Put on your nostalgia glasses, people: This is old-school Sonic at its finest!
23 years ago, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog 2. For those who were born in the 2000s and onward, the time period was just after what many gamers call the Golden Age of gaming took off. Those who know their gaming history know Nintendo’s then recently released Super Nintendo (aka the SNES) and Sega’s Geneis consoles were dueling for supremacy on both sides of the Pacific. Back in the day, the battle lines were clearly drawn: You were either a Geneis fan or a SNES fan. Mario is synonymous with Nintendo and nothing says Sega like Sonic the Hedgehog.
In 1991, Nintendo released Super Mario World on the SNES. It was also the then-new system’s launch title and came packaged with new SNES consoles. Super Mario World aka Super Mario Bros. 4 is still considered one of the greatest 2D platfomers ever made. Yoshi, who would go on to get his own game franchise made his debut in Super Mario World as well. Taking that into consideration, you can’t help but wonder how Sega would respond.
Sega’s answer: Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Sonic 2 picks up six months after the events of the first game. After having his plans foiled by Sonic, Dr. Robotnik (aka Dr. Eggman) is back and enslaving cute animals in his robots again. This time, he’s building a secret weapon in the sky. Sonic is joined by newcomer Miles “Tails” Prower Fox, a two-tailed fox that can fly by spinning his tails like a helicopter. Sonic also gains a new move that has been staple in every game released since: The Spin Dash. Hold down and press a button to charge up speed and power. Release the button to launch forward in a burst of power. The then new Spin Dash move came in handy for breaking through breakable walls to get to otherwise inaccessible areas.
The other new feature that’s become staple in almost every Sonic game released since: Super Sonic.
Have Sonic collect all seven Chaos Emeralds from the special stage. Once that’s done, collect 50 rings and then double jump (just once in the 3DS Virtual Console version). Bang, you get Super Sonic. Super Sonic comes with invincibility, increased speed and a higher jump. Only getting crushed, drowning or falling offscreen can kill him. There is a cost to being Super Sonic: You gotta keep collecting rings to maintain the form. Your ring count falls 1 per second. Once it hits zero, not only do you change back but you’ll die if you collide with something bad.
My favorite level all-time is the Doomsday Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The Super Sonic-only zone has you fly in space as you chase after Dr. Robotnik after you destroy the Death Egg. Speaking of the Death Egg, it makes its first appearance in Sonic 2. It’s a single zone in Sonic 2 but it’s a 3-act zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. In Sonic 2, you will go into the Death Egg Zone with ZERO rings. You will have to defeat Mecha Sonic–whose first appearance was in Sonic CD the year before–and then Mecha Robotnik in the next room without making a single mistake. One wrong move and you’ll have to do it all over again.
The first time I played this level, I was 8 years old. I burned through 12 of the 17 continues I racked up during that first playthrough on just this one zone. There’s no Save Point so if you die on Mecha Robotnik, you have to fight Mecha Sonic again. Each boss takes 12 hits to down. Once you do, it’s the greatest feeling ever. Two years later, the story continues in Sonic 3.
Before I forget, there are cheat codes. No third-party device needed. Even better, 3D Sonic 2 has a Save Slot so the Cheat Codes are permanent if you want them to be. To get Level Select, go to the Option’s Menu and then play 19, 65, 09 and then 17 in that order from the Sound Test. You will hear a chime. Next, press Start to go back to the Title Screen. Hold A (assigned to Y on the 3DS) and press Start to go to the above screen. I remember doing this for a kid when the game was on display in a Toys R Us in 1994. As you can probably guess, the kid went straight to the last level!
The other two codes I’ll share both require the Sound Test from the Level Select Menu. Play 04, 01, 02 and 06 in that order to get all 7 Chaos Emeralds. All you gotta do is collect 50 rings. For the other code, enter 01, 09, 09 02,01, 01, 02, 04. This will give you Debug Mode. Start a level by pressing Start while holding A to enable Debug Mode.
…Whew, for me the nostaliga went into overdrive!
Overall, I give 3D Sonic 2 a 10/10. Weather you played the original Genesis version or one of the ports since then, Sonic 2 is timeless like Sonic 1 and Sonic CD are. Even better, 3D Sonic 2 has 2-player mode but both players will need a copy of the game. Sadly, the latest reports also say 3D Sonic 2 may be the last 3D classic. The source is unreliable so I am treating it as only a rumor right now. Should Sega make more 3D Genesis Classics I’d like to see Shining Force, Shining Force 2, Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Jewel Master, Golden Axe, Golden Axe II, Golden Axe III, Phantasy Star III and Phantasy Star IV.