I’ve played through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 more times than I care to remember. I’ve considered it to be the best Sonic game ever made.
Now that it’s available on Switch as part of the SEGA AGES range, however, I’ve changed my mind. Sonic Mania is now undoubtedly the best Sonic game. Though Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still rather brilliant.
Lovingly created by M2, SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has all the usual features: save states, screen size and filter options, the ability to remap controls. The controls are also perfectly responsive, unlike those in the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive Classics version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. That does, however, have fast forward and rewind features that aren’t found here, as well as more more screen filter options. You might be wondering then, if the improved controls are the only reason to pick this SEGA AGES version up.
Thankfully, the answer is no. As with all SEGA AGES games, there is additional fun to be had here. You can play through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as you normally would, but you can also make use of Ring Keep mode, which starts you with some rings and doesn’t make you lose them all when you take damage. It makes the game quite a bit easier to complete for young ‘uns or those who are new to the game. There’s also a stage select option so you can jump into any zone you’d like once you’ve reached them.
Complete SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and you’ll unlock Super Sonic Mode, too. This allows you to turn into Super Sonic at the beginning of every stage, granting you invulnerability, super speed and the ability to jump really chuffing high. It makes the game both easier and harder because… well, give it a go and you’ll see why. And that’s not all that’s new in SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
For those that have become accustomed to making use of the Drop Dash manoeuvre, it can be enabled/disabled by a simple visit to the game’s option menu. And lo and behold, you can play through the entire game as Knuckles the Echidna if you wish. I’ve never particularly liked playing as Knuckles so it didn’t float my boat, but it’s there and adds a bit of variety. You just have to be aware that the game really wasn’t designed with him in mind, so it does make some aspects of it a little trickier.
And we’re still not done. For the competitive types, there’s a new 100 ring challenge mode, that asks you to – yes, you guessed it – collect 100 rings as fast as possible. Well, there’s actually more to it than that; you also need to complete the stage. Sonic and Knuckles are both playable, each with their own stage to race through. There are online leaderboards as well, of course, so you can spend as much time as you like trying to be number one across a range of objectives.
Like any SEGA AGES release, then, this version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 isn’t just a simple port. For fans, it’s a great way to celebrate a great game and have some fresh experiences with it. That being said, I did encounter some issues playing through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that soured my memory of it a little.
Tails, for example, is a complete and utter liability during the game’s Special Stages. I swore at him so many times trying to get all the Chaos Emeralds. He also stole my air bubble when underwater at one point, causing me to drown. I won’t forgive him for that. The game’s also prone to slowdown at times, especially when you’ve just lost all of your rings.
More problematic, however, was the time I got stuck between a Shield power-up TV and a wall, forcing me to either wait for the act to time out, or reload a previous save. That occurred close to an enemy that patiently sat at the end of a platform near some upward-firing bumpers, seemingly knowing that I had no way of using them without being catapulted into them and then sent back down to the bottom.
Honestly, it’s been that long since I’ve played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on an actual SEGA Mega Drive that I can’t remember if these are new issues or not outside of Tails being an idiot, but the slowdown is certainly present in the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive Classics version so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
As 2D platformers go, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is up there with the best of them. It has brilliant music, colourful visuals, inventive stages, and is generally just a joy to play. This SEGA Ages version is better than most thanks to its responsive controls and wealth of additional features, and that’s why you should probably pick it up. Whether you’re experiencing it for the first time or are a massive fan looking for another speedy blue fix, you can’t really go wrong with SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog 2.