When originally installing the SEGA AGES Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I expected the same game on a new console. That’s only partially the case. There are more features and modes that make this bigger than just another port.
Sonic 2 follows a formula similarly set by the first game, but just different enough that you’re not feeling like it’s Sonic 1.5. The game is divided by two acts per zone, instead of three like the first game. To compensate for this, they give you more zones to enjoy. If you find 50 rings before hitting a check point, you get transported to a bonus stage. In the bonus stages, Sonic circles a halfpipe while collecting rings and avoiding bombs. These stages are fun, but also arguably the most challenging part of the game.
Part of what makes the SEGA AGES version of the game more accessible than the original is the inclusion of save states. This made the bonus stages far easier than when played on the Sega Genesis. One thing I found interesting is the exclusion of a rewind feature. It’s one feature I didn’t particularly miss while playing, but it was a staple feature in the SEGA Genesis Classics version of the game. It would’ve been helpful for inexperienced players to have it here too.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s visuals have aged gracefully. It’s a prettier game than some other games of the same era. The game offers a few image enhancement options, including smoothing, scan lines or both. It may not be much, but the scan lines were best for me.
The game is just as fun as it was in the early 90’s, but what makes this version cooler is the inclusion of Knuckles. It’s the same Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game as the original, but with the ability to play as Knuckles instead. His repertoire of moves give you the ability to glide and climb on walls. It changes the game quite a bit, and creates shortcuts in some levels that previously wouldn’t be possible. Knuckles mode is easier than playing as Sonic, but in my playthrough, it’s the most fun. It’s also a great way to get a new generation to play this classic.
There’s also a new mode called 100 ring challenge. This is a mode that allows you to play the first level of the game with the goal of collecting 100 rings. Sounds simple, and it is, but you have to make it to the end as quickly as possible. This mode allowed me to explore the whole level and made me appreciate how much goes into the level. I really just wish there was a way to play the rest of the levels in this way, not just the first.
SEGA AGES Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a major blast from the past. It looks and plays great, and it’s the right kind of way to release a new port. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is just as enjoyable now as it was nearly thirty years ago when it was originally released. Thanks to the SEGA AGES version, the fun shows no signs of slowing down.