Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive) Review

By Renan Fontes 27.06.2016

Review for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Mega Drive

The original Sonic the Hedgehog was made with one goal in mind: rival Mario. At the time, nothing could really compare or compete with Nintendo's platforming giant, but SEGA put out a valiant effort using Sonic's speed as its primary pitch. What resulted was an above average platformer that was a bit faster than standard Mario fare. It was a good try, but it wasn't perfect. It needed some serious polishing; the kind only a sequel could give. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released just one year later, but just how much good did this year do for the blue blur?

As soon as Sonic shows up on screen with his new partner, Tails, it's clear some things have changed since Sonic the Hedgehog, the first being that Sonic is no longer alone on his journey to stop the nefarious Dr. Robotnik. No, now Sonic is paired up with an orange two-tailed Fox, charmingly named Miles "Tails" Prower.

Tails doesn't really do much outside of the occasional ring grab, but his presence is greatly appreciated on an aesthetic level. Colours are clearer and crisper than before, and Tails adds a pleasant orange to compliment Sonic's blue as they traverse levels that are primarily shades of green, purple, and grey. A small problem the first Sonic had was the hedgehog's dull blue sprite clashing with backgrounds, so it's nice to see Sonic Team addressed a relatively minor complaint and doing a beneficial overhaul presentation-wise.

The biggest and most noticeable change, however, is Sonic's run. To reach full speed in Sonic 1, Sonic had to move right at a consistent unbroken pace for five seconds. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 adds in a spin dash to circumvent this wind-up time. By pressing down and holding the jump button, Sonic revs up and launches out at full speed in a safe ball that can damage enemies.

To accommodate Sonic's new control scheme, the level design's scope has been scaled down to be tighter and more movement based. While Sonic 1 was indeed faster than most of its rival platformers, it took frequent breaks from the running and gunning that lured people to the hedgehog in favour of more traditional platforming. Acts were filled with countless breaking points, so Sonic could do some vertical jumping, completely halting the feeling of progression.

Screenshot for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Mega Drive

Sonic 2 fixes this by incorporating a subtle fast lane and slow lane feature. Typically, the top portion of a stage is the faster one, featuring reflex based jumps and enemy placements that require foresight and fast play to get around. The bottom portions of stages are much slower in comparison, featuring careful platforming sections that, while slower paced, never fully stop Sonic unless a grievous error is made.

As good as this new focus on speed is, Sonic Team unfortunately fell into the same traps Sonic the Hedgehog fell into in the second half. The fast lanes remain very fast paced and full of exciting speed-based platforming, but the slow lanes opt to, more times than not, feature slow paced, trial and error platforming sections that halt any attempt to maintain a consistent fast speed.

Thankfully, these problems aren't too frequent, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2's final Zones are filled with a suitable mix of high speed action and quick instinctive platforming. The spectacle was definitely increased in its year of development time, as Sonic 2 marks the first time in the franchise that some sort of storytelling is used, with the last three Zones telling a visual narrative of Sonic's confrontation with Dr. Robotnik.

Although it's clear that Sonic Team was still learning at the time, Sonic 2 manages to one up its progenitor in just about every way, cementing the franchise's place in video game history.

Screenshot for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Mega Drive

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 suffers from some unfortunate pacing problems midway through, but all its new features and design choices blend together to make a highly enjoyable platformer full of depth in spite of that. Thanks to a reworked control scheme and the addition of the spin dash, Sonic 2 takes the Sonic 1 formula and turns it into a reflex-based adrenaline rush of platforming gold, with a skill ceiling that rewards instinct and a smart play style, without ever punishing lesser-skilled gameplay. It's not the perfect sequel, but it's more than strong enough to stand amongst the ranks of the platformer elites of its generation.


Sonic Team




2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (5 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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