Monday 25 May 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear review)

Developer: Aspect
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1992

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released on the Game Gear and Master System less than one year after the original.  

Sonic the Hedgehog for the Game Gear was a short but decent game that managed to successfully capture the spirit of the Mega Drive titles on less powerful hardware. For the 8-bit sequel Sega decided to address once of the main criticisms and increase Sonic's speed. The problem is that the action is already zoomed in to fit on the tiny Game Gear screen; as a result you'll be wrestling with the slippery controls and taking many leaps of faith as you can't fully see your surroundings. There are seven levels (although one requires the Chaos Emeralds to unlock it) and some diverse locales including the first one which takes place underground and sees you riding minecarts. You'll also take to the skies and fly using hand gliders and tackle tough underwater stages. Most of the levels are brutal and the opening boss ends up being one of the most difficult in the entire game. At times it feels like the developers expect you to be a mind reader as there are bottomless pits everywhere. The most familiar looking stage is the fourth (Green Hill Zones); it's much easier and straightforward than the preceding stages and it's puzzling why this didn't open the game to balance the difficulty. The action is rarely enjoyable and Scrambled Egg Zone has to be one of the worst stages ever in a Sonic game! You're sucked into various pipes and if you don't know which sequence of directions to press you'll usually fall to your death! The only real positives are that the graphics are detailed and the game has loops that didn't feature in the original.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a horrible follow-up and a huge step back for the 8-bit series. The switch in developers from Ancient to Aspect did mean a significant increase in speed but it also made the game frustrating to control and, at times, an unplayable mess.

Random trivia: This 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released before the famous 16-bit Mega Drive game; this means that the Game Gear / Master System actually represented the very first appearance of Miles 'Tales' Prower.

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