What hasn’t already been said about Sonic The Hedgehog 2 in the many years following its release? Considered one of the best games in the Blue Blur’s long career, it hasn’t spent long without being easy to come by in one way or the other. Whether you’ve played it on Virtual Console or one of Sega’s numerous compilation discs released over the years, it’s a sure bet that you have seen this game before if you missed it during its original run on Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.
Sonic 2 is a god damn classic, so it’s for good reason that Sega would want it to be around forever. For as many terrible games that their mascot had to endure in the decades following his 16-bit glory days, Nintendo’s biggest competitor had always the opportunity to dive back and show just how great of a threat it was back in the day with this particular game. It’s the epitome of what a Sonic game should play and feel, and it’s no surprise it’s still perfectly playable. It doesn’t mess around trying to turn Sonic into something he’s not. It’s a pure speed platformer that encompasses the message that Sega wanted to drive home with their mascot: he’s everything Mario wasn’t at the time. And to that regard, they nailed it.
Sega Ages has just included Sonic The Hedgehog 2 to its library this week along with Puyo Puyo 2, giving it the same treatment that previous releases have gotten. While these don’t feel as significant as before given that Sonic 2’s been re-release to death in every shape and format in the past, I’m willing to throw Sega a bone here and admit that I enjoyed playing a more lax game of Sonic 2 by not having to worry as much about losing rings in the new Ring Keeper mode. That and being able to play as Knuckles without having to build an altar of carts on top of one another like in the distant Genesis past. He can glide around levels, you know.
Having all these modes along with the usual Time Trial and competitive two player split screen is pretty neat too, but looking forward to the things that came after Sonic 2 proved to be a smart step for Sega this time around, as they’ve now included the drop dash move that was introduced in the surprisingly amazing Sonic Mania. It basically allows you to land from a jump straight into a full speed dash which feels really good in this game! As with things that are completely optional and not meant to be used if you don’t want to, if you’re a Sonic 2 purist, you can stick to the usual duo and not mess around with any of that. For me, it was fun to spice it up and have an added gameplay layer within the familiar confines of a game I’ve been playing off and on for years.
Like the usual Sega Ages release, this download of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 also includes online leaderboards and a host of options to pick and mess around with in the menus, including the chance of playing the Japanese version of the game, along with the now standard visual flair in the form of filters and screen ratio. For a modest price of admission, you get a really decent package that goes a bit out of its way to include more features, which is saying a lot in this age of barebone re-releases and compilations. Sega has been doing a fantastic job keeping their collection going, and I’ll definitely excuse them for taking this long to include the gem that is Sonic 2.