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This is No Downgrade - Sonic 2 (Master System) Review
The Master System version of the original Sonic the Hedgehog stayed true to the blueprint of the initial game. There were fewer loops and the game was a tad slower, but it still retained the worlds and themes of the original. For this reason, many gamers might wave off downloading the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Well, for those of you who think Sonic 2 on the Master System is just a low-res version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Genesis, think again. This is a completely different game, with completely different stages, and a completely different story, and fans of the platform genre should download Sonic 2 on the Virtual Console.
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Sonic 2 (Master System) Storyline
The premise of Sonic 2 is entirely different than that of its Genesis counterpart. Sonic’s two-tailed buddy, Miles “Tails" Prower, is featured here as well, but in a much different manner. Rather than running behind Sonic and helping him take down Dr. Robotnik, Tails is actually the center of a ransom by Sonic’s nemesis. It is up to the Blue Blur to seek out all six Chaos Emeralds and deliver them to Robotnik so Tails can be set free.
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Sonic 2 (Master System) Gameplay
The Master System version of Sonic 2 plays differently than the popular Genesis version. Truth be told, this version of the game feels more like a conventional platformer in that the pace is a lot slower than other games in the series. Regardless of that fact, however, Sonic 2 still manages to retain a sense of speed that isn’t seen in many platformers of its time, albeit at a much lower level when compared to Sonic 2 on the Genesis.
One of the ways in which the game manages to keep the series’ fast pace alive is in its level design and features. While there aren’t any loop-de-loops here, there are a lot of steep hills that Sonic runs down, and there are even some mine cart stages that carry their own sense of speed as well as hang gliding stages that change things up a bit.
Sadly, there are a few notable omissions in this version of Sonic 2. For starters, there’s no Spin Dash here. So if you want Sonic to go fast, you’ll have to do so the old-fashioned way. Second, if Sonic gets hit by an enemy, he won’t be able to collect his fallen rings. If he collects a lot and takes damage, only one or two rings bounce around for Sonic to grab. These are minor gripes, but they’re elements that can’t help but be missed.
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Graphics and Sound
Because the Master System was an aging console at the time of Sonic 2’s release, it’s normal not to expect much from the game’s visuals. Still, the game manages to use up all of its eight bits to cram some nice color variation and great level design into this package. The music is also enjoyable, and while it has a more archaic sound than any of the Sonic games on the Genesis, it still sounds good, and the themes are catchy and fun to listen to.
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Sonic 2 features seven zones with three acts each. The first two acts are standard levels where Sonic must take down Badniks and collect rings, and the final act is a boss battle. There are no rings to be found in these boss stages, so you’ll have to be at your best if you want to defeat the game’s more challenging Badniks.
The only way you’ll be able to take on Dr. Robotnik in the last level of the game is if you collect all six Chaos Emeralds. This warrants a bit of exploration, because the Chaos Emeralds can’t be found in bonus stages. Instead, they’re hidden throughout the game’s regular acts, so if you’re planning on getting the good ending, you’re going to have to work for it. Luckily, this only adds to the game’s replay value, and at 500 Wii Points ($5), you’re getting a solid game with some decent lasting value.
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Sonic 2 (Master System) Overall Score
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Master System never gained the amount of popularity that its Genesis counterpart did, and it’s a shame, too, because this is a great entry in the series, and one that both Sonic die-hards and platform gamers could easily enjoy. If you’ve overlooked this title in the past because you think it’s a downgrade of the better-known version, forget that stigma, head over to the Master System section on the Wii Shop Channel, and download Sonic 2 right now.