TSS REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-Bit)

The Master System and Game Gear counterparts of Sonic 2 sees you play as Sonic and Sonic alone. You must rescue Miles ‘Tails’ Prower from the vile clutches of Burger Boy (ahem, I mean Dr. Robotnik ^_^) as he plans to rule all of the planet. Luckily for Sonic, ‘Eggman’ appears to have lost the Chaos Emeralds.

You have to find these gems, and reach Robotnik’s base. This isn’t easy as it sounds, considering that to reach the final stage (and even have a chance of rescuing Tails) Sonic needs to already have obtained five of the six Chaos Emeralds. The final Chaos Emerald is powering Robotnik’s ultimate weapon, and gathering them all will allow you to enter his secret base… The Crystal Egg.

sonic2ms-title

Platform: Master System, Game Gear | Developer: SEGA Japan
EU Release: 29 Oct 1992  |  US Release: 17 Nov 1992  |  JP Release: 21 Nov 1992


The second outing of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Master System and the Game Gear proves to be a bit tougher than the previous game. It sees you play as Sonic only (unlike the Mega Drive version) in a bid to save a kidnapped ‘Tails’ from Dr. Robotnik. Still equipped with his spin attack, Sonic must journey through seven rock-hard levels in order to rescue his furry friend – from the ‘Underground’ to Eggman’s ‘Crystal Egg’.

Intent on screwing up Sonic’s plans on the way, Eggman tries to stop you in your tracks at the end of each Zone. But what’s this? Instead of being courteous and gracing you with his presence, the blubber bucket decides to throw in some of his guardian robots. These metal bosses range from easy to insane. Unlike the previous Sonic game, the difficulty curve is all over the place in Sonic 2. For example, Sky High Zone’s (second zone) boss is easy, but Underground Zone’s (first zone) boss is much harder (on Game Gear that is).

sonic2ms-shz1

That’s not to say that the game is bad though. Sonic can use new items which can help him on his quest to save ‘Tails’. Underground Zone is filled with mine carts that you can ride in (relatively) safely. Sky High Zone cannot be completed without the aid of special hang gliders, and Aqua Lake Zone has air capsules in Act 2 which both give Sonic air to breathe and can float him up to higher platforms.

As in the previous game, you cannot truly complete Sonic 2 until you get all of the Chaos Emeralds. This is even more apparent here – Sonic cannot enter Robotnik’s new base Crystal Egg Zone, unless he has already collected five of the six Chaos Emeralds hidden in every other Zone. The final gem is given to you as a prize for defeating Eggman’s new weapon, taking refuge in Scrambled Egg Zone…

sonic2ms-uz1

Although the first Sonic game having a few differences between handheld and console, the same can’t really be said for Sonic 2. The only difference between versions is that the Game Gear release is a little harder to play, owing to the console’s small screen.

The opening animation is slightly different for each platform – the Game Gear version has Robotnik capturing ‘Tails’ at night, using the ‘Scrambled Egg Zone’ music. On the Master System, the opening begins with Eggman and an already-captured ‘Tails’ in the daytime, using Game Gear version’s title screen theme.

Other than that, nothing is really that different, not even the graphics – the Game Gear version has had its sprite sets upgraded to match those of the Master System version (which itself hasn’t really been altered since Sonic 1).

In terms of gameplay, it’s a bit hit and miss – Sega have massively upped the difficulty curve for this game, so only hardcore Sonic fans have a hope in hell of completing the game with every single Chaos Emerald. Again, the Emeralds are littered about the levels instead of a special stage, but the challenge in getting these annoys more than it satisfies (seriously, in one Zone there’s a Chaos Emerald hidden in a wall, which you’d never find unless you spent a whole lot of time jumping into every wall you see – not exactly helpful game design).

Still, this is a belter of a game for those of you that can handle the pressure. Every level is excellently designed and taxes you to the limit. I’d give this a 10, if Sega didn’t make the move of straying from the rest of the Sonic games and make this game a bit inaccessible to play for younger players or less experienced gamers. Still, all the more for you hardcore fans, eh?

9/10

Screenshots: Master System Version

Screenshots: Game Gear Version

Published by

Dreadknux

Sexy founder of The Sonic Stadium, and creator and co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic fan convention. By day, I'm a super-fantastic games journalist, el professionale. By night, I'm the mother-loving Sonical Batman. I keep the site ticking, look after the TSS Network, and get all excited about Sonic games so that you can too. May contain nuts.