Sonic 2 is one of those rare games that come around once in a generation and define it. Sometimes twice in a generation, if it’s in the mood. Point is, games like this are rare.
I love Sonic games, but have absolutely no inherent skill when it comes time to play them. Buttons are mashed, lives are lost, and profanities are hurled haphazardly at the screen as though to throw down the gauntlet and challenge the gaming gods’ judgment. It takes a special kind of magic to turn an otherwise sane person such as myself into a feral animal, brimming with rage and sadness. This is that magic.
Where does the magic lie, though? Level design? I don’t even like half of the levels, or “zones,” as the game officially designates them. Chemical Plant Zone and Casino Night Zone are two of my favorites in the entire series, but Aquatic Ruin Zone is so frustrating and irritatingly-designed that it’s a wonder I haven’t broken more windows in my lifetime. Oil Ocean Zone gives me a headache. Metropolis Zone forces you to move so carefully that the game completely loses its charm until you’re past it. No, it’s something else.
Randomness, maybe? It was unique in how quickly things could completely change: One moment you would be running at normal speed, and then you’d hit something and bounce the other direction into a slot machine that randomly decides whether to give you coins or take coins away. The whole thing is incredible. On the other hand, some of the later levels completely negate your ability to move quickly and stumble on to that kind of randomness by having tricky jumps to make. Though many of the later levels suck and slowly drained the life out of me while I was growing up, the very last ones still have that magic despite the lack of randomness.
Colors could play a role, as almost all of the levels I like are colorful. On the other hand, so is Hill Top Zone, and I want to set that entire landscape on fire while methodically poisoning whatever it is those fireball-spewing robot dinosaur bastards drink. Do robots drink? Probably. I mean, they need something as fuel in order to keep robot-ing it up. Probably oil or something. That certainly explains Oil Ocean Zone.
So yeah, you know the gameplay. Everyone does. In case you’ve woken up on the set of a horrible soap opera with a raging case of amnesia, however, here’s a brief explanation: You run around, spin to destroy enemies (which then frees the little forest critters that have been forced to be robots… or something), and try not to hit any spikes or enemes while you’re not curled up in a ball. You know, because you’re a hedgehog and spiky, but the rest of you is a pansy. Fun fact: Hedgehogs are also vulnerable to flamethrowers. Don’t ask how I know that.
Long story short, this game is a must-play. A classic. The only people who could possible hate this game are the soulless, and even most of them would like it. It gets into your mind, man. Soon you’re stomping on the top of containers to free animals and the people in the store are like, “Why are you jumping up and down on that carton of ice cream?” and you’re all, “I’m trying to free the penguins, bro,” and it all goes downhill from there. It’s worth it, though. This game is so good, even if parts of it make you want to rip your hair out and light it on fire.
Here’s what you should do: