Play or Pass: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!

Week eighteen: (23) Sonic the Hedgehog 2


Well…this just isn’t my month, is it? Because here’s another Mario Kart situation. And it’s only with slightly less embarrassment that I must admit that I’ve never played a Sonic game.  Though, I don’t feel quite as terrible about it, for you see, I grew up in a Nintendo household.

In the pantheon of “versus” battles, Coke vs. Pepsi, pizza vs. hamburgers, french fries vs. tater tots (sorry, I’m hungry), there also exists the one that dominated my formative years: Nintendo vs. Sega. And at the time, because money is money and the consoles and games were relatively expensive, if your family was into gaming, your folks were likely to only get you either the NES or the Sega Genesis. Why mine picked the NES, I don’t know, but they did, and so Mario was my guide away from Atari and into the grand world of spritely, 8-bit adventures.  In the span of about a year, a number of my gaming friends also adopted the NES. Not a single one that I knew had a Sega Genesis. Of course, through the school’s halls I heard that other people had the Genesis, but they were not my friends. I simply didn’t have any regular access to the Sonic games. And it was really only through television and magazine ads that I knew they even existed.

It probably didn’t help that the Play or Pass specimen this week, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, came out when I was in high school – a time when I had started to move away from “kiddy” Mario games and into more “adult” PC gaming. (Not that my prejudices spoke volumes, Super Metroid and Super Mario 64 were just around the corner, after all.) But even by then, I only knew of one acquaintance who had a Genesis, and it’s not like we were on enough of a common ground to swap consoles. Plus, Nintendo had quite firmly taken root in my house by the mid 1990s, so it the chances of Sonic invading the castle were particularly slim.

All this comes down to the fact that I just don’t have much to say about Sonic the Hedgehog, game #2 or otherwise. I understand that it wouldn’t take too much time out of my life to try a Sonic game now, but I don’t hold onto any associated guilty (like with Mario Kart) in not doing so. I think I’d enjoy Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in principle (I do like going fast in games), but I don’t feel any reason to put that into practice at the moment. Someday, maybe.

Have I played the Sonic the Hedgehog 2?

If yes, then do I consider it a “must?”
Tell me, good people of Sega fandom, what’s your favorite Sonic game and why?

If no, then do I want to play the game before I die?
Thanks, but I’ll pass. Unless the day comes when I don’t.



  1. Sonic 2 is my wife’s all time favorite game. It’s one of the best on the Sega Genesis, but I don’t blame you for never playing it. Super Mario ruled the 90’s and I was glad that I could pass the experience I had in Super Mario on to my kids on the Wii U. If you ever get around to playing a Sonic game I think you might like Sonic 2. It’s a great game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a good, long while since I’ve gotten bit by the platforming bug, particularly with retro games. But Sonic 2 does sound like it’s too fun to pass up. When to mood strikes, I’ll have to at least give it a try. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonic 2 is my favourite Sonic game, and I definitely agree with its appearance on the “before you die” list. In the UK the Megadrive seemed to be everywhere at time (by comparison I only know of two people who ever owned a SNES) so I played a LOT of Sonic at friends’ homes growing up. The games are by no means perfect, but I love returning to Sonic 2. The others are good to varying degrees: Sonic 1 starts strong but gets quickly bogged down in tough platforming and loses momentum by the second stage. Sonic 3 is fine but too easy because you can save – it cheapens the experience for me somehow. The levels aren’t memorable since you never need to repeat them, just beat them once and move on. Sonic and Knuckles (as Red Metal alluded to this is basically the second half of Sonic 3) is unpleasantly difficult. I’ve watched a relative beat it, which was great, but it’s not something I want to play myself. Sonic CD I just tried recently and it’s weird – really weird.

    Back to Sonic 2 though: I’ve never been able to beat it as it becomes so difficult in the later areas – things can be going smoothly till you hit a tricky obstacle, die a few times and it’s game over. One of the things that makes it so good to go back to is the variety of strategies you can use: you can race through levels quickly aiming for a high score in order to gain extra continues, you can go through the stages slowly and methodically for rings to earn extra lives, or you can sacrifice both to go to the special bonus stages and collect chaos emeralds. Usually I don’t have a strategy (or I have one and then don’t consistently apply it) and end up doing whatever – then I regret it in the final few stages of the game where it gets super tough.

    I’m not sure if a newcomer would enjoy the early Sonic games now after so long and without the social aspect/cultural buzz, but I would still recommend Sonic 2 to anyone probably. If nothing else it’s an iconic series, and there’s an incredible, undeniable charm to it. Despite never owning a Megadrive as a child, the music, the characters, the enemies, and the animations of Sonic captured my imagination in a way few things ever did – and I’m not just talking about games.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s quite an ode to Sonic. 🙂 But I have similar feelings towards the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. Once a supremely memorable character enters one’s psyche, it easily takes root. From what you say, Sonic 2 does sound like it has a leg up in terms of the franchise’s early titles. (Though, I do like save points, and I don’t mind never having to return to levels, so Sonic 3 might be the better game for a grizzled newcomer like me.) It is too bad that Sonic never really evolved properly into modern games a la Mario — then again, it’s not so much that Mario’s evolved, he just looks better, I suppose.

      So Sonic 2 (and 3) is on the ol’ to-play list. It’s still a “pass” for the immediate future, but everyone here made a very strong case for the game. That’s really cool too. With everyone talking about VR-this and Scorpio-that, it’s easy to forget that we’d never be here if it hadn’t been for pioneering games like Sonic. Nice to know that gaming’s past is still very much alive for many.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, from what I remember Sonic 3 is probably the best for a newcomer. The music in 3 is also extremely good, and if you’re a fan of Michael Jackson in his heyday it’s worth checking out the soundtrack; MJ only wrote a few pieces in the game but the other composers did a great job of imitating his style.

        It is a real shame that Sonic lost what made it so good at its core. Then again there’s an argument that the Mario games lost what was at their core – but it was replaced by something else worthwhile in the 3D games. And lest we forget, classic 2D Mario went away for a long time! I would be happy to see Sonic return to form for the fans, but the current state of things doesn’t bother me. The old games are enough for me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Poor Sonic…it’s too bad that he ended up in a mix of great and terrible games.(Then again, not every Mario games is a total winner either.) Shoutout again to Sonic 3! When I come back round to platform games, I’ll definitely have to give either 2 or 3 a shot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m working on a sonic article at the moment, and it is sad how many terrible games there are to good games. Imagine for every good Mario there were 3 Mario is Missings.

        Mario has some stinkers, but the good outweighs the bad. Not sure if spinoffs count though.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I was also a Nintendo kid, as Mr. Panda put it, but I had a neighbor who had the three Sonic games and we played them to death together. Sonic 2 is the best of the bunch in my humble opinion. You should definitely give it a shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was nothing like growing up with neighbors who had game systems that you didn’t! 🙂 Like you said, it just made it so easy to experience games that you otherwise might not have played.

      I’ll have to spend some time with Sonic someday. If Sega ever happened to release a mini Genesis (like the mini NES) that’d be a strong contender for purchase.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like Red Metal I prefer Sonic 3 & Knuckles. All the older Sonic games are fun though. Shame that most people won’t check them out, as younger gamers will associate the series with the rubbish new releases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have read that the newer Sonic games aren’t very good. That’s unfortunate as the original iterations of the games were second to none for the fans.

      Ans that’s another upvote for Sonic 3…hmm, something to keep in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Growing up, I’m glad that I was a Nintendo kid as opposed to Sega. I like Sega’s games now, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 doesn’t come even close to matching the timelessness and fun of Super Mario World. Maybe if I had more nostalgia for Sonic’s games, I’d love Sonic 2 the most too. As it is now, I merely think it’s a pretty good game that just hasn’t necessarily held up as well as it could.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must agree with you about Super Mario World — there’s really just no equal! It’s still amazingly enjoyable to play even after all these years. But having no Sonic experience to which to compare it, it’s not like I’m completely biased or anything. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A lot of fans say Sonic 2 is the best game in the series, but personally, I think the complete version of Sonic 3 has an edge over it, as it features more levels and allows players to save between zones. I’d say Sonic 2 is a game worthy of a playthrough when you get the chance, though. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to get a copy – even if you don’t own a Sega console

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite true; it’s not very hard to get one’s hands on older games these days. But thanks for the note about Sonic 3. Should I come round to getting to know Sonic better one of these days, I’ll keep that in mind. I watched a few videos of Sonic 2, and it does look like quite a lot of fun.

      Liked by 1 person

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