The sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog, and proof that Sega's little blue mascot wouldn't be going away anytime soon.This game is notable for introducing Sonic's buddy Tails, Super Sonic (the eponymous character's Emerald-powered super form), and the Spin Dash technique — all of which have become series staples. It is one of the best selling Sega Genesis games of all time, selling over six million copies.Like its predecessor, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had both a 16-bit and 8-bit version, but unlike its predecessor, both versions had different stories.The 16-bit versionReleased for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis worldwide Tuesday, November 24, 1992, a date nicknamed "Sonic 2sday" during its marketing campaign.On a trip to West Side Island, Sonic meets a shy young fox named Miles Prower, nicknamed "Tails" by the other inhabitants of the island based on the fact that he has two tails. Sonic allows Tails to tag along with him when he notices that the fox can keep up with him by rotating his two tails like a jet propeller. Tails is also a surprisingly gifted mechanic for his age, as evident when he curiously examines the Tornado, a biplane Sonic uses to travel to West Side Island.Meanwhile, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik (still smarting from his defeat on South Island) has gone global: He's enslaved a new army of Badniks to hunt down the Chaos Emeralds, which he needs to bring his planet-sized space station, the Death Egg, to full power. Fear will keep the local islands in line, fear of this battle station. It's up to Sonic to stop him, but he's going to need help... and a vulpine pilot who made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.Its engine based on its predecessor, Sonic 2 kicks everything up a notch. The gameplay is faster than before. It features 11 Zones, most of which have two Acts; to compensate for having one Act less per Zone than its predecessor, the Acts here are quite a bit longer. Debuting here is the Spin Dash, a technique where Sonic (or Tails) spins in place, revs up, and takes off as a spinning ball of doom, allowing players to destroy Badniks without having to jump and gain instant speed to go up slopes and loops. Also making its debut is the super form; here, after collecting all seven Emeralds and gathering 50 rings, Sonic turns into Super Sonic, a golden hedgehog who's even faster than his regular form and possesses a higher jump (as well as invulnerability). The Special Stages were also retooled, introducing a "non-stop 3D movement" philosophy that would be embraced by the Special stages of its successors. Thanks to these improvements and additions, Sonic 2 is a massive fan favorite, not to mention the second-best-selling Genesis game of all time (right behind its predecessor, of course). To this day, critics often hail it as the best game in the franchise.The game is the first part in a three game arc regarding the Death Egg, being resolved in the bipartite gameSonic 3 & Knuckles.In 2013, off the heels of the similarly remade Sonic The Hedgehog 1, Sonic the Hedeghog 2 was remade in the Retro Engine by Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead and Simon "Stealth" Thomley. This time, Sonic and Tails's team-up ability from the Sonic 1 remake returns and Tails now has the ability to fly and swim, something that he was unable to do by himself in the original game. The game also adds a new Boss Attack mode and Hidden Palace Zone, hidden where the infamous spike pit in Mystic Cave Zone Act 2 was. The two-player mode has also underwent a major upgrade — a bigger selection of zones is available, Knuckles is no longer confined to the single-player experience, and each player's screen occupies their own tablet (rather than appearing in a split-screen as in the original).
Ascended Meme: The infamous spike pit in Mystic Cave Zone Act 2 is where you access Hidden Palace Zone in the Android and iOS remakes.
Batman Can Breathe in Space: As indicated by the end of Wing Fortress Zone, both Sonic and Tails can breathe in space... but not in water.
Big Damn Heroes: Tails gets such a moment in the normal ending by flying the Tornado near the edge of space to catch Sonic after the Death Egg's explosion. If playing as Tails alone, Sonic gets this moment instead. If all seven Emeralds are collected as Sonic, he goes Super after jumping out and flies alongside the Tornado instead.
Bonus Stage Collectables: The Chaos Emeralds are back, and they are collected the same way as before (enter and complete Special Stages). This time, however, there are seven of them, and to access the Special Stages, you now have to pass a check point with 50 rings and enter the portal above it.
Butt Monkey: Tails is, as one "Let's Play" author on YouTube put it, gaming's first meat shield.
Also, issue 6 of Sonic the Comic had a story in which Sonic and Tails travel through the last two zones of the game in order to prevent the destroyed Death Egg from crashing into the Emerald Hill Zone.
Continuing Is Painful: This game is an instance in which continuing after something beneficial happens can be painful: once you go into a Special Stage, you come back out with no rings. Thankfully, this isn't the case when playing as Knuckles.
Cool Plane: The Tornado. It even gains a rocket booster in the finale.
Co-Op Multiplayer: Of the tag-along variety; In single player, a second player can control Tails. However, his flight ability can only be used when AI controlled. There is versus mode multiplayer as well.
Executive Meddling: Sonic Team planned for eighteen Zones but producers wanted to get the game out in time for the Christmas season which forced Sonic Team to scrap several Zones.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: If you're playing as Sonic and Tails, both characters are present in the Special Stages even during Wing Fortress Zone, where Tails is absent.
Game-Breaking Bug: Whatever you do, do not try to turn back into Super Sonic again at the end of a level (where touching a goalpost or capsule cancels out Super Sonic automatically); most of the time, doing so will trap Sonic in mid-air, preventing the game from moving on to the next level, and thus forcing the player to reset the game. It should be noted that is only applies to the first versions of the game. A later revision of the game got released that fixed this glitch, and this version was also used on the Sonic Classics cartridge.
Green Hill Zone: Emerald Hill Zone, essentially an even easier variation on the original Green Hill Zone.
Impossibly Graceful Giant: Averted by the Giant Mech, who moves rather slowly. Made ironic by Dr. Eggman's running skills shown before the battle.
Invincible Minor Minion: Crawl in the Casino Night Zone can only be destroyed by spinning or rolling into him from behind: attacks from above or the front bounce harmlessly off his pinball bumper shield. On the other hand, he's fairly passive and if you don't bother him, he won't bother you. An appropriate enemy for the Casino Park level.
The Flashers in the Mystic Cave Zone are invincible when lit up (even when Sonic himself has the invincibility power-up, he'll just pass straight through them without destroying them).
Kaizo Trap: Sort of. During the boss fight in Chemical Plant Zone Act 2, the ground on either side of the arena flips periodically, sending whatever's on them into the water and the pit just beneath the surface. Since there's probably no hope for you if you fall in, you still have to be careful after the boss is beaten, because the platforms still flip. It doesn't help that said boss is suddenly harder than what little you've already gone through.
A literal kaizo trap can happen at the end of Metropolis Zone Act 3. If you beat the boss as Super Sonic without destroying any of the clone bubbles the boss spawns and then run out of rings before reaching the animal pod at the end of the level, it's actually possible for the clone bubbles to follow you over to the pod and kill you while your end-of-level score is being tallied. Of course, you'd pretty much have to be actively trying for this to happen, so it overlaps heavily with Epic Fail.
Levels Take Flight: The aptly named Sky Chase Zone. Despite the mellow groovy background music, and relaxed pace, it's harder than it looks.
Logo Joke: Sonic rushes to the right, and then to the left, his afterimage revealing the Sega logo, the "SAYYYYYYY-GUH!" from the first game then playing.
Long Song, Short Scene: The Death Egg Zone theme is whimsically creepy, catchy, and awesome...and since it's only played in the corridor before the Mecha Sonic fight, you likely won't even hear 10 seconds of it. This is justified by the fact that it was originally supposed to be played for a full-length Act in the Death Egg Zone, but that was Dummied Out.
The Missingno.: Messing around in debug mode could turn Sonic's sprite black and green; fans have nicknamed this new "character" Ashura.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: The crab-themed badniks in every other Sonic game, and most relevantly the Crabmeats in Sonic 1, are usually The Goomba, among the weakest enemies. Then the Metropolis Zone throws the Shellcraker [sic] at you, which looks similar but is insanely hard to avoid or kill with an incredibly small hitbox.
The crab/bumper enemies in Casino Night Zone are impossible to defeat from the front because they always block your moves. You have to spin dash them from behind. This has caught a lot of players out.
Old Save Bonus: If the game is locked on with Sonic & Knuckles, Knuckles in Sonic 2 can be played. This makes Knuckles playable with all his abilities from Sonic & Knuckles intact. In the 2013 remake, Knuckles is available from the beginning.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: With no rings available in the final stage, Sonic is effectively reduced to this.
Palette Swap: Tails is basically this for Sonic. Despite being able to fly while AI-controlled, you can't do so while playing as him. The only major gameplay difference is that Tails can't go super. This was addressed in Sonic 3.
Also, Hill Top Zone uses almost the same graphics as Emerald Hill Zone. The only differences being that the ground has blue blocks under the grass instead of brown, it has lava, and it has pine trees instead of palm trees. Loading the game in a tile editor reveals Emerald Hill Zone even has the vines that those blue platforms slide down, and a very early prototype of the game (which appears to be the same one shown on an episode of Nick Arcade) allows you to place the seesaws from Hill Top in Emerald Hill by using debug mode.
Emerald Hill Zone and Hill Top Zone were the first two levels designed for the game, and it's not inconceivable that they were supposed to follow one another at one point. Hill Top Zone was also supposed to have a winter version called Winter Hill Zone but this was never implemented into the game. The game developers said they used the same palette to save space, the same reason why they used the Metropolis Zone palette for Genocide/Cyber City Zone (Act 3 of Metropolis), and how in the first game they used Labyrinth Zone's Palette for Act 3 of Scrap Brain Zone.
It's harder to notice, but the Death Egg Zone uses the same tileset as the Chemical Plant Zone.
Pop Star Composer: Dreams Come True bassist Masato Nakamura once again, who provided music for its predecessor. Due to financial disagreements between him and Sega, this would be Nakamura's last contribution to the series until Sonic 2006 (where Dreams Come True teamed up with Akon to do a remix of "SWEET SWEET SWEET" and "SWEET DREAMS"). Nakamura's departure resulted in the intro music for Sonic Spinball, originally a metal-esque remix of his Sonic theme, getting replaced by a different tune, and Sega relying on composers from its Wave Master music studio to write the music for most subsequent Sonic games.
Scenery Porn: The second game manages to be even more beautiful than the first, which was already gorgeous as it was.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 is a lot harder than it's position in the game (fourth Act out of twenty) would suggest, and for a while afterwards the game gets quite a bit easier.
Secret Level: The 2013 remake adds one. In the original game, there is an inescapable spike pit in Mystic Cave Zone Act 2. The remake removes the spikes and the pit instead leads to none other than the formerly Dummied Out Hidden Palace Zone.
Sequel Hook: Present in the remake once you've collected all the Chaos Emeralds.
Shoo Out the Clowns: When playing as Sonic with Tails tagging along, the Tornado-1 gets shot down at the beginning of Wing Fortress Zone, with Tails inside. Sonic has to face the last two Zones alone.
Inverted if you're playing as Tails: the Tornado gets shot down with Sonic inside.
Shout-Out: Few American kids might have caught the reference in '92, but looking back, it's hard to observe Sonic powering up to an absurdly high level by sporting gold fur and wildly upright spines (after collecting seven artifacts of power, no less) and not be reminded of a certain anime series. Also, that's no moon. It's a Death Egg.
For Japanese children, it made perfect sense; however, Dragon Ball Z did not become popular in the United States until Toonami picked it up several years later. So for many American children, the "super" shtick was more of an Older Than They Think .
Not even the cheat codes are immune to this. Due to every sound in the Sound Test being assigned a hexadecimal number, it wasn't difficult for Sega to slip in a couple of extra shoutouts. Using the Japanese date format (year, month, day), the level select code becomes September 17th, 1965 (19-65-09-17) - Yuji Naka's date of birth - while the debug mode code becomes November 24, 1992 (01-09-09-02-01-01-02-04); the fabled "Sonic 2s-day" that saw the game's North American and European release.
The Casino Night Zone is a development on the Spring Yard Zone "pinball machine" theme, to the extent that it's one of the most influential levels on future Sonic games while all vestiges of Spring Yard were dropped.
The Metropolis Zone for the Scrap Brain Zone. Both are an Eternal Engine, green in color, etc...to the point where people playing Sonic 2 for the first time in 1992 were subject to Your Princess Is in Another Castle when they found out it wasn't in fact the final Zone.
Aquatic Ruin Zone is this for Labyrinth Zone, due to its use of water and ruins, but is somewhat easier.
Super Mode: Introduced in this game. Become Super Sonic by collecting all Chaos Emeralds. After that, collect 50 rings and jump. Normally touching enemies hurts Sonic, but as Super Sonic, it defeats enemies instead. Touching spikes in Super Mode won't hurt Sonic either, but he can still die by falling in a bottomless pit, being crushed, or drowning. As Super Sonic, Sonic's rings decrease steadily and he turns back into regular Sonic if he runs out. It's only for Sonic though. Tails will have to wait for the next game(s).
This Is a Drill: Robotnik has two drill-themed contraptions: the drill-tank contraption from Emerald Hill Zone, and the cave-burrowing contraption from Mystic Cave Zone.
The Grounder Badnik in Aquatic Ruin Zone has two drills for hands and a third for a nose. The Spiker Badnik in Hill Top Zone comes equipped with a detachable spiked drill on its head.
Tube Travel: In the Chemical Plant Zone and the Metropolis Zone.
Under the Sea: Aquatic Ruin Zone is a fairly halfhearted attempt, given that it's quite easy to pass both Acts without going underwater once. It may represent fan backlash over Labyrinth Zone, but annoyed players who didn't automatically view water levels as Down the Drain.
Ironically, you could easily spend more time underwater in the Chemical Plant Zone.
Unwinnable by Mistake: When you finish the stage as Super Sonic (i.e. run past the spinning sign at the end), you immediately power down. If you jump again, you'll transform into Super Sonic, immediately power down, and be stuck running in place in midair. Sonic runs to the right and offscreen when the sign finishes spinning; but if he's stuck in midair, the stage doesn't register as finished and you have to reset.
Urban Legend of Zelda: Several planned Zones were Dummied Out, such as Wood Zone (eventually recycled as Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic & Knuckles), Death Egg Zone (all of the Zone before the final boss fights was cut) and Hidden Palace Zone (whose soundtrack and some data survives in the final cartridge). A lot of Wild Mass Guessing has surrounded these, including the idea that originally Sonic 2 was supposed to have the time travel gimmick of Sonic CD and the Dust Hill Zone (which eventually became the Mystic Cave Zone) was a Bad Future of Emerald Hill Zone, and so forth. A particularly mysterious cut level is the gloriously named Genocide City Zone. See What Could Have Been below.
Genocide City was actually supposed to be a single act Zone, and was replaced by of Metropolis Zone Act 3, Or So I Heard.
Genocide City was eventually renamed Cyber City Zone once the Japanese developers understood what the word actually meant. However, the lost Zone did make a comeback of sorts in Sonic Spinball.
This is also the entire point of the Tails abuse Machinima series by Whoisthisgit on YouTube (the ones that use actual gameplay at least).
Wake Up Call Boss: Robotnik's chemical-dumper contraption from Chemical Plant Zone, the second Zone. It's not too hard, but the two platforms on both sides of the field periodically collapse into bottomless pits, making it very possible for a chemical projectile to knock you into the purple water below. Playing as "Sonic and Tails" also presents its share of problems, as when you jump, so does Tails, and if he hits Robotnik first, you'll go through Robotnik (due to his Mercy Invincibility) and down the pit.
However, if you actually have a second player to wield the other controller, it becomes laughably easy, since a crouching Sonic is immune to the boss' attack, and Tails will always respawn if you manage to get him killed.
Warmup Boss: Robotnik's drill-tank contraption from Emerald Hill Zone, which goes from one side of the screen to the other. It's even easier than the wrecking ball contraption from Sonic 1 (which was also the first boss of its respective game)!
What Could Have Been: The five missing Zones - Dust Hill, Wood, Cyber City, Hidden Palace, and Death Egg Zone would have truly been spectacular. But Sega wanted it out by the holidays when it was finished so the Zones were scrapped.
Often considered a myth by fans, the truth is the game was originally conceived as a time spanning game but the limitations of the cartridge disallowed this. A year after Sonic 2 was released, a related game, Sonic CD, began development and with the new Sega CD expansion hardware and new possibilities allowed the Sega Team (now known as Sonic Team) to come through with their first ideas and add the time travel to the new game.
The 8-bit versionReleased for the Sega Master System and Game Gear, this version was actually the first to be released, although the Genesis version appears to be the canon one.Bored after defeating Robotnik a little while back, Sonic leaves South Island in search of adventure. When he returns, he finds most of his animal friends, including his best bud Tails, gone. He finds a letter from Tails, which states that Robotnik is behind the kidnappings, and he's holding Tails ransom for the six Chaos Emeralds inside his lair, the Crystal Egg Zone. Justifiably riled up, Sonic sets off once again to take down Robotnik.This version of Sonic 2 builds on its predecessor with somewhat faster gameplay, even including loops in one Zone. It also includes some differences from its 16-bit counterpart, such as Zone gimmicks including mine carts and hang gliders, the lack of a spin dash (perhaps due to being this being the first version released), and the omission of Tails as a playable character (for obvious reasons, of course).Once again, however, the Emeralds are collected in the second act of each Zone, except for the sixth, where it's the reward for beating the penultimate Zone's boss after collecting the first five. Getting all of them grants access to the true final Zone, the areforementioned Crystal Egg, where Sonic confronts Robotnik in a final battle to save Tails.It's also the only SMS/GG Sonic game to not have Special Stages.
Tropes appearing in this version:
Bond Villain Stupidity: The sequence before the first boss battle can look like this trope: if Robotnik wants Sonic dead, why did he rescue him at the end of the Underground Zone? To drop him in front of his death trap, of course... but if one remembers the plot of the game, Robotnik wants the Chaos Emeralds. At this point of the game, Sonic is supposed to already have one Chaos Emerald out of six, and Robotnik sure doesn't want it to sink into the lava.
Never Trust a Level Intro: Each level intro segment features Sonic and Tails going through the trials of the upcoming level, but Tails is not a playable character; he is kidnapped.
Nintendo Hard: The Game Gear release is considered significantly harder than the Master System's due to a smaller resolution inhibiting players from being able to see what's ahead, resulting in cheap hits/deaths.
No Fair Cheating: You need all the Chaos Emeralds to get to the Crystal Egg zone to get the good ending. If you don't have them all (save the one you get from the boss) the game ends there with the bad ending. If you use the level select cheat to get to the Crystal Egg zone, you'll rescue Tails (he'll appear in the teleporter when Robotnik retreats), but he won't be there in the ending.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Due in part to the lack of checkpoints or shields and the increased length of the still-ringless boss Acts (Green Hills Zone Act 3 in particular has a series of blind jumps over spike pits before you reach the boss), this game is generally regarded as significantly harder than its predecessor, as well as harder than most other Sonic games from the same era. The Game Gear version adds some difficulty due to the screen displaying a smaller area, but even the Master System version is widely considered difficult by the standards of the series.
Soundtrack Dissonance: In the Master System version, what is the cheery title screen music in the GG version plays in the opening cutscene where Tails is kidnapped by Robotnik, and the melancholic music from the bad ending plays for both endings. The Game Gear version rectifies both cases by using the suitably foreboding Scrambled Egg Zone theme in the opening cutscene and providing happy music for the good ending.
Stars Are Souls: During the staff roll credits of the bad ending, Sonic looks up into the sky and sees an image of Tails among the stars. This can be interpreted to mean that Robotnik actually killed him (although this interpretation doesn't explain why in the good ending Sonic and Tails are both pictured among the stars, while being alive and well) .
Villainous Rescue: Robotnik surprisingly pulls this on Sonic in Underground Zone Act 3; when Sonic is about to fall into a pit of lava, he hastily grabs him with a claw machine, lifting him up...only to drop him into a boss battle.
In the 8-bit version, without collecting the first five Emeralds upon defeating the Scrambled Egg boss, the game simply ends there, and you get a total Downer Ending. Unable to save Tails, Sonic is running along a trail while sad music plays, and after the staff roll ends, he halts to look at the sky, where he sees Tails's face in the clouds, implying that poor Tails was killed. The good ending is infinitely more satisfying. Happy music plays (unless it's the SMS version, where it plays the sad music for both endings) as Sonic and Tails run along a trail, and after the staff roll ends, they halt to look at the sky, and see each other's faces in the clouds.
Lethal Lava Land: Hill Top Zone and Metropolis Zone (Genesis), and Underground Zone (8-bit).
Villain Exit Stage Left: In the Genesis version, Dr. Eggman flies away when defeated, as usual. However, when defeated on his giant mech, he goes down with the Death Egg (though he survived and the Death Egg didn't really explode). In the 8-bit version, it's played straight as he escapes after the final battle.