Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or simply Sonic 2, is a platform game developed by American studio Sega Technical Institute in collaboration with Sonic Team, and published by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis. It was released in Japan on November 21 1992 and in North America and Europe three days later on November 24 1992. It is the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog and was followed by Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in 1994. The game introduces Miles "Tails" Prower as a new playable character. The story follows Sonic the Hedgehog and his new partner Tails on their mission to stop the evil Dr. Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his Death Egg. Sonic and Tails must defeat Robotnik's army and free their friends.
As of June 2006, it has sold six million copies. The game was compatible with Sonic & Knuckles lock-on feature which allowed the player to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2. It has been included in a number of compilation packages on a range of platforms; on June 11, 2007, the game was made available on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console, and released for Xbox Live Arcade on September 12, 2007.
While cruising over the ocean in his antique biplane, the Tornado, Sonic notices a small island particularly lush with greenery. He flies down for a bit of vacation time, closely followed by an unseen figure that lands on the opposite end of the island... The tiny resort turns out to be West Side Island, which, as the folklore goes, was once the home of a flourishing civilization. The people of the island utilized the power of seven mysterious stones for the advancement of their society. However, their prosperity lead to avarice, which did not sit well with the gods. The displeased deities reclaimed the stones and sealed them away.
After a few days on the island, it occurs to Sonic that he's being followed. His pursuer is a young fox with two tails who, upon being discovered, dashes into the shade of a nearby tree. Sonic ignores him and zooms off, but the fox whirls his two tails like a propeller and follows the blue stranger at full speed. Sonic is impressed both with the fox's tenacity and his ability to keep up, so he decides to let him tag along. He learns that his new companion is named Miles Prower, though the animals of the island call him "Tails" after his unique mutation.
Early one afternoon, Tails discovers the Tornado sitting on a beach. Being fascinated by all things mechanical, the young fox eagerly runs up to the machine for a thorough investigation, but shyly pulls back when he spots Sonic snoozing in the shade of a wing. His awkward moment is interrupted by a huge explosion from the island's interior. Sonic snaps up to see the forest ablaze and robots scouring the area. It doesn't take the blue hero three guesses to figure out who's behind the disruption: Dr. Robotnik, who had discreetly followed Sonic onto West Side Island, is now tearing the place apart in search of the seven Chaos Emeralds. He needs fuel for his Death Egg, a planet-sized space station with unthinkable power. Sonic and Tails take off to locate the Emeralds before Robotnik and squash his evil ambition once more.
The gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 builds upon the basic set-up of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. The player finishes each level, generally moving from left to right, within a time limit of nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Along the way, rings are collected and Badniks are defeated. Star posts serve as checkpoints, where if the player were to lose a life then he or she would return to one. When the player has collected at least 50 rings, star posts can be run past for an optional Special Stage. At the end of act 2, Sonic confronts Dr. Robotnik, although there is an exception in the Metropolis level in which there are 3 stages.
Although zones have grown significantly in size since Sonic the Hedgehog, they now consist of two acts instead of three (with the exception of the Metropolis Zone, which has three acts, and the three final zones, which each have one), and there is greater emphasis on variety between levels. The gameplay has also become even faster; to that end, Sonic is able to perform a new special move referred to as the Super Spin Dash Attack. The Super Spin Dash attack allows Sonic to spin in place, as if revving up an engine, before taking off at high speeds from a stationary start. Sonic's running motion also features longer strides.
Special Stages track Sonic from behind while he runs through a (semi-) three-dimensional half-pipe course filled with rings and bombs. A certain number of rings must be collected to pass through three checkpoints and eventually obtain the emerald itself. The order of stages is fixed in rising difficulty, and Sonic cannot enter the next stage without passing the previous (unlike Sonic 1). Whether the player is able to obtain the emerald or not, Sonic is transported back to the last star post he hit in the zone when the special stage is over and has zero rings.
From the options menu, players can select to either play as Sonic alone, Tails alone or Sonic and Tails. By default, players control Sonic while Tails tags along unhindered. However, a second player may control Tails separately. He can collect rings and attack badniks, but can't break open item boxes. Should Tails move off-screen, he will eventually return. Every time Tails dies (except when playing as Tails alone), he returns to Sonic by flying down to the ground.
In case of a tie, an additional Special Stage round must be completed. Also, to heighten the stakes, there are two unique items in versus-mode: a teleport item that instantly switches positions between players in a zone, and a Robotnik item that damages the unlucky player. Furthermore, an optional setting allows that all item boxes in two-player mode are only teleports.
In Sonic 2, there are 7 special stages. When Sonic has collected at least 50 rings and he hits a Star Post, a red halo of stars will briefly float above it, which Sonic can then jump through to get to a special stage.
Special Stages track Sonic from behind while he runs through a three-dimensional half-pipe course filled with rings and bombs. A set amount of rings must be collected to pass through three checkpoints and eventually obtain the emerald itself. When nearing a checkpoint a reminder will appear to inform you how many more rings you require to pass the point. Should Sonic run into a bomb he will lose several rings and will be immobilised for a brief moment. The order of stages is fixed in rising difficulty, and Sonic cannot enter the next stage without passing the previous (unlike Sonic 1). Whether the player is able to obtain the emerald or not, Sonic is transported back to the last lamp post he hit in the zone when the special stage is over and has zero rings.
Taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the predecessors, the designers of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 intended for the graphics to display the "natural beauty" and "mechanical texture of materials forming a clear contrast with each other." The staff introduced new graphic elements such as the special stages with 3D-like appearances. The crews responded to a comment regarding the predecessor by increasing the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in relation to its predecessor.
A prototype of the game, dating from before Sonic 2 itself, was discovered on a Chinese GeoCities site and has been widely distributed on the Internet. Only four levels can be played in "normal" gameplay; the rest have to be accessed through the level select code. There are three scrapped stages found in the prototype.
Many are not entirely playable, but can be explored using the debug code. The prototype is frequently examined by hackers to determine how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was developed. It was recently stated in an interview with Yuji Naka that this beta was from a demonstration cartridge that was stolen at a toy show in New York in 1992. Akinori Nishiyama has also stated that the leak was due to the lack of security at the time.
In Asia and Brazil, the prototype version was put on cartridges and passed off as the final version by pirates who have altered it slightly to stop the Sega logo from showing when the game boots up, as was common practice.
In 2006, a member of Sonic Retro community nicknamed drx released an earlier prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on his website. Many speculate that this is the prototype that was shown on an episode of the TV show Nick Arcade.
On February 23, 2008, 464 Mega Drive prototypes were released. Five of these prototypes were later builds of Sonic 2. These prototypes were near-finished and by this time, had been ridden of the lost stages (Hidden Palace, Wood Zone, Genocide City, etc.)
Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a game activated by locking Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to the passthrough cartridge of Sonic & Knuckles that was released later by Sega. The resulting game is almost identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, except that one plays as Knuckles the Echidna. As Knuckles has abilities and weaknesses that Sonic and Tails do not, the game is an overall different experience. Knuckles can glide and climb walls, which allows him to gain access to areas otherwise hidden or unreachable by Sonic and Tails, while his weaker jumping abilities make some situations, such as certain boss fights, more difficult. The two-player mode and options screen have also been removed. Players who are most familiar with the level layouts in Sonic 2 will notice a few minor differences. Unlike in the default game, when a player activates a star-post and enters the special stage, the ring count remains upon returning to the regular stage. Also, Knuckles will retain the number of rings he had when he passes through a checkpoint, after a life is lost, while Sonic and Tails start each checkpoint with zero rings whenever they lose a life.
The game's main criticisms were of the two player racing mode that was a new introduction to the series. It suffered from slowdown and some visual problems such as flickering and the small area for each player. It only offered four different zones that could be played in the two player racing mode.