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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic 2 US Cover.jpg
US cover art
Developer(s)Sega Technical Institute
Director(s)Masaharu Yoshii
Producer(s)Shinobu Toyoda
Composer(s)Masato Nakamura
SeriesSonic the Hedgehog
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Sonic the Hedgehog 2[a] is a 1992 platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis. It is the second main entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and introduced Sonic's sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower, controllable by a second player. In the story, Sonic and Tails must stop series antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space station, the Death Egg.

Development began in November 1991. It was developed by Japanese and American staff at Sega Technical Institute in California, and directed by Masaharu Yoshii and produced by Shinobu Toyoda. The game design was led by Hirokazu Yasuhara and music composed by Masato Nakamura. Art director Tim Skelly designed the appearance of the new 3D special stages based on a tech demo created by Yuji Naka. The staff increased the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in comparison to its predecessor.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sold over six million Genesis cartridges, making it the second best-selling Genesis game behind the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Cited as one of the greatest video games of all time, it received acclaim for its level design, visuals and music. It has been rereleased on various platforms; a remastered version developed using the Retro Engine released on iOS and Android in December 2013. Two sequels, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, were released in 1994.


Sonic and Tails hopping across pillars in the third stage, Aquatic Ruin Zone

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a 2D side-scrolling platform game.[1] The game stars Sonic the Hedgehog and his sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower, who is described as having idolized Sonic as a child and wanting to keep up with him.[2] At the game's start, the player can select to either play as Sonic, Tails, or both. The difference between the two is purely cosmetic; the two both have identical abilities.[3] In the dual mode, players control Sonic while Tails runs along beside him. A second player can join in at any time and control Tails separately.[4] 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. Certain levels have features that are unique to them; for example, Emerald Hill has corkscrew-like loops, and Chemical Plant has boost pads that instantly put Sonic at his top speed.[2] 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.[5] When the player is attacked by an enemy without rings, is crushed, falls off-screen, drowns, or exceeds the act's ten-minute limit, they lose a life and return to the start of the act or from the most recently passed checkpoint.[6] Dying with zero lives gives the player a game over.[7]

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".[8] 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, with their ring-count reset to zero.[9] When all Emeralds have been collected, Sonic can transform into Super Sonic by collecting 50 rings and jumping.[10][8] Super Sonic is invincible to attacks, runs faster, and jumps further; however, he loses one ring per second and reverts to regular Sonic when his rings are depleted.[10]

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 the 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.[11]

Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2[edit]

Sonic & Knuckles was released in 1994, two years after Sonic 2. The Sonic & Knuckles game cartridge features a special "lock-on" port into which the player can insert other Genesis cartridges. Attaching Sonic 2 unlocks Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a variation of Sonic 2 whereby the player plays as Knuckles the Echidna, a character introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and not playable until Sonic & Knuckles.[12] Though the game is largely identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Knuckles is able to glide and climb walls, allowing him access to areas previously inaccessible to Sonic or Tails. However, he cannot jump as high, making some parts of the game, such as certain boss fights, more difficult. In addition, Knuckles restarts with the amount of rings he collected at checkpoints (if he loses a life), the options are unavailable, the special stages have slightly fewer rings required to collect than before (for example, ten rings fewer than in the special stages with Sonic and Tails), and the two-player mode is removed. In the 2013 remastered version, Knuckles is playable from the start without anything being removed and when all 7 Chaos Emeralds are collected, he turns into his own super form 'Super Knuckles'.[12]


The game's premise is similar to that of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic's nemesis, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, is planning world domination through the power of the Chaos Emeralds and an army of robots. Specific to this game, he is additionally constructing an armored space station known as the Death Egg (an homage to the Death Star), also for the means of world domination.[13]

The events of the game see Sonic and Tails chasing Robotnik through West Side Island, and eventually up to the Death Egg, pursuing him with Tails' biplane, the Tornado. The plane is damaged after being shot at, but Sonic still manages to infiltrate the Death Egg, alone. Once there, he battles a robotic imposter before taking on Robotnik, who is piloting a giant mech. Sonic manages to defeat the robot and it explodes, damaging the Death Egg and knocking it out of orbit. Sonic comes down falling and is saved by Tails in the Tornado. If the player has collected all of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic, in his Super Sonic form, flies alongside it.[10]


Following the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, creator Yuji Naka quit Sega due to disagreements over corporate policy.[14][15] Mark Cerny, who had recently founded Sega Technical Institute (STI) in California, met with Naka in Japan and offered him a higher salary and more creative freedom if he joined STI.[14][15] Naka agreed, and Hirokazu Yasuhara, the lead level designer of Sonic the Hedgehog, also decided to move to STI.[14][15] Yasuhara had been 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 he joined Sonic Team and became part of the original Sonic project.[16][17]

Development of Sonic 2 began in November 1991, two months later than Cerny had intended, as Sega of America initially felt it was too soon for a sequel.[14] STI handled development;[14][18][19] both American and Japanese staff contributed, although, according to team member Tim Skelly, "Everyone attached to Sonic 2 ultimately worked for Yuji Naka. I think Naka would have been much happier if he was working with an all-Japanese team, but just because of the language barrier and some cultural differences."[14]

Skelly designed the appearance of the pseudo-3D special stages, based on a tech demo created by Naka.[20] The special stages were created out of pre-rendered 3D polygons, video of which was compressed and halved vertically and horizontally to fit in the game cartridge.[21] Sonic 2 also introduced Sonic's sidekick Tails, a flying two-tailed fox, inspired by Japanese folklore about the kitsune and created by level artist Yasushi Yamaguchi. Sega of America objected to the character's name, Miles Prower (a pun on "miles per hour"), so he was given the nickname Tails as a compromise.[22] Masaharu Yoshii served as director. The staff increased the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 compared to the first game.[23]


Like the original Sonic, the music was composed by Masato Nakamura, bassist and songwriter of the J-pop band Dreams Come True. Nakamura began composing early in development with only concept images for reference, taking a similar approach to his method for Sonic 1.[24] Nakamura treated Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as a film and designed the music around the atmosphere that he felt from the images of the stages.[25] Except for the graphics and some discussion with Sonic Team, Nakamura was given freedom, which he believes was the reason why he was able to create "such melodic tunes and unusual rhythm patterns".[26] Nakamura created the music while he was recording with Dreams Come True in London, working on their fifth album The Swinging Star. As a gift to Sonic Team, Masato produced an alternate version of the ending theme, "Sweet Sweet Sweet", with Dreams Come True, included on The Swinging Star.[27]

In 2011, the stage music from Chemical Plant and Casino Night Zone were remixed by Sega for use in Sonic Generations.[28] That October, a three-disc compilation of the music from Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released in Japan.[29] It compilation includes comments by Naka and an interview with Nakamura.[30][31] The first disc contains original tracks from both games, and the second contains Nakamura's demo recordings produced during the games' development.[32] The third disc contains "Sweet Sweet Sweet" by Dreams Come True,[29] its English-language version "Sweet Dream", and 2006 remixes of both songs by singer Akon, used in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).[33][33][34][35]

Cut content[edit]

Sonic 2 was planned to feature time travel;[36] this concept became the basis of a separate game, Sonic CD.[37] Early in 1992, a prototype Sonic 2 cartridge was stolen at a New York City toy show; the theft was attributed to a lack of security. In 1999, the data from this prototype was rediscovered by a fan on a Chinese website,[38] with playable sections of two cut levels: Wood Zone and Hidden Palace Zone.[39][40][41] It also contains an unused level slot, "Genocide City".[38]

Hidden Palace Zone was planned as a secret stage accessed by collecting Chaos Emeralds. According to Naka, the stage would explain where the Chaos Emeralds came from and grant Sonic his Super Sonic powers.[42] It was removed for lack of time and cartridge space, and a different version was used in Sonic & Knuckles. The 2013 remastered iOS port includes a redesigned Hidden Palace Zone as an optional stage.[43] During development, Sega released mockup images of a cut desert-themed level,[44][45] The third act of Metropolis Zone uses a layout originally designed for an unused stage.[46]


Sega launched a $10 million advertising campaign for Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[47] Sega sought a global release date to make the game available in all stores on the same day, a novel concept at the time. This required Sega to reconfigure its distribution system to ensure that games were available in all major stores. The release date in North America and Europe, Tuesday, November 24, 1992, was marketed as "Sonic 2s day". In Japan, it was released on November 21, 1992.[48][49]

8-bit version[edit]

A separate version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was developed by Aspect and released for the 8-bit Master System and Game Gear systems. It has different level designs and a different plot, in which Tails is kidnapped and Sonic must rescue him. [50]

2013 remaster[edit]

A remastered mobile port was released for iOS, Android and Windows Phone on December 12, 2013. It was developed from scratch by Christian "Taxman" Whitehead and Simon "Stealth" Thomley of Headcannon using the Retro Engine, previously used in the 2011 Sonic CD remaster. This version adds enhancements such as widescreen graphics, Knuckles as a playable character, time and boss attack modes, online multiplayer, additional multiplayer stages, Tails's flying and swimming abilities from Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the previously unreleased Hidden Palace Zone,[43] and a post-credits scene which depicts the Death Egg crash-landing on Angel Island.[51] Shaun Musgrave of TouchArcade declared it the "definitive version" of the game.[52] The iOS version was updated in 2016, adding compatibility for Apple TV.[53]


The game has been rereleased on compilations including Sonic Compilation (1995) for Genesis;[54] Sonic Jam (1997) for Sega Saturn;[55] Sonic Mega Collection (2002) for Nintendo GameCube;[56] Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2004) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC;[57] Sega Genesis Collection (2006) for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable;[58] Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009) for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3;[59] and Sonic Classic Collection (2010) for Nintendo DS.[60]

Digital ports[edit]

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was made available for download on Wii's Virtual Console on June 11, 2007,[61] PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on April 19, 2011,[62] and Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade, the latter having enhancements such as online leaderboards, achievements, and online play.[63] Various mobile phone versions exist as well, including the iOS release.[64] The game was released as part of the Nintendo 3DS 3D Classics line in Japan on July 22, 2015, with a release in North America and Europe initially slated for September 2015, before being pushed back to October 8. This version of the game is enhanced using the stereoscopic 3D technology of the 3DS.[65][66] In 2018, Sega announced a Nintendo Switch port would be released as part of the Sega Ages product line. It includes most of the features added to the 3DS version, and added the option to use Sonic's Drop Dash ability from Sonic Mania and a time attack mode, plus the lock-on game Knuckles in Sonic 2.[67]


Aggregate scores
GameRankingsGenesis: 88%[68]
MetacriticX360: 82/100[69]
iOS: 60/100[70]
3DS: 87/100[71]
NS: 83/100[72]
Review scores
EurogamerX360: 9/10[75]
Game Informer27.25/30[78]
GameSpotX360: 8/10[80]
WII: 7.5/10[81]
IGNWii: 8.5/10[1]
X360: 7.9/10[82]
ONMWii: 94%[83]
OXM (US)X360: 9/10[68]
TouchArcadeiOS: 3/5 stars[84]
iOS (remastered): 5/5 stars[52]

Following the success of the original, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was widely anticipated.[1][85] It achieved critical acclaim, accumulating an aggregate score of 88% on GameRankings based on eight reviews.[68]

The improvements to the gameplay were praised. GamePro commented that "Sonic 2's game play mechanics are the same as Sonic 1's with a few cool exceptions." They gave it a 4.5 out of 5 for sound and a perfect 5.0 in every other category (graphics, control, and fun factor).[86] Lucas Thomas of IGN proclaimed that the game "offered more of everything. More characters, more levels. More music, moves and baddies to beat", and that the new spin dash move "enhanced the speed of the gameplay, as Sonic no longer had to have a long stretch of straightaway to get up to his signature blazing velocity any more."[1] Ellie Gibson of Eurogamer, reviewing the Xbox Live Arcade port, wrote that "SEGA has been sensible enough to leave things alone. All the original levels are present and correct. They are as expansive and exciting as ever. The sheer speed of the game still has the power to thrill as you send Sonic zooming, spinning and bouncing in all directions."[75]

Frank Provo of GameSpot wrote "Play through it and you'll understand why it helped sell a ton of Genesis consoles back in the day. It's a fun platformer and does everything a sequel is supposed to do. It resolves many of the first game's shortcomings and incorporates a slew of minor upgrades that cumulatively amount to a fresh experience."[81] Justin Towell of GamesRadar+ called the sequel "an improvement in every respect", citing the "improved Special Stage with pseudo-3D shenanigans, a greater emphasis on speed, better graphics, [and] another incredible soundtrack" as examples.[87] Tom East of Official Nintendo Magazine called the game "arguably the best game in the series and easily one of the best platform games ever".[83]

The main objects of criticism were the two-player mode and the addition of Tails; reviewers disliked the image distortion brought about by the squeezed and flickering graphics,[1][87][86] and Tails was considered to be "useless" and "irritating" due to his interference in boss battles.[75][87] By contrast, GamePro described Tails as "about the cutest companion that any Sonic fan could ask for" and said the game's biggest problem is that it is too easy, to the point where even unskilled players would quickly breeze through it. However, the reviewer noted that finding each stage's secrets provides the game with challenge and longevity.[86]

Critics praised the level design and graphics. GamePro assessed that the "graphics are actually better than the original's. The rich variety of scenery, slightly larger sprites, and extra-added attitude help the spunky hedgehog paint video game magic."[86] Gibson called the variation in the game's environments "impressive",[75] and Andy Eddy of TeamXbox described the graphics as "bright" and "colorful".[88] Despite the reduction in the number of acts per level to two from the first game's three, the levels themselves were said to be larger and more memorable.[86][81][82] Provo pointed out that "Sega concocted new backgrounds in the same colorful style as those from the first game, then jazzed them up with animated highlights such as dancing flowers and shimmering lakes."[81] However, the later stages were considered to be difficult and complex.[82][88] Towell also noted that "When Sonic is hurtling around the screen, [the game] could be criticized for 'playing itself'".[87]

Opinions on the special stages were divided. Gibson described the visuals of these stages as "dreadfully blocky",[75] and David Craddock of IGN felt that the inclusion of Tails in the stages was "detrimental at best, since he's always colliding with bombs, thus causing the player to lose valuable rings."[82] However, those who spoke positively of the special stages approved of the visual effects.[86][89][87] GamePro elaborated, "Theoretically, the Genesis isn't capable of scaling, but Sonic's Bonus Rounds are gonna make you wonder!"[86]

Rereleases also saw positive reviews.[69] Thomas wrote that the Virtual Console version was "an easy thumbs-up".[1] Gibson praised the Xbox Live Arcade version's low price and online mode: "Just GBP 4.25 will buy you hours of fun. Not millions of hours, because games were shorter in those days."[75] Craddock proclaimed that "Sonic the Hedgehog 2 holds up as not only one of the best games available on Sega's memorable 16-bit machine, but also a worthy addition to any XBLA library."[82] The iOS version was met with middling reviews,[70] with criticism for the quality of the port and lack of multiplayer.[64][90]

Electronic Gaming Monthly named it the best Genesis game of 1992,[91] and number 71 on their 1997 list of the best console video games of all time. While they said that Sonic CD (ranked at number 17) was unquestionably better, they defended the multiplayer mode, contending that "Although it looks a little squashed, the vs. races are a lot of fun."[85] Mega placed the game at #36 in their "Top Sega Mega Drive Games of All Time" list.[92] 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."[93] In 2010, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 took first place in the results of a survey conducted by Official Nintendo Magazine to determine the fan-favorite game in the series.[94] In 2011, GameZone named Sonic the Hedgehog 2 the second-best title in the series (behind Sonic the Hedgehog 3).[95] In 2017, GamesRadar+ named Sonic the Hedgehog 2 the best Sonic title of all time and the second-best Genesis title of all time.[96][97]


400,000 copies of Sonic 2 were sold in the first week of release[47] and over 6 million in the Genesis lifespan,[98] only 180,000 of which were in Japan.[99] As of 2006, it had sold over 6 million cartridges for the Sega Genesis,[98] making it the second best-selling Sega Genesis game (after the original Sonic the Hedgehog). The game was a best-seller in the UK charts for 2 months.[100] The Xbox Live Arcade digital version later sold 509,805 units on the Xbox 360, as of 2011.[101] The Android mobile game version sold more than 100,000 paid downloads on the Google Play Store as of 2017,[102] while the free-to-play Android version Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Classic has received more than 10 million downloads as of 2019.[103]


Sonic 2's success was a major factor in Sega catching up to Nintendo in the early-1990s console wars.[104] It brought their market share up to 40% within six months of its release.[105] Tails, whom Sonic the Hedgehog 2 introduced, went on to become one of the most prominent characters in the series, appearing as Sonic's sidekick in most Sonic media, including in later games such as Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and Sonic Lost World. Sonic the Hedgehog 2's popularity extended to various merchandise such as comic books such as Sonic the Comic,[106] a television series,[107] and a sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which received similar acclaim.[108]

For Sonic's 20th anniversary, Sega released Sonic Generations, which remade aspects of various past games from the franchise.[109] The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC versions contained a remade "Chemical Plant" level.[110] It also contained a remake of the final boss fight, the Death Egg Robot, as the Classic Era boss of the game.[111] Separately, the Nintendo 3DS version of the game contained a remake of the "Casino Night" level.[112] A "Casino Night" themed pinball minigame was made available for download as a pre-order bonus for the console versions at GameStop.[113] Remade versions of Chemical Plant and Oil Ocean also appear in the 2017 game Sonic Mania.[114]

In 2008, an unofficial, high-definition remake was announced titled Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD, which included development members who would later work on Sonic Mania.[115][116] In 2012, it was reported that a potential keylogger was included with an alpha build of the game, which led to the project being discontinued due to the controversy.[117] In 2014, the project was restarted under a new development team.[118] The final version is planned to feature additional stages and the option to play levels as Knuckles the Echidna.[119] Actor Ben Schwartz, who voiced Sonic in the 2020 film adaptation, said that Sonic 2 is his favorite video game from the franchise.[120]


  1. ^ Japanese: ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ2 (ツー) Hepburn: Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Tsū


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