100 are collected an extra life. As they are quite liberally spread about the levels it’s not too much of a challenge to collect quite vast numbers of them through each act.

The game play keeps a similar logic again with the original game in that you’re (usually) running from the leftest most point on the level to the rightest most point on it. Returning with the key characters are Badniks (the baddies) and lamp-posts (the Checkpoints) which have become the new entrance to the special zones (if the player goes past a lamp post with 50 or more rings, the lamp-post will have stars spinning around it, jump through them to enter a special stage). Again the levels use things like bumpers and springs to aide (or hinder) navigation through the zones, but Sonic is aided in 2 new ways. The addition of the Spin Dash (which has been used in most games since) sees the blue hedgehog crouching on the ground looking like he’s revving up before letting loose quickly into a spiky hedgehog ball at high speed. And Super Sonic, which sees the hedgehog’s speed, acceleration and jump height increased whilst in the mode (after he’s had to collect the 7 chaos emeralds) he loses 1 ring every second. Like the spin dash this was then used through out many of the follow on games, and with the Sonic and 3 + Sonic and Knuckles game Hyper Sonic was even possible.

The levels often them selves fall into cliché mode with the first level the ever predictable green level where theirs grass and trees it’s out doors and quite peace. The second level is a large factory with industrial waste (an oddly recurring theme in this Sonic game), The third zone is an ancient ruins type level that starts to show the massive amounts of routes a player can now take through many of the levels and the complex level designs. The Casino Night Zone gives it’s theme away straight away, based in a giant blue and gold casino it’s one of the longest and most interesting levels with slot machines and pinball flippers to use. A bit of a monster in all honesty.
Hill Top zone fits into a bit of a volcanic meets green land a bit of a mix of the two that makes it one of the best levels and most interesting to explore with lifts and see saws the level really makes the most of what’s on offer. Mystic Cave was obviously a cave zone but again showed the vast amounts of routes through the level in what many consider to be the best designed of all the levels in the game. It was huge, it was expansive it was excellent and despite not being the most eye pleasing (it’s a cave, they aren’t pretty) it was a wonderful sight to behold. Oil Ocean Zone was another industrial zone based on an oil bottom the level again had multiple routes and lots of interactive scenery that makes many of the levels so much fun.
Metropolis zone is the only zone in the game with 3 acts in it and sees a rather industrial feel to it again with screws, pistons and large mechanical things that Sonic can stand on. This is final level before the game goes to single acts in a zone and apparently it was meant to be 2 zones but due to time got down graded into a single 3 act zone.

Sky chase is an auto scrolling level and sees the players character stood on top of Tornado (Sonic’s plane) with the other character piloting it. Though the level doesn’t have a sonic feel to it as it’s one paced and merely about surviving it is a nice segue into the following level and a nice time to relax after getting so far, it’s also the first (and only) level in the game not to contain a boss battle of any kind. The following level starts with Sonic (or Tails) jumping off the plane and onto the giant Wing Fortress plane, although the level is one of the most difficult it’s also one of the most enjoyable and by far the most eye pleasingly gorgeous. Though the level is quite linear it does have a couple of short cuts and tricks to make it easier. For those who had been playing as Sonic and Tails, the fox will not be seen again until the ending sequence having been shot down in the plane at at the end of the previous level. This is penultimate level in the game and it also one of the most frustrating through out due to a sequence that sees the player needing to make pin point movements or fall to their death. A similar theme was done in Sonic And Knuckles on the second zone.

The final level is by far the most difficult featuring just a boss and a sub boss but no rings the level sees the player fighting a metallic sonic and then a robotic Robotnik on the Death Egg it’s self, Compared to the original game the battle is stupidly hard and yet also annoyingly addictive as a challenge that you feel you need to do after all the work you’ve put in so far.

As well as length the game improves on both the sound and graphics of the original game, though Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles both improved drastically on this aspect it was still a step up. The special stages had now become a 3D coin collection made instead of a revolving (head ache inducing) maze that had been in the original game and the game just seemed that little bit more magical. The water levels from the original game had been brought into Sonic 2 in such a way that water was almost avoidable due to the multiple routes through the game.

Some Cheats for you to use if you do so wish:
Zone Select: Play tunes 19, 65, 09, 17 on the options screen, then press A+ the Start button on title screen.
14 Continues: Play tunes 01, 01, 02, 04 on the options screen.
Super Sonic: Play tunes 04, 01, 02, 06 on the zone select sound test (Zone Select has to be done first)
Debug mode + Slow-motion/Restart: Play tunes 01, 09, 09, 02, 01, 01, 02, 04 on the zone select sound test, a ring sound triggers (again Zone Select needs to be done first)
Super Sonic + Debug: Play tunes 01, 09, 09, 02, 01, 01, 02, 04, 01, 02, 06 on the zone select sound test, a ring sound triggers after 04 and an emerald sound triggers after 06, select zone, hold the A button until Sonic appears. (once again Zone Select needs to be done first)

Overall it was the premier stand alone Sonic game of the Genesis era with depth and longevity, although lacking the graphical and musical qualities of the follow up it made up for it with more levels and more to do. Arguably a better level design as well was used here than there, though often feeling like this would have done with the battery back up (save) mode that Sonic 3 had due to the fact this could literally take hours to complete not just 1 or 2 like Sonic 3 could be done in. The magic of Sonic was fully running wild back in the 1990’s, sadly now a days us Sonic fans need to go and buy collections such as the Mega Drive Ultimate Collection to play top quality Sonic games like this. Sega sort your act out with the 3D Sonics or go back to the brilliant 2D games.

Trivia: The game could also be played with knuckles if it was attached to the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge.

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