541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

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JaySevenZero
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541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive/Genesis and/or Master System versions) for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Jobobonobo
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Jobobonobo »

It is the height of irony that contrary to its ubiquity on so many platforms these days, that back in the day I could never find this in the shops. My cousin had Sonic 1, 3 and Knuckles but for some reason Sonic 2 was never available for us to rent or buy. It had become the elusive white whale of my childhood though thankfully I dealt with it in a healthier manner than Ishmael did with Moby Dick. I finally played it through the Sonic Mega Collection on Gamecube along with Soul Calibur 2 for 20 euros. Bargain!

What I noticed with Sonic 2 right away is that it actually lives up to the promises of the first game in terms of speed. Here, the careful platforming of Marble Zone and swimming at molasses speed of Labyrinth Zone are gone. Now you can blitz through all the levels if you are skilled enough and it is far more consistent quality-wise because of it. Even the actual water stage, Aquatic Ruin Zone, you can be completely free of getting your feet wet if you keep to the upper levels. Some very iconic elements of the series become established here such as Tails, the two act structure, Casino levels and of course, the Spin Dash. I was shocked that Tails does not actually fly here but just merely tags along with Sonic. I always figured he played a bigger part in the game than he does, notwithstanding the very end when he rescues you from the exploding Death Egg.

Speaking of which, I always was disappointed with how Sonic 2 ended. I do not enjoy the final boss. It is too long and with no rings, one mistake and you have to do the whole thing again. I might have put up with that when I was younger but nowadays I want a bit more of a fighting chance. The fact that you have to be so precise on when to hit him also makes things extra frustrating and oddly, the very opposite of the high octane shenanigans of the rest of the game. Dodging, waiting and hitting at the right exact moment are fine for most other games but feels too methodical for Sonic. Other than that though, Sonic 2 is a big improvement on the original and I think it sets a definitive blueprint on how to make a good Sonic game in terms of level design that complements the speedy movements of the blue hedgehog and the music is certainly up there as some of the most iconic on the Mega Drive. While it is not my favourite of the series, Sonic 2 is definitely one of the major highlights among his many adventures and one that I was glad to finally play all those years later.

3WR: Refines the formula

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Buskalilly
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Buskalilly »

I always liked the idea of Sonic better than actually playing his games. Sonic the Comic? Sign me up. A little plush of the old, round, 90s character? Adorable. But actually playing Sonic the Hedgehog after a lifetime of Mario was an exercise in frustration. Recently, a friend suggested I'd been going about it wrong, and I should have skipped the first game for the much superior sequel.

I bought Sonic 2 on my Switch and yeah, fair enough, its much better. Eventually frustration does set in, but even then I found it much easier to imagine gittin' gud at the later levels and actually enjoying them. Has it convinced me that Sonic is up there with Nintendo's best? Not in a million years. But I will admit Sonic had some good stuff to his name even before Sonic Rush.

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Kez86
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Kez86 »

In light of keeping this brief...

My history of the game (In Haiku)
Got it for Christmas
When I was just 6 years old
What a great present

My opinion (In Haiku)
You gotta go fast
Vibrant, well-designed, Tails!
A gentle challenge

3WR
Superb Super Sonic

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Magical_Isopod »

Being born in 1990, I was a little young to remember the cultural zeitgeist surrounding this game at launch, but it's one I always remember owning. Sonic 2 is an odd duck for me - the internet at large seems to remember this one very fondly, but it's always the one I skip over and kind of ignore.

Having played it over the last couple of days, I sort of understand why.

Sonic 2 is a rough game. In a lot of ways, it feels somewhat incomplete. The lens of history shows us that it is - it's lacking two full worlds that were intended to be in the game. But playing the game as it is, I noticed a lot of issues with things like collision and physics that, while existing in Sonic 1, felt much more pronounced here.

Sonic 2 also has relies really heavily on cheap enemy placement - they really, really love sticking a baddie at the top of a ledge you can see until you reach it, at which point your rings explode.

Some of the stages are downright infuriating too. Casino Night Zone in particular is something I dread encountering every time I play it. Metropolis Zone 3 is seemingly deliberately designed to snap controllers. Wing Fortress has possibly the single worst Sonic music track paired some really janky level design. And those special stages... By the gods, even if I enjoyed them - and I don't - they drag on for way too long. Collecting X number of rings is well and good, but Tails exists in these levels strictly to shed rings on your behalf. Immensely frustrating.

The game's not without positives though. This game is the advent of the spin dash, something that is now core to the 2D Sonic formula. A few levels - Mystic Cave Zone in particular - are really interesting and well-designed. And Mecha Sonic is one of my favourite antagonists in Sonic due to a very cool design and fun boss fight.

Taken on the whole though, this is my least favourite of the Genesis Sonic games. It's... Fine? But it's nowhere near the high standard of 1 or 3&K in particular. It just kinda feels incomplete and "half-way". It's not bad by any stretch - it's perfectly fine. But it does have some problems that would be ironed out in later iterations.

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sheeldz
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by sheeldz »

Sonic 2 might be the second game in the series, but it was the last of the Mega Drive games I played, and that has undoubtedly coloured my opinion on it. After the transcendental introduction to gaming that Sonic 1 was, I got Sonic Spinball next, then Sonic 3, then Sonic & Knuckles, and then Sonic 3D: Flickie's Island, and then finally Sonic 2.

Nothing touches Sonic 3 & Knuckles for pure Sonic-ness, in my opinion. Going "backwards" to Sonic 2 made me just wonder where all the innovations that Sonic 3&K had introduced - where were the elemental shields? Where is the pink echidna? Where is the Blue Sphere special stage? As a kid, this was a deal breaker.

Assessing now, as a much learned adult, I can see Sonic 2 for what it is - a game with a much grander ambition than it's prequel, with expanded stages and more intricate level designs, some of which are series all-time classics, such as Chemical Plant, Oil Ocean and Mystic Cave zones, along with the music being far more ambitious as well.

Adding in series mainstays, like Tails', Super Sonic, the removal of the Act 3 from (most) zones, and even the strange mechanic busting Sky Chase zone, I can see them now as amazing additions that obviously have not been rolled back in most of the following titles.

The key thing that I think Sonic 2 does manage to maintain is that it is the biggest rebuttal to the idea that Sonic was always about speed - only those who started in the Dreamcast era, when SEGA themselves started to believe it as well, will vociferously argue this point. Sonic 2 slows down in more areas to become a really tricky platformer. Chemical Plant zone has some of the most tense platforming sections in a Sonic game even to this day, Oil Ocean is a fickle beast at the best of times, and Aquatic Ruin is the slowest water level they've ever made. There is speed of course - having Sonic speed beyond the view of the actual TV in Chemical Plant zone will never not be a joy to see! But in there the momentum based platforming shines most of all.

But there are some missteps that make it feel like a half-jump towards classic Sonic. There are what feels like filler zones sprinkled here and there, like the entirety of the 26 seconds of Emerald Hill Act 1, and Hill Top zone, and the boss fights are far less iconic in Sonic 2 than in Sonic 1.

Oh, and whilst Metropolis zone has the most banger of all the music in the level, the less we speak about the spinning nut and preying mantis sections, the better.

Sonic 2 is a Mega Drive classic, and always will be, but it's probably the weakest of the sequels in the Sonic 2D series.

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seansthomas
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by seansthomas »

Whilst I maintain to this day that Sonic 1 is better on Master System than Mega Drive, the same can't be said of its sequel.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good 8-bit game. Faster, inventive and entirely its own entity, with colourful candy worlds, satisfying to find Chaos Emeralds and Sonic even gets to ride in a mine cart and use a glider.

I recall it being a lot sparser than the original in terms of enemies to achieve this though, and as such was a far easier ride.

But for me, Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive was where it's at.

I never owned it at the time. I wanted to, badly. And I probably could have had I not bought every gaming magazine on the planet just to read more about it. I recall vividly the free Mean Machines Sega video with Sonic 2 on it. I more or less wore the tape out.

https://images.app.goo.gl/LwbaaWsMcRZo43EF7

I recall running into the kitchen to tell my Mum that I was sure I'd just seen a teaser trailer on Channel 4 for the game, after I heard some distant noise approaching fast and a furry creatures eyes widen, as it said 'uh oh...'

A few days later a follow up ad emerged, splatting the poor animal and previewing Sonics arrival, in a suitably weird 90s fashion.

I had to wait a decade until I picked up a second hand Mega Drive in a charity shop to play it, and even then I only really enjoyed it fully when it came out on Switch.

And I think that video hangs over the game for me. I love the opening handful of levels but lose interest towards the end.

Even so, it's broadly a delight. Superficially better than the first game in every way. Cooler, faster, slicker, better looking.

And the music! What a score. Still stands the test of time and beats just about every game ever made. I listen to remixes of it even now.

Rightly lauded as a classic, and an iconic moment in gaming history; the character and games still entertain my kids 30 years on.

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Pconpi
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Pconpi »

I continued to catch up on the Sonic series having only ever played short sessions at friends’ houses growing up. My overriding opinion of Sonic didn’t change with the second game which is I have the nagging feeling I’m not playing the game “correctly”. Am I supposed to be flying through the level as fast as I can or am I supposed to be carefully platforming and collecting every ring? I feel like these two play styles are at odds with each other as Sonic seems to be designed to go fast and have that rollercoaster feel but I am rewarded with bonus stages and Emeralds by slowing down and collecting rings without getting hit by enemies. The level design also adds to this feeling with multiple paths to get through a level. This freedom of choice should be applauded but my experience is feeling like I missed something or went the wrong way. All this adds together so that when I finish a level I’m left with a feeling of what could have been. And maybe that’s the point? You can play it multiple times and find different routes. You have the freedom to just rip through it as fast as possible or you can slow down collecting rings and getting the bonus stage. I guess I’m just a sheep wanting to be told how to play and where to go in my platformer :P

Also, I was disappointed when I found out I couldn’t play as Tails in my single player run through. I had always thought the duo played like the pairs in the Donkey Kong Country series. However, it was made up for by Tails being the pilot in the plane level which is brilliant.

Finally, I played this on the 3DS and wanted to say how much I enjoy the way 2D platformers look when done in 3D. I wish we could have gotten more retro games done in this style but both the 1st and 2nd Sonic games look amazing on the 3DS. (I also have Shovel Knight, Streets of Rage 2, and Kirby’s Adventure which are all awesome).

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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by ColinAlonso »

Pconpi wrote: June 8th, 2022, 8:40 pmAlso, I was disappointed when I found out I couldn’t play as Tails in my single player run through. I had always thought the duo played like the pairs in the Donkey Kong Country series. However, it was made up for by Tails being the pilot in the plane level which is brilliant.
While you can't swap between Sonic and Tails in game, the options screen on the main menu has the option to play as Sonic and Tails (the default), Sonic alone or Tails alone.

Tails doesn't get player controlled flight until 3 though and Sonic flies the plane in Tails alone mode. :)

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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by ColinAlonso »

Sonic 2 got a new lease of life for me when my young nephew, 3 at the time, wanted to try my Mega Drive Mini. Emerald Hill Zone is very generous with ring and enemy placement and once he could jump over the odd set of spikes and some TV boxes he could get all the way to Act 2's boss. Now, he's a little bit older he can beat Chemical Plant Act 1, but still thrusts the pad over to me for Robotnik's drillcar. He doesn't play video games too often but is delighted he can get that far without help.

Personally, Sonic 2 is actually my least favourite of the Mega Drive trilogy, although that's mostly due to Hill Top, Oil Ocean and Metropolis Zones being my least favourite zones in the three games and only being split up by Mystic Cave Zone. Still good childhood memories though and fun to boot up even if I'd usually prefer 1 or 3 & Knuckles.

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Pconpi
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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Pconpi »

ColinAlonso wrote: June 21st, 2022, 10:08 pm
Pconpi wrote: June 8th, 2022, 8:40 pmAlso, I was disappointed when I found out I couldn’t play as Tails in my single player run through. I had always thought the duo played like the pairs in the Donkey Kong Country series. However, it was made up for by Tails being the pilot in the plane level which is brilliant.
While you can't swap between Sonic and Tails in game, the options screen on the main menu has the option to play as Sonic and Tails (the default), Sonic alone or Tails alone.

Tails doesn't get player controlled flight until 3 though and Sonic flies the plane in Tails alone mode. :)
:oops: Thanks for pointing out the options and looking forward to some flight in 3!

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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by ashman86 »

Sonic 2's a game that's for so long been a part of my history that I can't remember when or how I first played it. What I *can* remember is being 6 years old and going into a game shop with my dad to watch the employees demonstrating some of the newer game consoles. We had an NES at home, so I was naturally keen on the SNES (which must have only been a year old at the time), but my bias for Nintendo immediately faded away when one employee started playing Sonic the Hedgehog.

Some time later—it could have been weeks or merely days—I came home from school, and my dad pulled a large bag from his car with a brand new Genesis in it. Sonic 1 was a pack-in, complete with the "not for resale" labeling on the front, but we may also have gotten Sonic 2 along with it; all I can recall is both games being ever present with my Genesis.

Sonic 2 is, I think, the quintessential game sequel: a remix of the best Sonic 1 had to offer with the proverbial dial turned up to 11. The colors are more vibrant, the movement faster (that spin dash was a godsend), the music and sound crunchier. And, it added two-player coop, and no matter how janky or impractical it was, what could be more important to a young child forced to share the game with a younger sibling?

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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Hyperdeath84 »

Sonic was my proper introduction to gaming as a kid and therefore holds a very special place in my heart. Seeing the adverts for the Mega Drive version of the first game on TV was what made me want to play games and once I did, I was hooked for life. Sonic 2 was therefore a big deal for me when it first came out and at the time I absolutely loved it.

Now, nearly 30 years later I still like the game a lot, but acknowledge its flaws too. The addition of Tails is a great idea, but he can scupper an attempt at Super Sonic by losing rings constantly in the special stages. Playing as Sonic alone is ultimately the better experience as far as I’m concerned and the best way to attain Super Sonic. Speaking of which, DBZ is a bit like punk music for me in that I appreciate it inspiring things I like but I do not like the thing itself - Super Sonic is clearly a Super Saiyan rip off and I’m totally fine with that. It is a great reward for mastering the special stages and adds some replay value to the game too as you can rip through stages with very few worries other than drowning or pits.

The game refines a lot from the first entry and adds the spin dash mechanic which feels so instantly essential it makes playing Sonic 1 without it feel weird. The soundtrack is once again fantastic and the visual design of the levels is still impressively colourful and detailed. But the latter parts of the game are difficult in a fiddly way that makes reaching the end feel a lot harder in my late 30s then it did when I was 8 - maybe I’ve gotten worse, or just less patient with this kind of game design. For me Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the apotheosis of the original Sonic series, but I still like Sonic 2 a lot.

3 word review:
Gotta go Super!

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Re: 541: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Post by Tolkientaters »

Sonic 2 is a really fun that released 3 years before I was born, so I didn't play it at the time because it's order than me and I didn't play it till now because I didn't really grow up gaming. Playing it for the pod, I skipped Sonic 1 and went straight for Sonic 2 on my switch via the genesis NSO service.

It really hold up because despite how popular and successful it was I still haven't seen or played a lot of games like it, fantastic visuals and a great soundtrack really elevate it. But even without that, the gameplay is a ton of fun. It does a good job as a platformer allowing you to build momentum and those sections where you're speeding through a section with multiple loops feel incredible.

It's a fairly breezy game that I was able to get through on without much trouble aside from the pinball level which I hated because I'm bad at pinball and not great at 2D platformers, so the save states you get via emulation really helped out.

All in all I had a great time and was glad I finally got around to this gaming classic.

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