Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Looks like they've goosed the colour saturation on that screenshot a bit...
After what seemed like an eternity, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 finally arrived on Tuesday November 24, 1992. "Sonic 2sday", as it was called, marked the first time Sega had made a media event out of one of their games' release dates, a technique which has become commonplace in today's market.
Sonic 2 alters the first game's formula in several interesting ways. The most immediately noticeable change is the inclusion of Tails, Sonic's fox-like "little buddy" who follows him through each stage and helps dispatch some of Robotnik's evil creations. In addition to Sonic's new partner, Sonic 2 also adds a bit more variety to the proceedings by having only two stages of play per zone (as opposed to three in the original game), with each zone bringing forth a dazzling array of new graphics.
And the graphics are dazzling indeed. Sega really outdid themselves with Sonic 2's visuals, from the twisting corkscrew loops early in the game to the "3D" special stages wherein Sonic and Tails race down a luge-like track in pursuit of the much coveted Chaos Emeralds. There is even a split screen two player mode which makes use of a software trick that allows the Genesis system to double its vertical resolution and display two complete game screens at once!
There are some who feel that Sonic 2 isn't as challenging as the first game, but I've always thought that the added speed and variety more than make up for any of the game's shortcomings. I do get the feeling, however, that development of Sonic 2 must have been a bit rushed to make it out for the November 24th release date. The game suffers from periodic glitches which can cause it to freeze up, for example, and the "Hidden Palace Zone" was dropped out of the game entirely at the last minute for reasons unknown.
Nevertheless, Sonic 2 could have spelt doom for Sega if it had failed in any way to live up to the reputation of its forerunner, but thankfully it turned out to be every bit as good as the series deserved and a much needed shot in the arm for the Genesis library.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 won Video Games & Computer Entertainment's "Video Game of the Year" award in their "Best Games of 1992" feature.
"Behind all of the hype, hoopla and holograms, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still a stunning game - quite possibly the finest Genesis cartridge ever released."
- Chris Bieniek, VG&CE December 1992
"No Genesis would be complete without Sonic 2! ... Highly intense backgrounds, awesome tunes, and wild levels are everything I have come to expect from a worthy sequel for Sonic!"
- Sushi-X, EGM December 1992