The war between Nintendo and Sega was in full bloom in the early 90s on the consoles of Super Nintendo and Sega’s Genesis. Sonic the Hedgehog was a smash hit and had a firm grasp on what made the Genesis a most own. Sega’s mascot would enter his second adventure in 1992 when Sega would develop and publish Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Today, we’re lacing up our favorite pair of red and white sneakers in this Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Plot:
During my review of Sonic the Hedgehog, I had discovered how different the opening plots were between the U.S. version and the Japanese version of the games. Japan painted a much different and darker version of the relationship between Dr. Robotnik and Sonic with Robotnik actively trying to kill Sonic with the Chaos Emeralds.
My Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review started the same as the first one as I discovered the differences between the two regions for the plot. In the American version, Sonic is just having a blast running around islands and is carefree. A fox with two tails, named Miles but nicknamed Tails begins to follow Sonic and act as a sidekick. Dr. Robotnik begins building a death star clone called the “Death Egg” that will cause a global disaster. The only thing holding back the destruction of the world is the Chaos Emeralds he is still seeking out. It’s up to Sonic and Tails to stop Dr. Robotnik and save the world.
In the Japanese version, Tails is described almost as an annoyance to Sonic who doesn’t care much about the fox as long as he stays out of his way. Sonic is more adventurous too, discovering islands by flying a plane and seeking out crystals like Indiana Jones. There’s a better backstory to the crystals too. On this island that Sonic has discovered the crystals were once said to bring about great powers but they were misused and cursed the island overnight. The Gods of the island sealed the stones away to hide them from other users.
Sonic soon realizes that Dr. Robotnik is already on the island searching for the crystals too to power up his Death Egg Spaceship that can destroy the world. In the Japanese manual, Sonic even calls Dr. Robotnik “a bastard”! Just like the first game, Sonic is cooler in Japan.
Whatever version you prefer, the plot plays out as Sonic finding his way onto the Death Egg with the help of Tails flying a plane. Sonic confronts Dr. Robotnik who jumps into a mech suit but it’s no use. Our favorite blue hedgehog defeats Dr. Robotnik leaving the Death Egg crumbling back down and Tails catching Sonic in the plane as they fly off.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Gameplay:
Some sequels destroy franchises, some barely make tweaks and just slap the brand name on it. Others can help launch a franchise into a mega-hit must-own that draws millions of fans. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 continues the success of the first and added just enough to the formula to create a tremendous game on the Genesis.
Sonic the Hedgehog was already a great game so there wasn’t the need for many tweaks, but what Sega did was take the best parts of the first installment and improve them. More boss fights, more complex levels, beautiful level design, and graphics. These improvements are all found in the sequel which made for a delightful playthrough during my Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review.
Just like the first, your health is not measured by a bar, but instead by how many rings you have collected. If you have at least one ring then you’ll be okay if hit by an enemy or object. Zero rings result in zero protection which makes the game a one-hit kill experience.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the original and the sequel is the introduction to Tails. He is a playable character now and I think it’s a great addition to the series. Tails plays very similar to Sonic, but the ability to switch between them is a nice touch.
There are hidden levels again that switch to a 3D view behind Sonic or Tails where your goal is to collect rings and if you collect enough you’re rewarded with a Chaos Emerald. I was not able to collect all the Chaos Emeralds in these bonus stages but if you do, Sonic transforms with a robotic suit after defeating Dr. Robotnik at the end of the game. Not much pay off in my opinion for the effort that is needed to see that.
My favorite segment during my Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review was the frequent boss battles between Sonic and Dr. Robotnik. There are more encounters with the evil doctor in this game and I fully appreciated discovering the various ways to defeat Robotnik’s latest machine. There’s something so satisfying about watching the explosions that follow after defeating Robotnik and his machines. The first boss fight has Sonic fighting a dune-buggy with a drill attached to it. When defeated the tires will fall off and roll off the screen. These small details make Sonic the Hedgehog 2 special.
The platforming aspect of the gameplay is smooth and each level feels unique even if some of them are copied from the first Sonic only restructured differently. Panic would also set in for me whenever I played a level with increasing water levels as Sonic can drown. You’ll enjoy solving the moderate challenges while treated fairly as you explore the level. There are few cheap kills but you do need to make note of them once you’ve crossed certain thresholds. Overall, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 does a great job of balancing the difficulty while presenting a challenge that most can appreciate.
Dr. Robotnik’s final encounter wasn’t too difficult once you discovered his pattern. It was a challenge, but one that felt satisfying to achieve that closed out the game. I’d scold myself if I didn’t mention the music of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It’s just as perfect as the first. You may only spend one hour playing the game but the musical notes and melodies can be stuck in your head for weeks afterward and that’s not a bad thing.
If I played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as a kid it was brief. I remember playing the first one while being babysat but I’m unsure if the same babysitter had the second. I do recall Tails and thought he looked really cool and enjoyed playing as him. Other than that, I don’t have much nostalgia for Sonic’s second adventure.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review Score:
A sequel that took the best of everything from the original and spun it into a superb speed-platformer filled with satisfying boss fights, detailed levels, and a new sidekick. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 proved that the blue speedy hedgehog wasn’t going anywhere and that Sega would still be a player for years to come against Nintendo.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 scores a 9.5 out of 10.
What would you write in your Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review? Which was your favorite Dr. Robotnik fight? How did you feel about the inclusion of Tails? Did you prefer the original Sonic or the sequel more? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I’d love to read them.