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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

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This article is about the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game. For the Master System and Game Gear game, see Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit video game).
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic2 European Box.jpg
European boxart
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Sega Technical Institute
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Masaharu Yoshii
Producer(s) Shinobu Toyoda
Designer(s) Hirokazu Yasuhara
Takahiro Anto
Yutaka Sugano
Programmer(s) Yuji Naka
Bill Willis
Masanobu Yamamoto
Artist(s) Yasushi Yamaguchi
Craig Stitt
Brenda Ross
Jina Ishiwatari
Tom Payne
Rieko Kodama
Composer(s) Masato Nakamura
Series Sonic the Hedgehog
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Distribution 8-megabit (1-megabyte) cartridge
Compact disc

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Japanese: ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ2 Hepburn: Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Tsū?) is a platform video game developed by Sonic Team and Sega Technical Institute, and published by Sega for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis console. It was released in Japan on November 21, 1992 and in North American and European markets on November 24 the same year. The game is an installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and focuses on the protagonist Sonic the Hedgehog and his friend, a fox named Miles "Tails" Prower, who must stop the series antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his Death Egg space station.

Development of the game began in November 1991, two months later than originally intended, because Sega of America initially felt that it was too soon for a sequel. Both the American and Japanese Sonic Team staff contributed to developing the game; art director Tim Skelly designed the appearance of the game's new 3D Special Stages, which were based on an earlier tech demo created by Yuji Naka. The staff increased the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in comparison to its predecessor. As with the first installment, the soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura.

The game was a critical and commercial success upon release, with critics praising it for building upon the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. The game has sold over 6 million copies, making it the second-best-selling game on the console, behind only its predecessor in the Sonic series. Since its initial release, the game has been released in several compilations and download releases for various platforms, which were also generally positively received. A sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, was released in 1994.


The game's two protagonists are the titular Sonic the Hedgehog and his sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower; Tails is described as having idolized Sonic as a child and wanting to keep up with him.[3] The game's premise is similar to that of the original Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic's nemesis Dr. Ivo Robotnik is planning world domination with his army of robots, which he has placed animals inside, and the power of the seven Chaos Emeralds. However, this time he is constructing an armored space station known as the Death Egg. The goal of the game is to defeat Robotnik, optionally saving as many animals as possible and collecting all seven Emeralds.[4] By default, the game ends with Sonic riding on Tails' biplane, the Tornado. However, if the player has collected all of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic, in his Super Sonic form, flies alongside it.[5]


Sonic and Tails hop across pillars in the third level, Aquatic Ruin Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a 2D, side-scrolling platform game.[6] At the game's start, the player can select to either play as Sonic, Tails, or both.[7] In the latter mode, players control Sonic while Tails runs along beside him. A second player can join in at any time and control Tails separately.[8] The game takes place over a series of levels, each divided into one, two, or three acts with a boss fight with Robotnik at the end of the last act.[3] The character can jump on enemies to defeat them; the game also introduces a new move, the "spin dash" or "Super Dash Attack", by which the player curls in a ball and spins while stationary, resulting in a speed boost.[9] When the player is attacked by an enemy without rings, is crushed, falls off-screen, or exceeds the act's ten-minute limit, they lose a life and return to the most recently passed checkpoint.[10] Dying with zero lives gives the player a game over.[11]

The game's special stages, in which the player collects rings in hopes of obtaining a Chaos Emerald, are presented in 3D, unlike the rest of the game.

When the player collects at least 50 rings and passes a checkpoint, they can warp to a "special stage".[12] In these stages, the player runs through a pseudo-3D half-pipe course, collecting rings and dodging bombs. A set amount of rings must be collected to pass through each of three checkpoints and in turn to obtain the emerald itself. If Sonic collides with a bomb, he loses ten rings and is immobilized momentarily. The stages rise in difficulty, and the player cannot enter any stage without passing the previous one. After finishing, the player is transported back to the star post they used to enter the special stage.[13] When all Emeralds have been collected, if the player chose Sonic, he has the ability to turn into Super Sonic, which requires 50 rings or more.[5][12] Super Sonic is yellow and invincible to enemy attacks, and his speed, acceleration, and jump height are increased as well. However, he loses one ring per second and reverts to being regular Sonic when all of his rings are gone.[5]

The game also has a competitive mode, where two players compete against each other to the finish line, as either Sonic or Tails, in a split-screen race through three of the regular levels and a special stage. After one player finishes one of the regular levels, the other player must finish the zone within 60 seconds, or the level ends instantly. In the regular levels, players are ranked in five areas (score, time, rings held at the end of the level, total rings collected, and number of item boxes broken). The player with wins in the most number of categories, wins the level. In the Special Stage, players compete to obtain the most rings. The mode ends when all stages have been completed, or if a player loses all their lives, in which their opponent will automatically win.[14]

Connection to Sonic & Knuckles[edit]

Two years after the 1992 release of Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles was released in 1994. Sonic & Knuckles possessed a special "lock-on" cartridge, in which the player would put the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge into the Genesis, followed by a second game into the top of it. This unlocks Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a variation of Sonic 2 where the player instead plays as Knuckles the Echidna, a character who was not introduced until 1994's Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and was not playable until Sonic & Knuckles later that year.[15]

The game is largely identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with the exception that gameplay is altered due to Knuckles having separate abilities from Sonic or Tails. Knuckles can glide and climb walls, which allows him to gain access to areas that had been otherwise hidden or unreachable. Conversely, he cannot jump as high, making some situations, such as certain boss fights, more difficult. However, in this version of the game, the two player mode has been removed. The special stages are the same, though the amount of rings needed to progress has been decreased, and the score made within the stage no longer resets.[15]


Following the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic creator Yuji Naka quit Sega due to disagreements with several of the company's corporate policies.[16][17] Mark Cerny, who had recently founded the Sega Technical Institute (STI) at Sega of America, met with Naka in Japan and offered him a higher salary and more creative freedom if he joined STI.[16][17] Naka agreed, and Hirokazu Yasuhara, the lead level designer of Sonic the Hedgehog, also decided to move to STI.[16][17] Yasuhara had in fact been previously assigned to help Cerny establish STI in 1990, but the outbreak of the Gulf War delayed his move to the United States by three months, during which time he joined Sonic Team and became engrossed in the Sonic project.[18][19] Development of Sonic 2 began in November 1991, two months later than Cerny had intended, because Sega of America initially felt that it was too soon for a sequel.[16] Both Americans and Japanese Sonic Team staff contributed to the game; art director Tim Skelly designed the appearance of the game's pseudo-3D Special Stages, which were based on a tech demo created by Naka.[20] Sonic 2 also introduced Sonic's sidekick, a two-tailed fox named Tails, who was inspired by Japanese folklore about the kitsune and created by level artist Yasushi Yamaguchi. Sega of America originally objected to the character's name being simply "Miles Prower" (a pun on "miles per hour"), so he was given the nickname "Tails" as a compromise.[21] Masaharu Yoshii served as the game's director. The staff increased the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in relation to its predecessor.[22]

The game was originally believed to contain time travel elements and also have a port to the Mega-CD/Sega CD, Sega's add-on for the console.[23] Neither of those reports ended up happening with the game's final release; a port to the Mega-CD/Sega CD never surfaced, and time travel was instead implemented in an original Sonic game for the system entitled Sonic the Hedgehog CD.[24]

The game is notorious for having content and levels being removed to the game prior to its release. Yuji Naka has remarked that a prototype from a demonstration cartridge was stolen at a New York toy show earlier in 1992.[25] Sega's Akinori Nishiyama has stated that the leak was due to the lack of security at the time.[26] The prototype features a playable section of a level titled "Hidden Palace Zone", a level cut out of the game shortly before release. Naka said of the level:

The basic idea was about the same as it was in Sonic and Knuckles. You'd encounter the stage through normal play by collecting the emeralds. The idea behind the stage was, "Where do the Chaos Emeralds come from?" That's where Sonic was originally supposed to be granted his Super Sonic powers. We finally were able to use it in S&K, though it wound up being quite different from what we had planned in Sonic 2. But even from Sonic 1 we'd been throwing around those sorts of ideas. Still, when we were running out of time, we looked over things quickly trying to figure out what to dump ... and CHOP went the Hidden Palace. There's simply no way we could have thrown that in by the deadline at the rate we were going.[27]

The "Hidden Palace" level would be lost for over twenty years until it was included in the iOS remaster release in December 2013, which finally implemented the level into the game.[28] Sega provided some magazines, such as GamePro, with screenshots of early builds of the game that showed another level removed from the final game; a desert themed level, named "Dust Hill Zone".[29][30] Naka has also alluded to another, unidentified, scrapped level in the Sonic Jam Official Strategy Guide, explaining why the "Metropolis Zone" had three parts to it, while every other level only had two: "Due to problems with the story, Act 3 was going to be a different Zone that would only appear once, but since it was cut, we still wanted to have something after Act 2. So that's why there are three acts in this one. We had already finished the map, and it would have been a shame to waste it, so this is what we went with."[31]


Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2 Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Masato Nakamura
Released October 19, 2011 (Japan)
Recorded DCT Records
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length Total: 02:32:32
Disc One: 01:07:51
Disc Two: 01:05:15
Disc 3: 00:19:26

Sonic the Hedgehog 2's music was, like to that of its predecessor, composed by Masato Nakamura, a member of J-pop band Dreams Come True. The music development began early on in development with only concept images for Masato's reference but having a previous game meant he had experience in this type of music production already and taking a similar approach to the first game,[32] Masato treated Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as film and designed the music around the atmosphere that he felt from the images of the stages.[33] Except for the graphics and some discussion with Sonic Team, Masato was given freedom over the music creation which he believe was the reason why he was able to create "such melodic tunes and unusual rhythm patterns".[34]

Masato created the music while he was recording with Dreams Come True in London, working on their fourth album The Swinging Star. As a gift to Sonic Team, Masato produced an alternate version of the ending theme with Dreams Come True, which was included in the album they were recording at the time.[35] In 2011, the stage music from the Chemical Plant and Casino Night zones was remixed by Wave Master, Sega's in-house audio development department for use in Sonic Generations.[36]

Later in October of the same year, a three-disc compilation of music from Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released in Japan.[37] Alongside music from the game, the compilation includes comments by Yuji Naka and an interview with Nakamura.[38][39] The first disc contains original tracks from both games, and the second contains Masato Nakamura's demo recordings produced during the games' development.[40] The third disc contains "Sweet Sweet Sweet" by Dreams Come True,[37] its English-language version "Sweet Dream", and 2006 remixes of both songs by singer Akon which were used in Sonic the Hedgehog.[41] The game's ending theme song, "Sweet Dream" by Dreams Come True, was later remixed by Akon for the 2006 game Sonic the Hedgehog.[41][42][43]


Sega launched a $10 million advertising campaign for Sonic the Hedgehog 2's release.[2] It was first released in Japan on November 21, 1992.[44] The Genesis release in North America and the Mega Drive release in Europe both came on November 24, 1992, a Tuesday, and the release day was promoted as "Sonic 2s day". 400,000 copies of Sonic 2 were sold in the first seven days after release, and over 6 million in the life span of the console.[2]

Alternate versions and ports[edit]

8-bit version[edit]

A version of the game for the Sega Master System and Game Gear was developed by Aspect. Though based on the original game of the same name, it is a distinct game, with different level designs and a different plot,[45] and this version, unlike the 16-bit release, does not have the spindash, which led it to being thought to be made before the Sega Genesis version.[46]

Compilation releases[edit]

Compilations that include the game are Sonic Compilation (1995) for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis;[47] Sonic Jam (1997) for the Sega Saturn;[48] Sonic Mega Collection (2002) for the Nintendo GameCube;[49] Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2004) for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC;[50] Sega Genesis Collection (2006) for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable;[51] Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009) for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3;[52] and Sonic Classic Collection (2010) for the Nintendo DS.[53]

Download releases[edit]

The game was made available for download on Wii's Virtual Console on June 11, 2007,[54] PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on April 19, 2011,[55] and Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade, the latter having enhancements such as online leaderboards, achievements, and online play.[56] Various mobile phone versions exist as well, including the iOS release.[57] A remastering of the game, made using Christian Whitehead's "Retro Engine", was released for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices on December 12, 2013, featuring Knuckles as a playable character, a boss rush mode, online multiplayer, additional multiplayer stages, and the previously unreleased Hidden Palace Zone.[28]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 88.44% (8 reviews)[58]
Metacritic 82/100 (X360)[59]
60/100 (iOS)[60]
Defunct Games 93% (10 reviews)[61]
Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 94%[62]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 35/40[58]
Eurogamer 9/10 (X360)[58]
Famitsu 30/40[63]
Game Informer 9.5/10[64]
GamePro 5/5[61]
GameSpot 8/10 (X360)[65]
IGN 8.5/10 (Wii)[6]
Official Nintendo Magazine 94% (Wii)[66]
Official Xbox Magazine 9/10 (X360)[58]
Bad Influence! 5/5 stars[67]
Electronic Games 91%[68]
Mean Machines Sega 96%[69]
Mega 94%[70]
MegaTech 95%[71]
Mega Zone 96%[72]
Sega-16 10/10[58]
Sega Force 97%[73]
Sega Force Mega 95%[74]
Sega Pro 94%[75]
Svenska Hemdatornytt 100%[76]
Publication Award
Electronic Gaming Awards Video Game of the Year (Nominee)[77]
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Game of the Year (Genesis)[78]
Game Informer Best Action/Adventure Game[61]
MegaTech Hyper Game

Due to the popularity of its predecessor, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 already had an established fanbase anticipating its release.[6] The game received critical acclaim upon release and was a best seller in the UK charts for 2 months.[79] As of 2006, the game has sold over 6 million copies,[80] making it the second best-selling game for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (after the original Sonic the Hedgehog). The game has an aggregate score of 93% from Defunct Games, based on early 1990s reviews,[61] and 88.44% from GameRankings, mostly based on 2000s reviews,[58] notably higher than its predecessor.

The game received wide critical acclaim.[61] Reviewers praised the game for its large levels,[65] colorful graphics and backgrounds,[65][81] increased cast of characters, enemies,[6] and music.[65] Upon release, Ed Simrad of Electronic Gaming Monthly stated that the "twice as long" play time offers "more enjoyment for the buck" and that as "a 2 player game, there is twice the fun." He praised the "larger and harder" levels and "quite innovative" new moves, concluding that it is "the best all-around game on the market." GamePro stated that it is "tough to follow up a classic, but Sonic The Hedgehog 2 earns top honors." They stated that "the best thing about Sonic 2 is that it's just plain fun" and concluded that it gives "plenty of fabulous gaming to pass the time." Andy of Game Informer stated that it is "not as easy as the first and has more variation. The addition of the two-player split screen is great." Jaz of Mean Machines described it as "faster, slicker, more colourful, louder, bigger and much, much tougher than the original," concluding that it is "packed with features, has loads of secrets, and rounds it all up with a superlative two-player mode that'll have your friends queuing round the block to play. Brilliant!"[61]

The game has also been well received in retrospective reviews. GameSpot stated that "time may have eroded Sega's prominence, but it hasn't done much to diminish how sweet Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is," and, along with other reviewers, commented on how it is still a fun game to play.[6][65] Critics also enjoyed the faster gameplay the game offered in comparison to its predecessor, as well as its new features. Lucas Thomas of IGN praised the new "Spin-Dash" ability, which would prepare Sonic to launch at a faster speed.[82] Thomas also noted that the levels of Sonic 2 were designed to showcase the character's speed, and was less a "platform-jumping game" than a "platform-running" game, in slight contrast to its predecessor.[82]

The game's main criticisms concern the competitive, split-screen, two-player mode, a new introduction to the series.[83] The game allowed two-player mode in three different zones (Emerald Hill, Casino Night and Mystic Cave).[81] While the mode was generally well received upon release,[61] several reviewers have criticized the mode's noticeable slowdown, prominent flickering, and squashed play area for each player. However, Lucas Thomas praised the innovation of the new two player mode, quipping that "Mario and Luigi could never run competitively through the same levels, at the same time".[44] William Burrill of the Toronto Star described the two player racing mode as the "only part of the game that can be faulted," citing that the mode and its split screen view "squeezes the graphics, plumps up the characters and slows down the action."[84]

Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded it as the best Sega Genesis game of 1992, describing it as "the best Genesis cart to come along in a long time!"[78] Game Informer gave Sonic the Hedgehog 2 the Best Action/Adventure Game award, praising it for keeping "the same look and feel of the original Sonic, while adding a two-player mode, longer levels, new moves, and better animation. Wow!"[61] Electronic Games chose Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as one of the three nominees for their Video Game of the Year award, along with Street Fighter II and NHLPA Hockey '93.[77]

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been listed among the best games of all time. In 2000, Game Informer ranked Sonic 2 number 61 on its "Top 100 Games of All Time" list, calling it "the most challenging and finely polished Sonic the Hedgehog title."[85] They later ranked it the 97th best game of all time in 2009.[86] Mega placed the game at #36 in their "Top Sega Mega Drive Games of All Time" list in 1994.[87] It has also been listed among the best games of all time by Electronic Gaming Monthly (in 1997[88] and 2001[89]), GameFAQs (in 2004,[90] 2005,[91] 2009[92] and 2014[93]), GamingBolt,[94] Guinness World Records,[95] NowGamer,[96] Retro Gamer[97] and Yahoo![98]


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 '​s financial success was a major factor in Sega catching up to Nintendo in the early-1990s console wars.[99] It brought their market share up to 50% within six months of its release.[65] Tails, whom Sonic the Hedgehog 2 introduced, would go on to become one of the most prominent and frequently recurring characters in the series, appearing and acting as Sonic's sidekick in most of the franchise's media, including in recent games such as Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and Sonic Lost World in which most of the recurring cast does not appear or is relegated to minor roles. Tails starred alone in two games for the Sega Game Gear: Tails' Skypatrol and Tails Adventure.[100][101] Furthermore, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 '​s popularity managed extend its own cult following and spawn various merchandise such as comic books (the well-received fortnightly Sonic the Comic),[102] a television series,[103] and a sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which received similar acclaim.[104]

For Sonic's twentieth anniversary, Sega released Sonic Generations, a game that remade aspects of various past games from the franchise.[105] The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC versions contained a remade "Chemical Plant" level.[106] It also contained a remake of the final boss fight, the Death Egg Robot, as the Classic Era boss of the game.[107] Separately, the Nintendo 3DS version of the game contained a remake of the "Casino Night" level.[108] A "Casino Night" themed pinball minigame was made available for download as a pre-order bonus for the console versions at GameStop.[109]


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External links[edit]

Preceded by
European Club Soccer
UK number-one Mega Drive game
February–March 1993
Succeeded by
Ecco the Dolphin