Why Sonic 2 Isn’t “A bit shit”

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Every week, I listen to NGCast, which is our affiliate site Negative Gamer’s podcast.Recently, Editor-In-Chief Wardrox brought up how he had been playing Sonic The Hedgehog 2 properly for the first time and how he thought it was a “bit shit”. This comment was met by anger by the rest of the panel of the NGCast (except for Halfleft). He pointed out a number of flaws which stopped him from enjoying the game and unfortunately the rest of the panel (except for Halfleft) couldn’t put up a decent counter argument. With Sonic The Hedgehog 2 being one of my favourite games of all time, I couldn’t take this lying down so here I am to show Wardrox exactly why Sonic The Hedgehog 2 isn’t a “bit shit”.

Why Are There No Saves Or Passwords?

I thought I’d get this out of the way first since it seemed to be the biggest issue. To be honest, given that the game out in 1992, I thought this was a silly argument. Firstly, the game can be completed in around an hour so unless you have a bad case of ADD, surely you can sit down for about an hour to get through. Also, you get continues so if you happen to run out of lives, it’s not as if you have to start all the way from the beginning. Thirdly, if you’re going to pick on Sonic 2 for not having a password feature or saves, then why stop there? It’s not as if Sonic 2 was the only game that didn’t have any of these. Perhaps a bad example but look at the original Super Mario Bros. That doesn’t have any of the above because quite frankly, for the length of the game, you shouldn’t need a save. Same goes for Streets Of Rage, Golden Axe and many others. If these games were hours long then it would bug me but when most are completeable in around an hour and I have continues then being able to save or use passwords doesn’t bug me. Besides, if you really had to stop and carry on then you could either use a savestate via a port of the game or just use the level select cheat.

Why Is Tails There?

To be fair, Wardrox didn’t have the manual, so he wouldn’t know. In the manual we are told, and I quote “Miles “Tails” Prower, the Fox, can’t sit still when Sonic’s around. Ever since he was a baby fox, he’s dreamed of being like Sonic. He loves to run after Sonic, waving his 2 tails behind him, trying to keep up with his hero.” So that is why Tails is there. He is essentially stalking Sonic who is trying to stop Dr.Robotnik from taking over the world with his Death Egg and the power of the Chaos Emeralds. The real reason Tails is there though is so that co-op is possible in Sonic 2. Another reason that Tails is there is because you can torture him. Sega might have not intended this, but it never gets boring to make Tails jump into lava on Hill Top Zone for example. Besides, if you don’t have manuals for a lot of these games of the time then you wouldn’t know why everything is happening most of the time. Why is Mario with a dinosaur and why has the Princess been kidnapped? Who is Commander Keen and why is he being hunted by aliens? I rest my case. Now for reasons that Sonic 2 is awesome. Hit the jump for more.

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Imagination

It might be nothing special these days, but Sonic 2 has some lovely imaginative settings. From the grassy utopia of Emerald Hill to the Neon clusterfuck of Casino Night to the overwhelming mechanical city of Metropolis, each level is a pleasure to play through. As well being imaginative, the settings are also lovely for the 16-bit era, with great use of colours and visually appealing designs. While not as imaginative as Sonic 1, the zones are still good to play through on the eyes.

Level Design

Many people mistake Sonic games for simply being “run as fast to the right as you can”. While this is certainly possible,  It’s not the best way to play and certainly the least rewarding, which Sonic 2 is the perfect example of. Like I said, you could, but you’d never get enough rings for extra lives. You’d also never get the chaos emeralds because you would just run straight past the signposts (if you even had 50 rings by that point). You see, while I admit there is time bonus, it is more important to explore the levels instead of running straight through them, because only then will you find extra lives, shields and extra rings for example. I enjoy the level design because it is rewarding. Getting to certain sections of a level can be hard but if you manage to get there, you are rewarded for it. One example would be in Emerald Hill. There is a section you can run straight past but if you stop and jump onto and across the moving platforms, you will end up on top of a loop where there are a number of rings as well as a signpost for getting into the special stage and a chance of a chaos emerald. That’s just one example of why I think the game has good level design.

Kickass Music

Composed by Masato Nakamura, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 had one of the best soundtracks on the Mega Drive, if not one of the best 16-bit soundtracks. Each track is memorable and incredibly catchy and suits each zone it plays in well. I’m not even a fan of chiptunes and I enjoy the Sonic 2 soundtrack. Certainly, if the game didn’t have the soundtrack then it wouldn’t be as good.

So in conclusion, am I simply being nostalgic? I hope not. It’s not as if I haven’t played the game in years, hell I’ll play it at least once a month. For me, like Super Mario Bros 3 or Resident Evil, it’s one of those games that can be played through again and it will never get boring. Partly thanks to it’s short play time, it’s one of those games you can just pick up and play when you are bored one day and still enjoy. Of course I can’t offer the opinion of the game from a fresh perspective but at least appreciate that even if you didn’t particularly enjoy the game, it’s not “a bit shit”.

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