Sonic 2

Game Gear

Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

This entry in the Sonic series is very well-done for the Game Gear. Instead of just doing a chopped-up port of the Genesis version, this is an all-new game. Give Sega a hand for doing that. Unlike the Genesis version of this same game, your buddy 'Tails' is not a playable character. On the Game Gear, you are rescuing him from Dr. Robotnik in this edition.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (JUE)-01.gif (4864 bytes)The graphics look great, considering this is an 8-bit portable machine. If you saw this on a full tv and took a quick glance at it, you could mistake this for one of the earlier 16-bit Sonic entries. The characters are large and easy to identify, unlike some Game Gear games. The levels and backgrounds also look good and are nicely detailed.

The title screen does look quite beautiful. I considered giving this a 10 in the graphics department (a 10 in consideration of the Game Gear hardware, I know this is no match graphically for PS2, heh). However, I held off on the 10 because there were at least two similar and later sequels to this one, (Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble) which probably look even better than this game.

I have never played the later carts so I will hold off on that 10 for this one. I will say, though, out of the 20-something Game Gear games I have played, this is the best looking one by far, truly a work of art. This is also the first Game Gear game I owned, although I know none of you care. Back to the review...

The music and sound effects are above average but no match for the Genesis sounds. Nothing shabby here, but these tunes certainly won't stick in your head, like the Casino Night tune in the Genesis game does, for instance. The music for the boss levels (Act 3 of each Zone) are half-decent, though. Game Gear music never seems to be up to snuff. I notice that the speakers seem to be pretty weak, maybe some headphones might make the GG games sound better.

Nonetheless, this is the best Game Gear music I have ever heard, hence the seven rating.

Bells and whistles include a hidden level select (look it up yourself, it's easy to find online). During the course of this game, Sonic rides in a mine cart, flies a hang glider, rides in a bubble and spins on a flywheel. The game play moves quite fast, again not on the level of the Genesis games, but you will still be able to get that Sonic feel. There are seven zones each with three acts. The third act, as mentioned before, is a "boss encounter." You don't have to attack the bosses in every encounter, battling the first boss, for example, you just have to avoid falling rocks which hit the boss character.

The boss encounters are quite tough (especially Robotnik) as you have to fight them without the benefit of rings (which means you die if hit just once) and some of these bosses would be a challenge anyway, even if you did have rings. You will not find any rings in the third Act of each Zone. As always, you must collect all of the Chaos Emeralds (six are needed here to rescue Tails) to get the true ending. In this game, the Chaos Emeralds also double as continues for after you have lost all your lives.

Moving on to the game play, this is the only gripe I had with the cart and it is a small one. Sonic controls just as smooth as he does on the Genesis. Have no fear. It still can be a pain to control him while he is jumping and curled into a ball but it's always been that way. Sonic still has his speed, as mentioned before. My problem is just with the screen size of the Game Gear. This would be much better on a full-size television.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (JUE)-02.gif (4123 bytes)Since the Game Gear's screen is so small and Sonic is a large sprite, you don't always know what is immediately ahead of you on the screen when you are running full-speed ahead (a bed of spikes, pit, deadly enemy!?). You also can't tell what is immediately above and below you when jumping. Of course, if you play each level/act a couple of times this really isn't a factor anymore.

It is just easier to get the full picture, obviously, playing the Sonic series on the Genesis, you can see more of what's on the screen. One other small problem is that the levels are big, comparable to the size of some Genesis levels/acts. The small screen size and limited viewing area makes it tough to tell where you are sometimes, where you are going and where you have been in the zones. In some cases, no matter what part of the level/act you are in, it all seems to look the same. It is quite easy to get lost in some of these levels/acts, much more so than the Genesis games. Again, this is a very small criticism and nothing that should be held against the game, hence the 9 rating.

Overall, this is the best Game Gear cart I have played. In case you are interested in it, as most of you who are reading this probably know, the Game Gear has been reissued by Majesco and is being sold in some stores. Along with the Game Gear, there are also a small number of carts available in these same stores for $19.99. Sonic 2 is one of those games and happens to be a very safe purchase.

Sonic would be proud of this game. I can't sing the praises of this game enough. Sega put a lot of effort into this game and it shows. They could have just 'phoned in' a half-baked original game or a scaled-down version of the 16-bit game but they didn't. If you are a Sonic fan, this full-scale game will not let you down, there's a lot to explore and you will have a good time doing it.

If you've never tried a Sonic game (is there anyone?), what you will find is a fast-paced side scrolling portable action/platform/adventure game that can be considered an evolution of the Super Mario series (circa NES/Gameboy editions). Sonic's second adventure for the Game Gear is not as good as his games on the Genesis but it is pretty damn close.


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Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2005 02:32 PM