Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the second game in the Sonic series and sequel to Sonic 1. Sonic 2 was developed by Sonic Team and Sega Technical Institute. More zones and levels also featuring the Super Sonic form empowered by the Chaos Emeralds, and other playable character, Tails, also can be used as second player, Sonic 2 has sold 6 million copies and is the best selling game on the Genesis (Mega Drive), and Sega best selling game of all time.
While cruising over the ocean in his antique biplane, the Tornado, Sonic notices a small island particularly lush with greenery. He flies down for a bit of vacation time, closely followed by an unseen figure that lands on the opposite end of the island... The tiny resort turns out to be West Side Island, which, as the folklore goes, was once the home of a flourishing civilization. The people of the island utilized the power of seven mysterious stones for the advancement of their society. However, their prosperity lead to avarice, which did not sit well with the gods. The displeased deities reclaimed the stones and sealed them away.
After a few days on the island, it occurs to Sonic that he's being followed. His pursuer is a young fox with two tails who, upon being discovered, dashes into the shade of a nearby tree. Sonic ignores him and zooms off, but the fox whirls his two tails like a propeller and follows the blue stranger at full speed. Sonic is impressed both with the fox's tenacity and his ability to keep up, so he decides to let him tag along. He learns that his new companion is named Miles Prower, though the animals of the island call him "Tails" after his unique mutation.
Early one afternoon, Tails discovers the Tornado sitting on a beach. Being fascinated by all things mechanical, the young fox eagerly runs up to the machine for a thorough investigation, but shyly pulls back when he spots Sonic snoozing in the shade of a wing. His awkward moment is interrupted by a huge explosion from the island's interior. Sonic snaps up to see the forest ablaze and robots scouring the area. It doesn't take the blue hero three guesses to figure out who's behind the disruption: Dr. Eggman, who had discreetly followed Sonic onto West Side Island, is now tearing the place apart in search of the seven Chaos Emeralds. He needs fuel for his Death Egg, a planet-sized space station with unthinkable power. Sonic and Tails take off to locate the Emeralds before Eggman and squash his evil ambition once more.
Sonic's first major sequel doesn't mess with the perfection the original achieved in terms of mechanics, so for a detailed examination of the fundamentals, skip over to the Sonic 1 page. The actual structure has changed a bit, not for the better by the reckoning of most fans, but the tweaks aren't drastic enough to alter the experience. Sonic's faster yet this time around, and the level design caters more to high speeds than platform-jumping obstacles.
Most significant of the new features is the introduction of Miles "Tails" Prower, Sonic's little buddy with the mechanical knack. In a normal game, Tails follows Sonic around and isn't good for much more than showing off the Mega Drive's processing power. He'll grab an extra Ring for you here and there, but other than that, he's just around to look pretty. If he gets on your nerves, you can always go into the options and choose to play as Sonic alone or Tails alone, but the only difference between the two characters is visual. (Tails can fly when he's following Sonic, but when you're in direct control, there will be no aerial antics.)
walk -- Push left or right on the D-pad to initiate Sonic's movement in either direction. As you hold the button down, Sonic gains speed.
run -- Begin walking and hold down the button to make Sonic gain speed. After a few seconds, he'll break into a run.
screech -- While running, quickly press and hold the opposite direction on the D-pad to make Sonic screech to a halt. He'll skid for a short distance, based on how fast he was moving.
look up -- While standing still, press up on the D-pad to make Sonic gaze to the heavens. Continue holding up for a few moments and the camera pans upward, giving you a view of Sonic's overhead surroundings.
crouch -- While standing still, press down on the D-pad to make Sonic duck. As you hold down, the camera pans downward, giving you a view of the stage beneath where Sonic stands.
spin -- While moving, press down on the D-pad to make Sonic curl into a rolling attack. He'll remain in this position until you jump or slow down. The speed of Sonic's movement while in spin form is based on how fast you're moving when you launch it, and also on the terrain Sonic rolls along.
spin jump -- Press A, B, or C at any time to make Sonic leap into the air with a spin attack. The height of the jump is proportional to how long you hold the button down.
push -- Green springs in the Oil Ocean Zone can be pushed by running up against them. Continue holding the D-pad against the spring to have Sonic push it into the wall.
Super Spin Dash -- While crouching, tap the A, B, or C buttons to have Sonic rev up with a stationary spin. Keep tapping the jump buttons to build up momentum, and let go of the D-pad to dash off with a full speed rolling attack.
Ring -- As long as Sonic has some of these, he won't lose a life if he takes damage. You get an extra life for every 100 you collect, and each one is worth 100 points at the end-of-level tally.
Item Box -- In each stage, you'll find a number of these power-up bearing monitors. Pop them open with a spin to procure one of five power-ups:
- Big 10 Ring - Worth 10 Rings
- Barrier - Absorbs one hit
- High Speed - Temporary speed increase
- Muteki - Temporary invincibility
- 1up - Gives Sonic an extra chance
Point Marker -- These hold your place in a stage: should you lose a life, you'll start back at the last Point Marker you crossed. Cross one with at least 50 Rings on hand and a rotating circle of sparkles will briefly appear above the post: jump into it to be warped to the Special Stage.
spring -- Leap onto the broad side to catapult Sonic into the air. The yellow ones send him flying a short distance, and the more powerful red ones send him farther.
spikes -- Don't touch the pointy side, stupid. They're usually found in sets of four, but that's not a steadfast rule. Sometimes they're just lying out in the open, and sometimes they pop in and out of the ground (or the ceiling, or the walls).
switch -- Jump on the button to cause a change in the nearby scenery, usually necessary to proceed.
catapult -- Run off the end to spring a short distance off the ground.
air bubbles -- Large, oxygen-filled bubbles periodically rise from these clusters: tag one to fill Sonic's lungs with air and prolong the time you can spend underwater.
bonus plate -- These signs can be found at the end of each first and second Act. Cross them to end the stage.
capsule -- These are found at the end of each second act, after defeating the boss. Push the button on top to destroy the machine and free the helpless animals within.
Ai-ai -- Monkey bots that hang around in palm trees and very inconsiderately toss coconuts at Sonic as he passes by.
Stinger -- Wasp bots based on Beeton. They fly around and occasionally pause to fire a poorly-aimed flashing projectile.
Gabuccho -- Piranha bots based on Bata-bata. They hop up and down over waterfalls. ("Gabu-gabu" is Japanese for gulp or guzzle.)
Grabber -- Spider bots that glide along ceilings. If Sonic approaches underneath, Grabber will drop down and pluck the hapless hog from the ground, then self-destruct with his victim in tow.
Lander -- Slow-moving bots that crawl along the ground or wall and periodically spout flashing projectiles.
Handrill -- Mole bots loosely based on Mogurin. They bust out of cliffs in the background and roll along the ground.
Piranha -- Piranha bots that swim in place and lunge mindlessly at Sonic as soon as he approaches. Don't worry about them if they miss, because they aren't smart enough to swim back and try again.
Bun-bun -- Annoying horsefly bots that buzz around in Sonic's face. They're usually found in pairs. ("Bun-bun" is Japanese for buzz.)
Guardon -- Heavily-armed crab bots that can't be damaged from the front or above. The only way to take them out is to roll into them from behind.
Tsun-tsun -- Bots armed with pointy spiked shells. They crawl slowly along the ground or ceiling and fire their spiral shells straight upward (or downward), leaving them completely defenseless. ("Tsun-tsun" is Japanese for pointed.)
Zaura -- Plesiosaur bots that sit around in lava pits. Their heads bob around on top of their long, wobbly necks and fire projectiles, but it's safe to land on their round backs, which remain in the lava even after the head has been destroyed.
Gola -- These guys look and act just like Unidus, except they're armed with fireballs instead of spiked orbs.
Flasher -- Firefly bots that fly around and occasionally stop to light up for a few moments. They can't be damaged while lit.
Zakin -- Centipede bots found crammed in various platform corners. When Sonic approaches, they whip out to attack, then curl back in and try it again. Aim for the spherical noggin, Zakin's only weak point.
Octar -- Octopus bots that sit in place, then spin into the air to fire flashing projectiles.
Seadra -- Sea horse bots that hover around and fire oil balls. ("Seadra" is short for sea dragon.)
Telstar -- Kamikaze star bots that hover in place until Sonic approaches, then explode into a shower of spikes.
Kani Punch -- Fiddler crab bots that crawl slowly along the ground and attack with spring-loaded pincers. Since they're usually found in narrow passages that don't offer much jumping space, it's a difficult attack to avoid. ("Kani" is Japanese for crab.)
Kamakiller -- Mantis bots that waddle along the ground and pause to fling their sickle-like arms. The attack is nigh impossible to avoid, but once it's out of the way, the bots are immobile and completely defenseless. ("Kamakiri" is Japanese for mantis.)
Valkyn -- Sleek fighter plane bots that dash across the screen from right to left.
Potosu -- Well-armored bots that hover in midair, then rise and poop spiked balls when Sonic and Tails approach. ("Poto-poto" means to trickle down in thick drops.)
Dawson -- Little tortoise bots that stand on big tortoise bots. As long as the little one is around, he'll make the big one fire flashing projectiles. Destroy junior and poppa becomes a harmless platform.
Kokekko -- Chicken bots that dutifully man the Wing Fortress' artillery and fire egg bullets. They can only be destroyed from directly above. ("Kokekko" is the Japanese equivalent of cluck.)
Emerald Hill Zone -- This tropical resort is fast and straightforward. Slam into horizontal corkscrew bridges at max speed to defy gravity and spiral across. Caverns are laced with spikes, so exercise caution when leaping underground.
Boss -- Eggman hits the ground rolling as he tries to mow Sonic and/or Tails down with his drill mobile. He simply rolls back and forth along the ground, but after taking 6 hits, he'll fire the drill bit off like a projectile.
Chemical Plant Zone -- The factory is flooded with a neon pink chemical fluid - it's safe to swim in, but there are no air bubbles. Hop into a pipe for a quick ride to another part of the stage.
Boss -- Rotating panels line either side of the arena and chemical death lies below, leaving the middle platform as the only save haven. Eggman flies overhead and collects the poison fluid into a tub: when the container is full, he dumps the load onto the invading heroes.
Aquatic Ruin Zone -- These swampy ruins are halfway submerged. If you can keep high and dry, it's a piece of cake. Get wet, and the irritating underwater mechanics kick in. Ancient columns rise from the ground and obstruct your path: smash them with a spin. Eggman panels attached to the ruins fire arrows at Sonic as he passes by.
Boss-- Four-tiered totem poles rise from the ground at either end of the arena, while Eggman hovers about overhead with a giant hammer. He moves from side to side, whacking the tops of the totem poles with the mallet: upon being bopped, the totem will spit an arrow out of a random head. The arrow flies across the arena and gets jammed into the opposite pole, offering a platform with which to reach Eggman. Arrows fall off after a few seconds, so move with the haste.
Casino Night Zone -- This glitzy casino city forms a massive pinball board similar to Spring Yard. Bobbins are worth 10 points a bop up to 10 times for a total of 100 points. Green bumpers are worth 10 points a smack, but they disappear after 3 hits (chain them during their "red" phase after the second hit for 500 points a smack). Jump into the giant slot machines and try to line up three images in a row for a Ring bonus. Line up three Robotniks, however, and you get ambushed with bombs that subtract 100 Rings from your total. Hold down A, B, or C to build momentum in the Pinball Shooters, then release to catapult out at max speed.
Boss-- The arena is a small pinball table with Eggman smack in the middle. He hovers back and forth, but is guarded from below by electric pincers. As you pass underneath, he'll drop an exploding projectile or reach down and try to shock the hell out of you, so make your trips on the floor short and to the point. Spin Dash up the sides of the board to attack Eggman from above.
Hill Top Zone -- Destroy purple rocks for 100 points each, and burrow through soft earth to multiply the bonus. In the middle of Act 2, an earthquake shifts the landscape, forcing you to run through a cavern from boiling magma or rising crust, depending on which part of the stage you're in.
Boss -- Eggman cranks up the heat in his lava sub. He pops out long enough to blast Sonic/Tails with a flame thrower and set the ground on fire, but the window of opportunity to inflict damage is small.
Mystic Cave Zone -- You're at the mercy of the machinery in this rather spacious underground cavern. Hang onto vines for a lift or a quick change of scenery. Be careful not to get squished around the rotating crates.
Boss -- Eggman's outfitted his flying mobile with twin drills that he uses to burrow into the roof of the cave, triggering small earthquakes that shake out debris and spikes.
Oil Ocean Zone -- This massive refinery is constructed atop an ocean of petroleum. Sink in the crude and you'll lose a life, but you can skim the surface by constantly tapping the jump button. Push green buttons into the wall, then release for a springy boost.
Boss-- The arena consists of two raised platforms and a pool of petroleum. Every once in a while, Eggman peeks out from the oil: be quick, because he doesn't stay out for long. While submerged, he'll attack with one of two attachments: a claw sickle that whips out in a curved arc over the platform, or a laser gun that fires three beams before returning to the depths. If one of the laser beams hits the platform, it'll sweep the surface.
Metropolis Zone -- This massive Zone is the only stage in Sonic 2 with three full Acts. The air chutes from Scrap Brain are back, and giant rotating tunnels present a new obstacle. Time your jumps when hopping along copper blocks to avoid getting a spear rammed up your blue butt. Run right to ascend and left to descend on screw platforms.
Boss -- Eggman's mobile becomes the axis for a rotating ring of 7 egg pods. Each time you manage to squeeze a hit in between the pods, one of them breaks away and morphs into a false Eggman. The false Eggmen pop after a single hit, but when they collect on screen they can become a fatal distraction. Once all seven pods have been destroyed, Eggman dashes to one side of the arena and strafes the screen with giant laser blasts.
Sky Chase Zone -- Eggman's escaping to the friendly skies, so Sonic and Tails give chase in the Tornado. Your character rides the wings while the secondary character pilots. No matter where you move, your partner will be sure to catch you, so don't worry about falling (but don't try to Spin Dash). Do worry about the formations of aerial enemies that scroll by. It's not easy to grab back lost Rings, so a single hit can spell doom. Sky Chase has only one Act and no boss.
Wing Fortress Zone -- Big-ass lasers knock the Tornado out of the sky as it approaches the fortress. The character on the wings leaps onto the flying citadel while the unfortunate pilot goes down with the ship. Eggman's aerial base is loaded with nasty contraptions, but the biggest danger frequently proves to be falling off the screen. You can grab a lift on giant fans or a quick dash on the aircraft accelerators. Wing Fortress only has one act.
Boss -- Laser walls trap Sonic/Tails in a small arena with a giant laser blaster that glides along the ceiling. The blaster occasionally pauses to open up its laser eye and charge up a huge blast that sweeps the arena. The blaster can only be damaged during this brief charge phase, but it lies just out of reach. However, careening precariously around the arena are a trio of tiny platforms which can be used for a boost. Just be wary of the undersides, which are covered quite thoroughly in sharp spikes. Clear this boss and Eggman escapes to space, but fortunately, it seems Tails (or Sonic) has not only repaired the Tornado, but fitted it with a rocket engine adequate for stratospheric travel.
Death Egg Zone -- There's not a Ring in sight in Eggman's celestial fortress, home to the 2 most difficult bosses in the game.
Sub-boss -- The robot doppelganger zips across the arena: sometimes he rolls along the ground, sometimes he leaps, sometimes he fires off spikes, and sometimes he just dashes upright. Don't mess with his razor spin - time your attacks to land when he's on his feet. He's a tough monkey, but he'll go down after the usual 8 hits.
Boss -- The giant robot lumbers slowly around the arena, but the lower half of said monstrosity is invulnerable. The only way Sonic/Tails can reach the breakable upper half is to wait for the right moment. After trudging around for a bit, Eggman rockets off the top of the screen, causing a target to appear over your character. When the target begins flashing, get the hell out of the way because the giant egg bot is about to come crashing down. Immediately after landing, the machine lurches forward presenting the only safe opportunity to attack. But take heed: every other fall, he'll fire off his spiked arms which are nigh impossible to avoid unless you're out of reach. Also, be sure to never get stuck behind the egg mech, or it'll send a barrage of mini egg bombs in your general direction, more or less ensuring your death. The Death Egg takes 12 hits to defeat.
Collect all seven Chaos Emeralds as Sonic and you earn the ability to transform into Super Sonic. Collect 50 Rings and leap in the air to do the transformation thang, where you change from a mild-mannered blue hedgehog into a blazing yellow speed demon faster than a speeding bullet and capable of leaping tall Eggmen in a single bound. As Super Sonic, you are faster, able to jump higher, and invulnerable to all attacks except getting squished or falling off the screen. The catch is that you are also a Ring guzzler. You need 50 Rings to transform, and once you do, the Rings are juiced out of your tally one by one. Keep a steady supply coming in, because if the count hits zero, it's back to plain blue Sonic.
Despite the success of Sonic 1, not all were happy within the Sonic Team studio. Lead programmer Yuji Naka, frustrated over Sega's seniority-based salary policy, left the company. Mark Cerny, product manager at Sega of America and a personal friend of Naka's, convinced the apostate programmer to fly over to the states and join the newly established Sega Technical Institute. Cerny had founded STI as a sort of training ground where Sega's green American developers could learn tricks of the trade from the more experienced Japanese staff. The division was cofounded by Sonic 1 director Hirokazu Yasuhara who was already in place at the new studio. With two of the most influential Sonic 1 developers in his camp, Cerny proposed a Sonic sequel to the company executives. The initial response was a no, as Sega felt it was too early for a sequel to a game that was still pulling in big money at retail. However, just as Cerny and co had begun working on an unrelated project, Sega turned around and requested that the Sonic sequel be developed after all. STI thus began development of Sonic 2 two months behind schedule.
As with the creation of Sonic himself, an internal competition was held to come up with a new sidekick character. The most popular entry was Yasushi Yamaguchi's sketch of a young two-tailed fox. Yamaguchi really wanted his character to be called Miles, but he was overruled and Sonic's new buddy ended up as "Tails". Discontent, Yamaguchi sneaked the name "Miles" into much of the game's background art and in the end he won a compromise: Sonic's aspiring young friend was officially named Miles "Tails" Prower ("Tails" being the character's nickname).