A year after the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 burst on to the scene. Sonic 2 is very similar to the original, but builds on many of the concepts and ideas introduced in the first title while piling on nearly twice the number of levels. The most drastic change was the introduction of a sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower. The new character allowed a simple 2-player competitive mode, borrowing levels from the single player to add a much needed multi-player component. Tails could also follow Sonic around in single player mode, and could be controlled by plugging in a second Genesis gamepad.
Arguably the most dramatic improvement is the implementation of the Spin-dash. By ducking and pressing the jump button, Sonic would rev up in ball form. After revving up enough, the player could stop pressing down to get a burst of speed while staying rolled in to a ball. Beyond those two additions, however, gameplay for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remains relatively the same; your goal is still to get to the end of a level as quickly as possible, while destroying as many enemies and collecting as many rings as possible. Rather than having three acts and a boss fight (as in Sonic 1), Sonic 2 features only two acts per level, with some exceptions (Metropolis Zone features three acts, Sky Chase, Wing Fortress, and Death Egg all feature a single act each).
Chaos Emeralds also returned from the original, offering up an additional 7th Emerald (instead of the original game's 6). The special stages were done on a endless half-pipe which Sonic ran forward on collecting rings and avoiding enemies. If he had enough rings when he hit the checkpoint then he would continue until eventually obtaining a Chaos Emerald. Collect all 7 and Sonic would be able to transform into Super Sonic. In this form Sonic becomes even faster and rather than his usual blue is colored a bright yellow.
Not content just exploring his home of South Island, Sonic the Hedgehog's adventures took him all over the globe. It was eventually he found himself at West-side Island, said to be home to a lost civilization. This civilization were given seven "Chaos Emeralds" of great power as a gift from the Gods. Eventually, this power corrupted the civilization, and this angered the Gods greatly. As punishment, they sealed the emeralds away in an alternate dimension called "The Special Zone".
Intrigued, Sonic lands his biplane, the Tornado, on the island. It's here Sonic runs in to a shy, two-tailed fox named Miles - Sonic nicknames him "Tails" for obvious reasons. Tails, as it turns out, loves machinery, and he is fascinated by Sonic's plane. Before the two can get too acquainted, however, they hear an explosion in the distance. Doctor Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik has followed Sonic to this island, and is tearing it apart looking for the Chaos Emeralds. He hopes they will act as an energy source for his greatest, most deadly creation: a giant, weaponized space station called the "Death Egg." Together, Sonic and Tails agree that Robotnik has to be stopped at all costs.
The Special Stage is played from behind Sonic in a 3D half-pipe. The player is given a target of the number of rings they have to collect as Sonic runs through the pipe whist avoiding the bombs. If the target is met then the stage continues, if not then the player returns to the level where they entered the Special Stage with a total of no rings. By meeting all the targets in the Special Stage, the stage is cleared and the player unlocks a Chaos Emerald. Each new Special Stage is harder than the one which preceded it and they have to be completed in order with no way to skip to the next one without completing the one previous.
After collecting all 7 Chaos Emeralds, compared to the total of 6 found in the Master System version, Sonic gains the ability to change into Super Sonic after collecting 50 rings. When Sonic becomes his super form he is virtually invincible, running and jumping much higher than normal, only able to be killed by drowning, being crushed, falling off the screen or by running out of time in the level. This added speed comes at a price as it makes it almost impossible to do precise jumps due to the increased speed as well as loosing 1 ring a second whilst in super form; with Sonic reverting back to his normal self when the rings reach zero and effectively making him a sitting duck to enemies.
Two Player Versus Mode
Sonic 2 also included a two versus player mode where, playing as either Sonic or Tails, you can have a split screen race on one of 3 different zones or a Special Stage. In the regular zone races, on either Emerald Hill Zone, Casino Night Zone or Mystic Cave Zone, players are ranked in 5 different areas with the highest score winning the round. On the Special Stage the winner is the one who collects the most rings. In the case of a tie in the regular zones a Special Stage is then ran to determine a winner. Two player mode also added a couple of new item boxes. One being a teleporter which switched the two players around, the other being a Dr. Robotnik item which damaged the player that found it.
Compatibility with Sonic & Knuckles
By slotting the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cart into the top of the Sonic & Knuckles Lock-on featured cart you could play as Knuckles in Sonic 2. The game is essentially exactly the same with the player playing as Knuckles instead of either Sonic or Tails. He can glide and climb walls but due to his inferior jumping ability some boss fights are more difficult as Knuckles. There are a few minor differences in the way Star Post checkpoints are handled however as when returning to a level after a Special Stage you keep the rings you had before you went in, where in the default game you lost all your rings. The same applies when a life is lost.
The Genesis version of this game was re-released on:
Numerous mobile phone versions also exist.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has 11 zones, plus one special stage. This is twice as many as the original Sonic, which had 6 zones. However, a big difference this time around is that most of the zones have two acts instead of three. This is not a hard and fast rule though, as the Metropolis Zone had 3 acts and both the Death Egg Zone and the Wing Fortress zones had only one.
Emerald Hill Zone
This zone is similar to the Green Hill Zone of the previous Sonic game. It’s set in a tropical resort that features many trees, green hills and wildlife-themed enemies. Dr. Robotnik appears here in a vehicle with a giant mechanical drill attached to the front. He travels back and forth in an attempt to impale the player, and due to this simplistic process, he is therefore relatively easy to defeat.
Chemical Plant Zone
This zone is set in a bustling industrial city that is flooded with a neon pink liquid, Sonic can survive while submerged in this, but only for a limited time since there are no air bubbles. Dr. Robotnik makes his appearance with a suction tube clipped onto the bottom of his ship, which he uses to extract toxic materials from the liquid below, which he will then attempt to drop on the player. The player must attempt to avoid these attacks while remaining on the platform, which features panels that will successively rotate.
Aquatic Ruin Zone
This zone is set in the half-submerged, swampy remains of a crumbling ruin. Players who fall into the water will find that they have a harder time than those who were skillful enough to stay dry, as the underwater path is significantly harder than the land path. Robotnik appears here with a giant mallet attached to his ship, he will hit down on two columns that flank the player on either side of street, causing them to shoot out arrows. The player must use these arrows as platforms in order to be able to reach Robotnik and bring him down.
Casino Night Zone
This zone is reminiscent of the Spring Yard Zone of Sonic 1, in that it is set up to be a giant casino themed pinball table. Of course, this means the player must try and get past obstacles such as bumpers and slot machines in their attempt to reach Dr. Robotnik. He appears here at the bottom of a pinball table, with a set of electric pincers on the bottom of his ship. He uses this to drop bombs on the player, so staying on the ground is inadvisable. Instead, the player must spin dash up to, and utilize, the bumpers in order to hurl themselves at Robotnik.
Hill Top Zone
This zone is set just above the clouds, on top of a set of hills. Sonic must cross over the top of the hills, and then delve down into it to face pools of magma and earthquakes, which makes the floor rise from under him. Here, the doctor emerges from the lava in a heat proof submarine with a flamethrower attached on top. He will repeatedly emerge from the lava and attempt to shoot the player with flames, which also sets the ground on fire. The player must strike out at Robotnik once he emerges from the lava, while avoiding the jet stream of flames.
Mystic Cave Zone
This underground zone is set in a deep cave, which is covered in crystals. Sonic must swing from vines and avoid being crushed by crystals while they progress on their way to Dr. Robotnik. If the player manages to get through this stage, they are greeted at the end by Robotnik, who has a pair of drills attached on either side of ship. He uses these to drill into the ceiling and create sharp debris that will fall on the player if they’re not careful.
Oil Ocean Zone
This zone is a giant oil refinery which features pools of thick oil that that the player can skim across. The oil is a double-edged sword, however, as while players can use it, if they are not careful they can sink into it and lose a life. Robotnik appears here in a submarine similar to the one he uses in the Hill Top Zone, but instead of a flamethrower, he now has a laser cannon that is much more lethal. Another new tactic he uses is that when submerged, he will send out a claw that travels over one of the platforms on the screen.
This is the only stage in the game to contain three distinct acts. This massive, construction themed, zone features corkscrews, copious spikes, magma and, of course, industrial themed moving platforms. After players make the lengthy excursion to the end of act three, they will predictably find Dr. Robotnik there. This time, he is surrounded by seven shaped pods, which rotate around him, creating a protective shield. Every time the player hits Robotnik, one of the pods will break off and transform into an inflatable copy of him, but these don’t pose a problem as they can be destroyed with a single hit. After all the pods have been destroyed, Robotnik will strafe across the screen with a laser beam. He is vulnerable in this state, however, as one more hit will send him packing.
Sky Chase Zone
This one act zone is set in the sky, as Sonic rides on top of Tail’s plane, the Tornado. Throughout the stage, Sonic’s partner will remain under Sonic wherever he goes, so falling isn’t a problem here. The player comes up against a variety of aerial themed enemies, but when they get to the end they will find that there is no boss in this stage.
Wing Fortress Zone
Tails' plane, the Tornado, takes a hit and begins to fall to the ground. Sonic bails out and lands on Robotnik’s Wing Fortress. This flying citadel has many different traps and enemies, but the biggest threat to the player is falling off the screen, as this can be done a little too easily. Here, Robotnik has built a contraption to do the fighting for him. He locks Sonic within an energy field, and along with Sonic there is a laser cannon which strafes to and fro across the top of the screen, attempting to periodically fry the player. Along with the cannon, there are three flying spike platforms that bounce off the walls. The player must use these as a platform in order to reach and damage the sensitive cannon, while avoid their spiked sides.
Death Egg Zone
After the fight in the Wing Fortress Zone, Sonic chases Dr. Robotnik into the Death Egg. This, ringless, zone consists of two separate bosses. The first is Mecha Sonic, this doppelganger has some of Sonic’s moves, as he jumps and spin dashes across the stage. The player must hit him in the head while he stands still in order to damage him.
After a few hits, Mecha Sonic goes down, and Sonic progresses into the next room for his final confrontation with Dr.
Robotnik. The giant robot he appears in lumbers slowly around the arena, but the lower half of said monstrosity is invulnerable. The only way the player can reach the breakable upper half is to wait for the right moment. After trudging around for a bit, Robotnik rockets off the top of the screen, causing a target to appear over your character. When the target begins flashing, the giant egg bot is about to come crashing down. Immediately after landing, the machine lurches forward presenting the only safe opportunity to attack. But the player has to be careful as every other fall, he'll fire off his spiked arms which are near impossible to avoid unless you're out of reach. After twelve hits Robotnik will go down, and the ending of the game begins.
Hidden Palace Zone
By using a Game Genie, it is in fact possible to get into the Hidden Palace Zone in the retail version on Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The code to unlock it is ACLA-ATD4 and then going into level select and pressing A and Start together when highlighting the Death Egg Zone. The level is obviously unfinished and cannot be completed without creating the Egg Prison item in debug mode. Bits of the level design seen in the numerous Beta versions of the game are still there including the infamous 'Master Emerald' block. All level art seen in previous Betas have been deleted presumably to save cartridge space and most of the textures as a result are just a glitched mess. In the background however, you can see some art from the Oil Ocean Zone. In the 2013 iOS and Android release of the game, this level was finally added into the game.
8-bit Master System/Game Gear Versions
Tails being kidnapped by the evil Dr. Robotnik. In order to guarantee his safe return you play as Sonic to stop Dr. Robotnik, thwart his evil plans, rescue Tails and retrieve the 6 Chaos Emeralds.
The gameplay of Sonic 2 on the Master System/Game Gear completely different to the Genesis version however its was greatly updated in comparison to the original Sonic game also released on the Master System.
It featured the ability to collect back up rings that you had dropped when you were hit by an enemy as well as being able to smash through some walls by running into them. The game also featured levels where Sonic was required to ride along in a mine cart or fly a hand-glider. There was also a large bubble in the underwater levels which would allow Sonic to float upwards till he hit the ceiling or an enemy as well as the ability for Sonic to run on water provided he had enough speed; a feature absent from the 16-bit Genesis version of Sonic 2 but later implemented in Sonic 3.
There were 7 zones in the game in total, each made of 3 Acts, with a prize panel being spun at the end of Acts 1 and 2 in which you could earn an extra life. a continue, plus 10 rings or nothing, depending on which picture it landed on. Act 3 is the zones end level boss where Sonic must usually defeat a variety of robotic animals in order to proceed to the next zone.
If the player manages to collect 5 Chaos Emeralds as they progress through the game, when they Mecha Sonic and defeat him they will be given the 6th Emerald and go on to fight Dr. Robotnik in Act 3 of the next and final zone, the Crystal Egg Zone. Defeating Dr. Robotnik here will unlock the "Good Ending". Failure to collect all 5 Chaos Emeralds before the encounter with Mecha Sonic will result in the game ending after his destruction and the player receiving the "Bad Ending" in which it is assumed that Dr. Robotnik has killed Sonic's friend Tails.
The Game Gear version of this game was re-released on:
Sonic the Hedgehog 2's soundtrack was composed by returning musician Masato Nakamura, bass guitarist for Japanese Pop-music band Dreams Come True. The song that plays after you defeat the final boss (but before the credits roll) is in fact a karaoke version of a Dreams Come True song known as "Sweet Sweet Sweet" (or, as its known in America, "Sweet Dream"), from their triple-platinum album "The Swinging Star."
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 nearly did not happen. After completing Sonic the Hedgehog, Yuji Naka resigned from Sega of Japan. Sega of Japan paid its employees based purely on how long they had been employed at the company, and given that Yuji Naka was still relatively new, he was not being paid very much, despite having worked on one of the most prominent titles for the company. He was lured to America by Mark Cerny, who worked for the Sega Technical Institute (STI). STI was formed to help bridge the gap between the relatively new American game developers and the seasoned Japanese game developers. Yuji Naka and most of SonicTeam agreed to take part in this, and officially, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was started at STI, featuring a mixture of Japanese and American developers and designers.
Like the original Sonic the Hedgehog, a Character Design contest was held, this time to give Sonic a sidekick. The winner was Yasushi Yamaguchi's "Miles Prower" design. However, most of the team agreed that the character should be renamed to "Tails". Yasushi fought hard to keep the name as "Miles", even going so far as to make sure in-game art assets all read "Miles" instead of "Tails". Eventually, the team decided on a compromise - though the character's full name would be "Miles Prower", most people would call him "Tails" as a nickname.
Initially, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was planned for the Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear (which was also ported to the Master System), and an enhanced port to the Sega CD. All versions of the game were slated to feature Time Travel in some capacity. As the projects went on, however, Sonic 2 for the Sega CD began to drift rather heavily from its Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear counterparts. Eventually, Sonic 2 for the Sega CD was re-named altogether to become its own separate Sonic game, titled Sonic CD and Sonic 2 for the Sega Genesis dropped the Time Travel gimmick. Sonic 2 on the Game Gear existed as sort of a middle ground in between it all; it features remixes of music from the Japanese version of Sonic CD, and a plot where Tails gets kidnapped (instead of Sonic CD's Amy Rose). Unused footage for a Sonic CD video sequence gives a brief look at an Antlion Robot very similar to the first boss of Sonic 2 for the Game Gear.
- The design for The Death Egg in this game most likely came from a Japanese TV commercial for the original Sonic the Hedgehog, wherein Sonic pilots a space ship to destroy a massive space station similar to Star Wars' own Death Star, but modified to look like Dr. Eggman's face.
- Early beta versions of the game reveal that, at one point, even more levels were planned for Sonic 2, including Wood Zone, a stage set in leafy tree tops, and Dust Hill Zone, a western-themed stage full of cacti and desert-dwelling robots. Hidden Palace Zone, not to be confused with the Sonic & Knuckles stage of the same name, also exists in the beta version, along side an unplayable entry for a "Genocide City Zone". The stage "Neo Green Hill Zone" also exists, though selecting it from a stage-select menu takes you to Aquatic Ruin Zone, possibly suggesting it originally went by a different name earlier in development.
- Interviews with various Sonic 2 graphics and level designers reveal even more cut levels never seen publicly: A recolored version of Dust Hill Zone to transform the sand in to snow, a Rock Zone, and a level called Cyber City Zone, possibly another name for Genocide City Zone. Genocide/Cyber City was supposed to take place between Metropolis Zone and Sky Chase, but time ran out - what work was completed on Genocide/Cyber City became Metropolis Zone Act 3.
- Level layouts from the cut level Wood Zone match up with level layouts for Metropolis Zone, possibly hinting at Sonic 2's now lost time travel feature. This suggests that Wood Zone would have possibly been what Metropolis Zone looked like in the distant past.
- Many of the resources made for deleted Sonic 2 levels eventually made it in to Sonic Spinball, another Sega Technical Institute game. Tiles for Hidden Palace Zone can be seen in the background for Toxic Caves, and graphics for a level called "The Machine" match up with concept art drawn for Cyber City Zone.
- Furthering the lost connection between Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, artwork of Sonic CD's "Little Planet" showcases areas on the planet that represent all levels present in the game, save for the top-right corner of the planet: A desert region, covered in cactus, reminiscent of this game's Dust Hill Zone.
- By collecting all seven chaos emeralds and fifty rings in a level, Sonic can transform in to the invincible Super Sonic form. Super Sonic is a bright golden yellow color with up-turned spikes, an obvious reference to Dragon Ball Z's Super Saiyan form. Yuji Naka was reportedly a big fan of Dragon Ball, and during his stay in America, had VHS tapes the latest episodes shipped to him weekly from overseas.
- Foxes, in Japanese folklore, are mischievous mythological beings sometimes refered to as a "Kitsune" (pronounced "Kit-Sue-Ney"). As a Kitsune ages, it grows additional tails, up to a maximum of nine. Additional tails on a Kitsune represent the level of mystical energy and intelligence within the being. Some stories say that a Kitsune will only grow a new tail every 1,000 years. A Kitsune with 9 tails is said to have infinite wisdom, and usually has fur that appears golden in color.