As Sega continues to port numerous titles from their extensive software library over to Nintendo’s console/portable hybrid, it was inevitable that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 would arrive sooner or later. It is, after all, the game that introduced the blue blur’s sidekick and the chaos emeralds/ Super Sonic. Heck, it even kicked off the trend of big video game releases taking place on Tuesdays (something that’s commonplace almost thirty years later!). While I personally own this game on everything but the kitchen sink thanks to various Sega compilations over the years, this port is something I could gladly get behind solely on the merit of M2 Co. being at the helm.
They did an incredible job of porting Alex Kidd in Miracle World (originally released on the Sega Master System in 1986) to the Switch, with a ton of added bells and whistles to make it the definitive way to play the game. That said, is this version of Sonic 2 the definitive means of accessing the classic Genesis title or is it one that Sega veterans can safely pass up?
The core gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is unaltered. This is still the same game from 1992 with all of its pros and cons, but as with many of this company’s ports, there are several additions and features to play with. First, the drop-dash ability, which was also included in M2’s Sonic 1 Switch port, is present here. This allows the player to get a quick speed boost without having to crouch down and mash the jump button to initiate a spin-dash. While I felt that this mechanic added a lot more depth to how the level design of Sonic 1 could be approached, I didn’t find many applications for it in levels.
The second addition is the inclusion of Knuckles as a playable character, which could only be achieved back in the day by plugging your Sonic 2 cartridge into your Sonic & Knuckles cartridge. This happens to be the only port of the game available that includes this option, and Sonic’s rival does open up a lot of options when traversing the game’s numerous zones. It’s also worth mentioning that Knuckles gets to hang on to whatever rings he amassed prior to a death or entry/exit of a special stage, making him a good character for new players or those who might have gotten rusty over the years.
Par for the course is a few new modes of play too. The ring-keep mode that was introduced in the Sonic 1 port has carried over, added yet another layer of accessibility for the novice player. Ring-chain mode, which counts the number of rings you collect and resets if you spill them, is also back for those who like to do leaderboard chasing. You can choose to start the game with Super Sonic unlocked after completing it once- a task that’s fairly difficult when shooting for it through the natural course of gameplay. Last but not least, there are borders as well as CRT filters to emulate an old boob-tube display (which I’m always an advocate of in ports and retro-inspired projects).
While this is a fantastic port that offers a lot more than any other that’s been released for consoles so far, I can’t help but feel like Sega could’ve gone further. Christian Whitehead, responsible for the fantastic Sonic Mania, pushed out an incredibly impressive mobile port (complete with re-imagined levels that were cut from the game after a prototype was swiped) that fans have been begging to have re-released onto consoles for quite some time. Why they didn’t team up with Whitehead for this re-release is beyond me, but what stands is still the best port of the Genesis classic to ever appear on consoles. If you don’t happen to have the game on any other compilation and plan on making the most out of the additional features, you’re going to get a lot of mileage out of SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at its sub $10 pricepoint.