Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Aspect
  • Publishers:
    • Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy
  • Released:
    SMS
    • UK 10/16/1992
    • Brazil 10/25/1992
    GG
    • UK 10/29/1992
    • US 11/17/1992
    • JP 11/21/1992
    • Brazil 1992
Score: 75%

This review was published on 03/19/2018.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a side-scrolling platform video game originally developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive in 1992. However, shortly before this version came out, Sega contracted an external development studio named Aspect to create an 8-bit version for the Sega Master System and Game Gear. The Master System version originally released in Europe on October 16, 1992, and Brazil on October 25, 1992. As for the Game Gear version, it initially came out in Europe on October 29, 1992, North America on November 17, 1992, and Japan on November 21, 1992. Despite sharing the same title with the 16-bit release on the Genesis, the 8-bit incarnation of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a wholly different game, featuring different stages, enemies, bosses, and even mechanics. Out of the two versions, the 16-bit one is the obvious winner, but there is still merit to the 8-bit version. Since I've already reviewed the 16-bit version, this review will be dedicated to the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

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In the previous game, an evil scientist named Dr. Eggman, who was known as Dr. Robotnik outside of Japan at the time, invaded South Island and began turning all the animals there into robots. It was then that Sonic the Hedgehog, a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog that runs very fast, showed up to foil the mad doctor's plans. Peace and quiet enveloped South Island after Sonic crushed Eggman's diabolical plans. Things were so quiet, in fact, that Sonic got bored and left South Island in search of other action packed adventures. When he returned, Sonic found no sign of his friends anywhere, but did discover a note notifying him that Eggman has captured all of them once again. One of the captured animals was Tails "Miles" Prower, a two tailed fox who is Sonic's closest friend. Wasting no time at all, Sonic dashed off into the distance to save his furry pals.

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Tails made his grand debut here, even predating his appearance in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. However, unlike the 16-bit version, Tails isn't playable here, neither by you nor the computer AI. In fact, you won't see Tails at all outside of the level title cards and the opening and ending story sequences. The weird thing about this is that the artwork on the title cards, game box, and manual all depict Tails happily accompanying Sonic on the adventure. Stranger still is the fact that there's even a nearly complete sprite sheet for Tails within the game's data. All of this evidence suggests that Tails was originally planned to be in the 8-bit version of the game, but was cut due to time constraints or other potential issues. Unless someone from the development staff officially confirms the reason behind Tails' absence, we may never know the truth behind this mystery.

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You control Sonic for the duration of this journey. The controls are as easy as pie: pressing left or right on the d-pad moves you in those directions, up allows you to look upwards, down enables you to crouch, and the two buttons make you jump. Like most Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic becomes a ball whenever he jumps, allowing him to attack foes. He'll also turn into a ball if you press down while running, which causes him to roll along the ground and smash through enemies or destructible walls. Unfortunately, unlike the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, this game doesn't have the Spin Dash maneuver that gives Sonic a quick burst of speed if you press the jump button while holding down on the d-pad. As usual, rings act as Sonic's life force, but he drops them all whenever he gets hit. Thankfully, unlike the 8-bit version of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but like its 16-bit relatives, dropped rings can now be recollected.

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Every stage in this game is entirely different from the 16-bit version of Sonic 2. The difference is immediately obvious, because instead of starting out in a grassy field with palm trees, the first stage in this version has you riding mine carts in a lava filled underground area. It's an unorthodox start for a Sonic title, and the first boss is also unusually hard. Even harder is the second stage, which makes you use a really unintuitive hang glider to glide over long chasms. Then the third stage is a water level where Sonic gets trapped inside bubbles and must maneuver around spikes. On top of that, there are no rings during boss battles like in the 8-bit version of the previous game. Interestingly, most of the bosses aren't Eggman himself, which is unusual for a Sonic title. Anyway, the unwelcoming beginning may give you a bad first impression, but the game does get better later on. For example, stage four is a fun and fast recreation of the classic Green Hill Zone, which honestly should've been the first level. Also, the music here was later used in the "You Can Do Anything" song in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.

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Unlike most games in the series, there are no Special Stages. However, this game still does feature Chaos Emeralds, one of which is hidden in each regular stage. As opposed to the seven that are in the 16-bit version, this game only has six emeralds, and getting them all doesn't unlock Super Sonic. Instead, acquiring all emeralds in this version allows you to play the true final stage, and successfully completing it results in the good ending where Tails is rescued. If you don't get all emeralds by the end of the game, then you'll fail in your mission to rescue Tails. That's a bit dark for what ultimately amounts to an optional endeavor that most people will likely miss on their first time through the game. However, it does add some replay value to the game, and that isn't bad.

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While vastly inferior to the 16-bit version, the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still solid. It's also an entirely different experience, so it's still worth checking out even if you've already played the 16-bit version. As for which of the two 8-bit versions you should play, you should definitely pick the Master System version over the Game Gear one. The Game Gear's smaller screen makes an already hard game even harder, because you can't see three feet in front of you.

Word Count: 1,072

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