It's a big anniversary year for various Nintendo franchises, but it's easy to forget that it's also a whopper for SEGA's mascot, with June bringing the 30th Anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. We'll have various articles celebrating that milestone, but a little ahead of time I thought I'd share a fun memory I have with the franchise; I suspect many have had similar experiences.
A decent number of years back — 8 or 10 years, my memory is failing me on the specific time — I was at my parent's house for the Holidays, and for reasons I can't remember I had dug out the old Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis, for you NA folk) and began perusing our collection of cartridges from back in the day. The urge hit me and realising my childhood bedroom still — at that point — had an old CRT TV with the relevant inputs, I plugged the system in and picked a game.
There was only one choice: my absolute favourite from that era, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. When that game originally came out I was eight years old, and I played it over, and over, and over again. Though the system had lots of games I loved, not to mention the other glorious 16-bit Sonic titles, Sonic 2 was the top one in my world. And so, around 15-20 years later, I was sitting on the edge of a bed in my old room playing it once again.
My initial thought was "I'll play the first few levels and then head down to spend time with the family"; that didn't happen. Once the music kicked in and I was dashing through stages and summoning memories to find secret areas, there was no going back. Early on I was doing well, hoovering up Chaos Emeralds and barely getting hit. "Ok," I thought, "you still have it".
Ah, but Sonic 2 ramps up, and once you get caught in a tricky section with no rings it's easy to lose a lot of hard-earned lives rather quickly. I gradually progressed from lounging comfortably to perching on the edge of the bed and eventually, I kid you not, sitting on the floor cross-legged to be closer to the TV.
Wing Fortress is, frankly, an annoying zone - I didn't like it in 1992, and I don't like it now. Great music, though.
Of course, this is a ludicrous scene — a grown man behaving like an 8-year-old — but I didn't really care. I was having a huge amount of fun while, at the same time, I was feeling The Fear. Well over an hour into the depths of the game and my lives were draining away; the Continues would be next. This was no time for 'grown up' dignity. No, it was time to actually focus.
Oil Ocean Zone was responsible for the first glut of lost lives, which was a tad irritating as I'm pretty sure I could do that level in my sleep as a kid. In that final quarter of the game there are some real points of doom, and by the time I reached Wing Fortress Zone my nerves were starting to shred. It is, frankly, an annoying zone - I didn't like it in 1992, and I don't like it now. Great music, though.
I got to Death Egg Zone with about 6 lives, if you count continues, and it really hit the fan. Mecha Sonic wasn't too bad but I lost a few lives, then it was the final boss. When you're low on Sonics and out of continues this encounter is extremely tense, and I struggled. In fact, I went down to my last life.
At this point I paused, realised I'd been sat playing for, I think, over 2 hours, and I was going to die one encounter from the credits. One more try.
Well, dear readers, I did it. I actually beat the game on my final life, at which point I leapt up and punched the air. Ridiculous behaviour for a grown man, perhaps, but I was genuinely elated. This little episode made me realise that my gaming reflexes had clearly deteriorated from my peak as an 8-year-old, and I briefly lamented a few missed Chaos Emeralds. And then I just sighed and smiled — what a wonderful journey down Memory Lane.
When I went downstairs with a giddy air my parents asked what I'd been up to. I told them, and there was a knowing smile from both of them. In 20+ years not much had changed. I was still their 'little boy', like all kids are to their parents, and I was still a Sonic 2 fan that couldn't resist one more run.
Nice little article.
That just goes to show that the good ones never get old.
In terms of Sonic games, I could pop in Sonic 3 in the ol Genesis (Megadrive) and get the same enjoyment every single time.
I love this. Thank you so much for sharing it! Now I’m gonna spend this rainy day re-playing Sonic 2.
Thanks for sharing this, it was quite the enjoyable read, definitely brought a smile to my face.
Enjoyed the article. Sonic 2 remains my favorite as well, though I do love all of the Genesis ones. Those chaos emeralds are definitely tough to get the last 2-3 collected. Thanks!
Oil ocean and the metropolis zones are my least favourite. Due to difficulty and soundtrack. All the other zones are much stronger so there’s a lot to enjoy.
I personally enjoy 1 the best of the trilogy because it has a more even balance between fast and slow sections - but all 3 games are absolute classics and some of the finest 2D platformers ever made.
Sonic 2 still remains my favourite game of all time, even after playing over 1000 games in my lifetime. Every single time I come back to it, it hasnt aged in the least, and it makes for a perfectly comfortable playthrough in a short amount of time.
Just as a tip for the end, as metal sonic comes down, start revving in a spin dash and you'll hit him about 6 times before you can dash out of the way before he goes into a spin dash. With robotnik, just stay away from him, wait for him to fly in the air. When he's about to land, move to the side a bit to dodge him, and when he bends his knees on impact, jump and hit him ONCE, then run to the opposite side of the screen and wait for him to take off again. With this slower war of attrition, you can easily beat him in 4 to 5 minutes with no risk of taking damage.
@gb_nes_gamer Metropolis has to be one of my favourite Zones in Sonic 2. And I really love the music. Oil Ocean I can agree on.
When I played it originally at launch on Sonic 2uesday, after a long slog managed to get all Chaos Emerald and unlock Super Sonic after collecting 50 rings,.
Playing it again over the years on Wii VC, 3DS ages, Megadrive Mini, still love this game. Can I get all the Chaos Emeralds now ? Can I F***,
My gaming skills has most definitely taken a dive over the years
I experienced it too just today. I was going for the 6 Emerald Chaos in Sonic 1 and I seem to be unable to get them as fast as when I was a teenager. Last time I beat Sonic I didn't even get them all. I keep screwing bonus stages up. I just don't have it anymore.
@Gerald Same boat mate. I can easily pick up Sonic 2 and play it to completion as though it was yesterday. However, back in the day when I got proper gud, I would ensure that I had collected every Chaos Emerald before completing Emerald Hill Zone. Doing it now though, I just give up with the idea and complete the game without them. To be honest, I now find Sonic's special stages too tedious to bother with.
Nice one beating Robotnik on your final life. I find him a bit glitchy sometimes, I burned through about 7 lives recently because I was being greedy trying to hit Robotnik multiple times and Sonic would occasionally go straight through him instead of bouncing off him so Sonic would then die from the contact.
My only criticism of the old 2D Sonic games is the lack of a save facility. To play for over 2 hours and then have to start from scratch is pretty poor, at least by today’s standards. Back then I think Mario World was the only platformer with a battery backup so Sonic wasn’t so unusual.
Really nice little read. Reminds me of a simpler time when I lived out of state and would do the same thing while back home visiting my parents. At some point, everyone would be asleep or occupied, and I’d hook up the Genesis and have another run at Robotnik or Mr. X. The Fear is why I still play today. It’s never gone away. It still feels just as good today to triumph over doubt as it did when I was a kid.
It is good that your inner child never dies, why should anyone kill him? You only have one life 😉.
I like Sonic 2 quite a bit but it can’t hold a candle to 3 for me. 3 is just… ugh it has everything.
Well because of you now I’m going to have to play some 2 later if I’m able to set my adult chores aside and put some time in. The days of mom and dad cooking while I play games are over.. now I’m the one cooking 😩
Great article! Made me smile
@ChromaticDracula I agree and, besides, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Windows) was the first Sonic game I owned.
Sonic 2 is the greatest 16 but platformer ever made. I fought that island at school in 1992 and I will fight it until I die. All the levels are memorable.
I've gotten to the final boss several times in this game as a kid but I never quite managed to beat Robotnik
@Jamie64326 cool. Specifically, it’s the green blade throwing enemies and the red crabs with the extending spike arms. To me it seems like some unfair placements which make the attacks difficult to avoid.
Not so bad, but my least favourite.
One of favourite games from the 16-bit era. Eagerly awaiting the origin release next year for the other games.
Loved that thanks Thomas 😊
Great article, even makes me a little nostalgic as I too grew up loving Sonic 2 on the Genesis. Good times.
Sonic 2 is still the best Sonic game ever (although Mania is similarly excellent). IMO, the greatest Genesis games were
Contra Hard Corps
NBA Jam T.E.
And believe me, I've played just about every Genesis game known to man, so my opinion must be fact 😄
@sketchturner Great list, but what about Castlevania: Bloodlines?
This was a great article, thanks for sharing! This definitely put a smile on my face. I have so many good memories playing Sonic 2 with my brother and our friends. I remember passing the controller back and forth, and when we finally beat it, you could hear the cheering down the street.
I loved Sonic 2(and the whole series on the Genesis) back in the day, and still loved them the last time I played them. My reflexes and skills are better now than back when I was a kid, though my patience for memorizing is less. I never liked the Sonic 2 bonus stages, so I don't bother with emeralds. I play Sonic games with a deep focus on just getting to the end of the stages and not worry about what I'm missing, so I don't recall disliking the stages you did to the same degree. Cool that you beat the game on the last life. That kind of pressure can be too much when you really want to finish what you started.
@Guitar_bard Bloodlines never clicked for me and I just didn't find it all that fun. I much prefer Rondo of Blood, Super Castlevania, and Adventure Rebirth.
The special stages in Sonic 3 are significantly better than Sonic 2, but both are great games. This article may have convinced me to replay 2. Maybe after one more civ revolution match.... If I can finish it and still have some time left.
@sketchturner Fair enough. Of the pre-DS 'Vanias, Super Castlevania is easily my favorite. Any list that includes Comix Zone is a good one.
I had an experience like this last year, but with Donkey Kong Country 2.
The only difference with your story is that I'm much better at it now, in my 30s, than I was when I was a kid. But that's mostly down to playing Dark Souls in my 20s and leveling-up my Patience and Resolve stats across all genres.
@gb_nes_gamer I'm also eagerly waiting for Origins, but that's because SEGA have brought back Sonic 3. It's been a long while since we've had that game re-released.
Sonic 2 was the pack in game with my Mega Drive. I remember Sonic 2sday well, but that was before I had the MD so preordered the Game Gear version from Boots (!) instead. Nowhere near as good as the original 8 bit sonic unfortunately (which is still my favourite one overall).
All 4 16 bit Sonics are excellent. I have about equal nostalgia for them all: playing Sonic 1 at my friend’s house (he eventually gave me the cart), Sonic 2 with my MD for my 11th birthday and then Sonic 3 for my 12th, before a trip to town on the bus with my Gran to buy Sonic & Knuckles when that released later.
Funnily enough, I remember that Sonic 2 actually didn’t review that well at the time, with a couple of magazines giving it scores in the mid 70s. The complaint seemed to be that it didn’t do anything new and Tails was seen as gimiky. I just remember thinking they were nuts! It’s longer than Sonic 1, with simultaneous 2 player modes, 3D special stages and an absolute killer soundtrack.
Surprisingly great article - time machine style ,)
@BulkSlash The lack of a save feature is probably why I find Sonic 1 and 2 tedious. That's also the reason I prefer the SNES versions of the classic Marios.
Come to think of it, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Sonic 3 (& Knuckles) the only Mega Drive Sonic game with a save feature? I recall none of the Mega Collection games had it except for that one.
I think i only need a video cable but Im not sure. Before my genesis stopped functioning properly I would randomly plug it in and play. I beat Aladdin after suffering through those dreaded lava levels.
With my confidence high I went to Sonic 2. Metal sonic drained me of lives also plus rings and low on rings or having non I was never able to figure out/win the final fight.
I think you are right that Sonic 3 was the only game with a save feature. I remember Road Rash II having a password system which acted like a save game
I think its amazing your folks preserved your room down to the TV! Would have felt like home away from home.
Sonic 2 is not perfect. It has decent levels such as emerald Hill, chemical plant, casino night but has some levels I find frustrating or boring such as oil ocean, hilltop or mystic caves.
Plus when you get to super sonix he is certainly not as controllable as when you play him on Sonic3&k.
Terrific read and a great reminder of the anniversary of this awesome franchise. Hopefully Sega has something planned beyond the current announcements made.
@BlueOcean Ooh, Sonic & Knuckles Collection? What do you think of the original soundtrack for it?
@noswitchbutidc The Windows version was the first version I played. I don't think that I care if they replace bits of the Mega Drive soundtrack. Michael Jackson's songs are generally great but some of the songs attributed to him in this game (like Carnival Night Zone) are a tad overrated, in my opinion.
In regard to the soundtrack, I like the Windows version of Carnival Night more but I like the Mega Drive version of Ice Cap much more. Launch Base's songs are both okay.
The best song of Sonic 3 is Angel Island Zone:
@BlueOcean The "original" tracks were actually added later on, since SEGA was going to have a different OST on Genesis before Jackson was involved, this claim is backed up with this ROM: https://tcrf.net/Proto:Sonic_the_Hedgehog_3
So the Mega Drive/Genesis prototype uses the Windows version music? Interesting.
Tap here to load 44 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...