TSS REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (iOS)

I’m sure I am not alone when I say I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve purchased Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in various incarnations, be it through a port to a 7th gen console or a compilation release over the last decade. Yet, SEGA keep coming back to these classic titles in order to capitalise on those still reminiscing of a golden age, and indeed I keep coming back to these epitomes of gaming on the Megadrive. I might have been apprehensive in purchasing this game once more, had it not been for the involvement of the now legendary Taxman and Stealth in this port, and going off their incredible rebuilds of Sonic 1 and Sonic CD for iOS and Android I couldn’t resist.

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Indeed, even after playing for a few minutes, it is obvious that there was no misplaced faith. The Retro Engine lends itself perfectly to the title, with Emerald Hill looking crisp from the get-go. Once you pop into the special stages though, your eyes are in for the real treat; gone is the old frame-by-frame half-pipe, now replaced by a glorious gliding 3D environment that is so silky smooth it’s almost hypnotic. It’s impressive that even the busiest screens don’t show any break in frame rate, which really helps maintain the pace; even when other iOS applications are throwing update after update at you.

I’ve never been fond of the touchscreen interface with mobile ports, but one thing that has made these titles much more bearable is playing them on one of the larger devices, specifically the iPad; the larger footprint of the D-pad makes for a much more pleasant experience than on the iPhone counterpart (or maybe it’s just my fat thumbs). That said there were some experiences where precision was required and my thumbs missed the control, resulting in my hurtling down the level after failing to avoid an Asteron explosion.

Sonic2-BossFightControls aside, what will really sell this to the veteran Sonic fans is the new inclusions to the game, namely the much talked about Hidden Palace Zone, which until now only existed as screenshots from the Beta version, an unused track in the sound test and years of speculation on forums. Should you be fortunate enough to find the new stage (as its name suggests, it’s hidden, and hidden in the most ingenious place), you’ll discover a level that has been built from the ground up by Taxman and Stealth. Without spoiling the mystique for those who are yet to play through, the stage feels like it’s been part of the game forever; alternative routes, Badniks and obstacles unique to the environment are some of the highlights of the stage, along with the most original and refreshing boss fight I have played though in many, many years. The Hidden Palace Zone music from the original has not been utilised to accompany the stage, but instead has been replaced with the 2-player stage theme to fit the pace of the level; a wise choice in my opinion.

On the subject of the two player mode, the feature has been completely revamped in order to open it up to the competitive arena of the internet, bringing in elements such as randomised item boxes and the shields from Sonic 3 / S&K, making for a much different experience from previous incarnations. While not an element of gameplay I generally garner the most pleasure from, many will find the ability to drop in and out of the multiplayer mode a huge attraction, even if the odd disconnection and lag occurs from time-to-time; this seems to be symptomatic of networks rather than a flaw in the game itself. The various time attack modes available also offer an extra dimension of re-playability that will extend the game’s interest long after completion of the main game.

I’m unsure whether it was intentional or not, but in both play through with Sonic and Tails I failed to encounter the Hill Top Zone boss. The first time through, the change only builds anticipation of the additional zone, however, many will be disappointed that this boss has been left out the final version, or only appears in certain circumstances. [UPDATE: Apparently the omission of the boss was a glitch, and the new update fixes this – T].

Flaws aside, and smalls flaws at that, this game makes for the hat-trick of classic ports that have regenerated the titles universally thought to be virtually perfect. The title is a testament and an example of a game in a franchise where those working behind the scenes have a great passion for what they are creating. Taxman and Stealth should once again be proud of their magnificent endeavor, and I only hope SEGA are now negotiating their work on a fourth title. If you own an mobile device, this is a must have purchase regardless of your level of dedication to the franchise. Even if you have defeated Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a hundred times, you’ll want to revisit it at least once more through the mobile port; it makes for a strangely new, yet nostalgic experience.

You’ll Love:

+ Three playable characters from the get-go for three different game experiences

+ A brand new level, faithful to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog 2

+ Boss and stage time attack modes

+ A rejuvenated multiplayer mode with online play

You’ll Hate:

– Some frustrating moments with connection issues

– Using the touch screen controls in vital situations

– Putting the game down

 

Published by

Adam Tuff

With a decade under his belt, Adam is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Adam is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.

20 Comments

  1. Ugh, they really screwed up Hidden Palace. Not only is it just another Zone now, missing all what it was supposed to have to set it apart from the other levels (ie: its ties to the Chaos Emeralds and its ability to enable Sonic to become Super Sonic), but it’s not even using the proper bgm. They stupidly used the 2p Mystic Cave theme, even though a theme specifically composed to HPZ exists and available in Sonic 2 as an unused track. This HPZ is nothing more than pointless fanservice (and not even well-done fanservice at that) by two Sonic fanboys who were given waaaay too much freedom by Sega. Thankfully S3&K has no scrapped levels, so Taxman and Stealth won’t be able to screw up like this with their eventual remake of that game (unless Sega allows them to shoehorn in new levels like Taxman tried to do with his Sonic CD port, ugh…).

    1. Pfft, none of us even know what the original purpose of the stage was. Sure, there are rumors and little notes, but none of us know for certain if it was all meant to be just one scripted event where Sonic becomes Super Sonic. If anything, the only complain I have is with the music selection. It just doesn’t fit the “Mystic Cave” vibe.

    2. I’m kind of glad they didn’t make the level to its original purpose because the Special Stages in Sonic 2 are total ass and I would hate to have to play them all to try it. Plus they probably wanted to keep it totally optional so people such as yourself who don’t want any changes could just avoid it rather than having to play it when they collect all the emeralds on 100% runs.

      They also stated that they felt the intended HPZ music wasn’t matching the fast-paced gameplay so they decided to use the Mystic Cave 2P theme as it fit the action better. I do think they could have hidden away a little music toggle switch on the stage select or something for those who wanted to play with the original music.

    3. The only thing I can think of for them to do for Sonic 3 & Knuckles is changing up on the order of the levels to match the Level Select Screen in Sonic 3. So it be having Flying Battery after Carnival Night. Though I would seriously crap my pants if they include the Knuckles’ Chaotix Levels.

  2. Amazing port in my opinion, absolutely loved it. Hidden Palace zone fits in excellently with the original game, feels absolutely like an original level and I love the boss! I also love mucking about in debug mode.

    With reference to the Hill Top boss, I missed it the first few play-throughs I did too, but they’ve recently updated the app and the boss is now there every time.

  3. The Hill Top Zone boss was definitely there when I played as Knuckles, but I haven’t gotten around to playing as the other two yet. It seems weird for them to just remove a boss like that…

  4. The Hill Top Zone boss being left out was due to a glitch, I believe. Its since been readded through an update on the app store.

  5. I absolutely love this remake of Sonic 2, Hidden Palace Zone “even though I kinda expected it” was great and I think the Mystic Cave 2P song worked for the stage, after all it was the song in the prototype. The only thing I wished that was also included was Wood Zone and the Sonic Jam difficulty settings. Other than that, it’s fantastic!

    1. Debug Mode is enabled the exact same way as the original release. Tap all letters of the word Sega and hold the both buttons to go to the stage select screen, then click this code on the sound test. 1,9,9,2,1,1,2,4

    2. Tap S-E-G-A on no save mode, and immediately place two fingers on the screen. Level select will pop up. From here, enter 1-9-9-2-1-1-2-4 in sound test. And the options in the Sonic 1 remaster are shown by playing 0-0-0.

        1. Right now this version of Sonic 2 is only for Android and iOS. As far as I know there is no plans for Console release.

  6. “I’m sure I am not alone when I say I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve purchased Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in various incarnations”

    Well, I can give it a try.

    Genesis original cart
    Sonic Jam
    Sonic Mega Collection
    Xbox LIVE Arcade
    pretty sure I have one of those Smash Pack thingies
    iOS

    Not too terribly many, I suppose.

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