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Poor ol' Sonic sometimes feels like the video game equivalent of a child actor. He blasted onto the scene in his youth, becoming a huge multimedia star and the darling of the industry, with a hugely successful comic, several animated series, and the true measure of success, his own canned pasta. Then he went through a very awkward 3D puberty, and things have never been quite the same since. From the horrifying lows of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 and Sonic and the Black Knight to the enjoyable highs of Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors, he's become a veritable poster child for inconsistent quality. Even his many, many spin-offs vary greatly in this way, with some recent great racing games under his belt being off-set by mediocre cash-ins like his Olympic team-ups with Mario. Remember that time he was in an RPG from the makers of Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic? Man, what a guy.

At least we can count on the classics, though. New adventures might be gambles, but when we load up a good old 16-bit Sonic, we know it's going to be fine, or so you would think. Unfortunately, even that couldn't be counted upon. Both awful re-made versions, like Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis for Game Boy Advance, and not-so-hot emulations, like the original versions of the first two Sonic games on iOS, have popped up here and there, making it so you can't even trust the past. There is, however, one thing about Sonic the Hedgehog that is extremely consistent: the fans of the character. Sometimes off-beat, sometimes downright scary, but most of all, dedicated in a way few other fanbases can match, they've stuck by Sonic and SEGA through the good times and a whole lot of bad, contributing art, stories, romhacks, and many other things.

Although they stood by the character, you could often feel the frustration pouring off them. It got so bad that one fan, by the name of Christian Whitehead, presumably decided that telling SEGA to do things better wasn't enough. He was going to show them how to do it better. Creating his own engine called the Retro Engine, he set about remaking Sonic CD in a way only a huge fan could. When he showed his work to SEGA, not only did they not shut him down with Amy Rose's Legal Hammer, they decided to make it official. Christian Whitehead's remake of Sonic CD [$2.99] released in 2011 on various platforms, and boy, was it something else. If you want to see how we at TouchArcade felt about it, feel free to do a little time traveling and come back, but suffice it to say, it not only showed tremendous respect to the source material, it also made several inobtrusive improvements on it.

Shame we were stuck with those badly emulated versions of the first two 16-bit games, though. The fans made no bones about wanting to see the original games get this star treatment, but nobody really knew if Christian Whitehead's official involvement with Sonic was a one-off or an on-going thing until earlier this year, when SEGA announced at GDC that a remake of Sonic the Hedgehog [$2.99] using the Retro Engine would be hitting iOS and Android. Joining Christian Whitehead this time was another famous member of the fan community, Simon Thomley, who had worked on the well-known mod of Sonic called Sonic Megamix. As a bonus for iOS gamers who had already paid for the original app, this complete remake was delivered as an update to the existing app. We didn't do an official review here at TouchArcade, but it was every bit as impressive a remake as Sonic CD, and then some.

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This brings us to the latest game to benefit from the work of this Dream Team, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [$2.99]. Like the first game, the original Sonic 2 app suffered from a lot of problems, including sound issues, slowdown, poor virtual controls, and a windowed play area. Options were cut from the original version, and it even had some seriously long stretches of time where it crashed constantly. The game that many have such fond memories of still shone through where it could, but it was certainly a disappointment to see such a major touchstone of gaming history given that kind of slipshod treatment. Well, it's probably not a surprise, but all is right in the world of Mobius once more. Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley have done their magic, and what was once a half-hearted ROM dump is now a beautiful, fully-featured, blazing fast version of a great classic, delivered as a free update to the original app.

Although it would be more than sufficient if it were the case, this is not merely a perfect 60 fps version of the original game. Just like with the remake of the first game, Tails and Knuckles have been added as fully playable characters with their ability sets from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This isn't the first time we've officially been able to use these characters in Sonic 2, but having Tails fully implemented with his flying ability is a first. Sonic can also have Tails pick him up as he can in Sonic 3, so be careful, or you might get helped to death. All characters are selectable at the beginning of the game, so you don't need to clear it or anything to unlock your favorite. Some changes have been made to the levels to allow for more interesting paths for these new characters, so even veterans will have new things to find.

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Of course, that's not even the best bit. You see, Sonic 2 has many interesting legends surrounding it, thanks to some early screenshots in magazines and some recovered prototypes. A number of levels planned for the game had to be cut for it to make its vital Christmas season release date. A scant few of these levels actually had any assets created for them, and just two of them existed in anything approaching playable form: the Wood Zone and the Hidden Palace Zone. Over the years, many fans have created their interpretations of these cut levels. The Hidden Palace Zone received a lot of attention, owing to the many screenshots of it found in magazines and advertisements. It was apparently cut from Sonic 2 at a very late stage, and was meant to be a one act zone that transitioned Sonic to Super Sonic.

Well, the Hidden Palace Zone is finally an official reality, though it differs in some ways from fan expectations and its original planned usage. Living up to its name, this single act zone is something you'll have to seek out, as it's not part of the regular stage progression. I'm not going to spoil where it is, but it's somewhere most Sonic 2 players have taught themselves to never go. It's a gorgeous stage, with lots of great effects, and it features a completely original boss fight with Robotnik at the end. The layout is quite different from the prototype versions, and while many fans would expect it to use the unused "No. 10" song from the sound test mode, it actually uses the tune from the two-player version of the Mystic Cave Zone. It's a fun stage with some new enemies and obstacles, and it's pretty crazy to be playing it in an official capacity.

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The bonus stages have been completely recreated in 3D, which is nice because they were some kind of pixelated ugly in their original form. The game itself has full support for all shapes and sizes of screens, and the virtual controls are greatly improved. Apparently, iCade support is coming in the next update, and with any luck, we'll see support for MFi controllers in the future. This version of Sonic 2 also has all of the options and many of the same secrets as the remaster of the first game, so make sure to try them out. One new option that doesn't work quite so well as the rest is the online two-player mode. It's the versus mode from the original Sonic 2, but, at least when I tried it, I had no end of problems getting a game going without it dropping or crashing. I imagine there will be fixes for this, but at the moment, it's a bit of a mess.

All these words, and I haven't talked about the original game itself. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the sequel to SEGA's breakout hit, and it took the series to a whole new level. With a new spin-dash move that allowed Sonic to generate momentum from a standstill, a larger assortment of zones, and the introduction of Tails and Super Sonic, it's the favorite Sonic game of many gamers. Pound for pound, I prefer Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but Sonic 2 is still an incredible game that demonstrates Sonic Team's skill at what might have been their height. Since we don't have Sonic 3 & Knuckles on iOS yet (HINT HINT SEGA), this is, in my opinion, the best game in the series available for iOS.

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If you already have the original version of the Sonic 2 app, you just need to update to gain access to this beautiful remaster. If you don't have it, you should get it now. This is as of now the definitive version of this game available on any platform, and it's easily one of the best platform games available on iOS. The only real knocks I've got on it are the issues with the two-player mode and the minor issues that occur from using virtual controls. Whether you're here for the nostalgia or simply to experience one of the better games of the genre, you'll be well taken care of by Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Remastered. To SEGA, Christian Whitehead, and Simon Thomley, congratulations on a job well-done, and... you know what you have to do next, right?

TouchArcade Rating

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  • PandionDan

    Thank you SEGA. Now if only Nintendo would get with the program.

    • Fraz@TA

      Classic 16bit Nintendo games will never come to iOS.

    • Mike

      Nintendo is competing with mobile. SEGA is not.

      • Deixa

        If Nintendo bought out ONE old game for example Mario land on the gameboy, they probably would make more money than all the wii's they sold

      • Taylor Calderone

        And they would never sell a 3DS again.

      • Mike

        Exactly

      • Holcman

        Because selling an old Gameboy game that was never on the 3DS will definitely drop their sales -.-

      • Edwin Ramirez

        Nintendo knows that software sells hardware. If they sell games on iOS then no one would buy their hardware.

      • Chris Brady

        Nintendo likes to think it's competing with Mobile, you mean. It's not a contest. They're not even in the running. And I'm speaking as the proud new owner (and yeah, love it, awesome toy!) of a 2DS.

      • Mike

        Doesn't matter what you think they think. They have a business strategy, and letting their property loose on mobile platforms is not an option. So, I stick to my earlier comment, thanks.

      • Deixa

        Well their strategy is losing them money. PS4 and Xbox made more money in 24 hours than Wii in a hole year. I think they need to re think their strategy

      • ZarieoZ

        History is full of companies/people who failed cause they were never able to adopt to the changes & their surroundings, paradox. Yeah you are right, selling their software on other platforms will make them lose in the hardware department..... While they aren't really losing now, they are not winning either, in fact they are waaaay behind all of their competitors. So yeah, they have a strategy, I respect that & most of the times this strategy is what made Nintendo... Well the memorable Nintendo. But when things change, such big companies should be smart enough to predict them before they even happen & act upon that. I just hope they won't wait till they are late to the game & regret it.... Like what happened to Microsoft & it's failure to launch in the tablets department. They just didn't predict it & when it happened they were two years late to the game (cause they couldn't change & couldn't accept it) & when they decided to put their toes in the water... They crashed & burned, now i only see their tablets in movies as sponsors, never with real people.

      • Inaba-kun

        You need only compare a new 3DS game like Zelda of Bravely Default to see how Nintendo has no interest in competing with mobile. The quality level is enormously higher for Nintendo, and they price things to pay for that.

      • curtisrshideler

        And Nintendo is missing out on getting hundreds from me. Times that by hundreds of thousands and you get the picture. I will NEVER buy a dedicated handheld gaming device ever again. If I can't play it on my phone, I won't play it period. They'll eventually get there by either getting into phones or finally producing mobile titles.

      • curtisrshideler

        But SEGA has done some absolutely brilliant things on mobile and they remind me why I sold my NES to get a Genesis in the first place!

  • Ramaz1234

    Good article I will be picking this one up for sure.

  • cobbyco

    Spoiler:
    The 7 Chaos Emeralds ending suggests Sonic 3 (and Knuckles) will be remastered soon.

  • angel841

    I had used the logitech and moga mfi controllers at best buy, and I can confirm that at least the logitech worked very well with sonic 2.

  • Dorfdad

    I don't get why this is fun for IOS? I mean I tired playing the original Sonic released a while back but its too fast and too small for me. Is there some trick to slowing it down for mobile?? I know its meant to be a fast paced game but on the small screen it's hard.

    • nini

      I'm finding it hard to play a lot of games on the teeny tiny iPhone of mine and prefer handing that sort of thing to the iPad. That is of course if you have both, not many do but gaming for me is several times less frustrating on a bigger screen.

    • zergslayer69

      Sonic was always marketed as the "fast" game when it was going against Mario. This is the speed it should be at. As for small screen, well not much you can do on current phones, iPad is your best bet to enjoy this game then.

    • Inaba-kun

      The sad truth is that Sonic was never that great a game, and virtual controls only make that worse.

      • KK m

        I LIKE the virtual controls! They're more than just managable.

  • jstein360

    The Christian Whitehead/SEGA story is still such an awesome story in video game land. And seeing the amazing games that have come out of it now is so fantastic.

    Loving Sonic 2, which is my favorite of all Sonic games (mostly because it is my first memory of any video game).

    • JJE McManus

      Sonic was the reason I bought my first Genesis. So, there's that.
      Honestly though, the more hands-off Sega is with the Retro Engine product the happier I will be.

  • free2play4eva

    Come on Sega make it free...a few timers and some IAP's and we are talking!!!!

    • cobbyco

      God I hope you're trolling...

      • themostunclean

        He's been trolling around here for a while now. All he does is comment under every article how that game should be free. So in any case, he's a complete moron and a loser with no life.

      • dariusjr98

        His username is a dead giveaway... C'mon guys.

  • paulf58

    Love it. My fav sega game and one of my fav old games. The boss rush mode is also a cool addition.

    I hope sonic 1&2 also make it to steam for those who can't use virtual controls. Personally I get along with them just fine, already finished one play through just fine with zero control issues

  • themostunclean

    I'd like to give a standing ovation to the author for using that awesome Quantum Leap reference in the title if the article. My favorite show when I was little!

  • Kane

    Nice article, bought the game! Now I hope SEGA give Taxman & Stealth work to remaster the - Streets of Rage series. If that ever happens... I'll punch my own face because of disbelief and excitement; I might even have a spazm attack.

  • Chris Brady

    "Although they stood by the character, you could often feel the frustration pouring off them."

    Kinda like Nintendo fans.

  • Kane

    Eh.. Rating was 5 stars half hour ago.. Changed mind?

    • ZarieoZ

      It's still 5 for me, you have a rare bug or something on the TA app, usually TA sorts it out quickly.

  • shieldser99

    Anyone know how to get the hidden palace zone and boss battle?

    • KK m

      Ever heard of the Mystic Cave spikes bottomless pit?

  • shieldser99

    Also there's no D pad on the title screen to do the level select cheat

    • nini

      Were you around for the other Retro Engine games? There'll be stuff like that, just different ways to get at them from before.

    • Zerol3onheart

      Tap the S E G A when the game starts out, and you'll hear a ring sound. Then, hold two thumbs on the screen until the title opening with sonic and tails starts, don't stop pressing, and then it'll automatically go to the cheat screen. 4,1,2,6 in the sound test is for Super Sonic at the start after collecting 50 rings. I never forgot this code from when I was a kid.

      • KK m

        You forgot to mention the No Save Mode part. And Debug is 1-9-9-2-1-1-2-4. That's the American (and I think European as well) release date

  • LiberachiX

    Why just 3 stars?

    • ZarieoZ

      It's 5 stars not 3. Just recheck in a few hours maybe it's a bug.

      • LiberachiX

        It's 5 now but said 3 earlier

  • Boobi

    5 stars nice! Grats Sega. Looks like christian whitehead and tom remakes are superb. Now I want golden axe. :)

  • Jutto

    It is good to see that sega released a free update for this. Now if only I could get a controller for a 4S. Perhaps this is time to upgrade to a 5S. Had very fond memories of sonic, now I know I'm not the only one waiting for S3&K.

    • falco

      Buy a iPad Its much better for gaming

  • Mark DeNardo

    Lol. This is probably the only game to be reviewed twice by TA. The app page still has the 3 stars review.

    Sega should put Mr. Whitehead to task and have him "fix" their other iOS ports. I really want Shinobi, Space Harrier, an Phantasy Star II to not suck.

    • nini

      I'm still waiting for a good Gunstar Heroes port.

  • Inaba-kun

    A great port for sure, but revisiting Sonic 2, to me, shows what a patchy game it always was. Some levels are great, but several, including the Chemical Factory and Casino zones are tedious and very dull.

    Sonic CD remains my favourite Sonic game by some margin. Even that though,has it's own lower quality levels.

    I think ultimately the way Sonic was compared side by side with Mario makes no sense with the benefit of hindsight. Mario is a vastly superior game and series, no matter how much attitude and marketing Sonic had.

    • NinjaKitteh

      Sonic CD was always my favorite as well. It was the soundtrack for me. It's still living into iTunes on my phone to this day. Mario was always the better playing game...but Sonic CD has a soundtrack that to this day blazes over most other gaming soundtracks.

  • Adams Immersive

    Great to see ongoing iCade support. For some games, iCade is the perfect control scheme.

  • http://www.avault.com Saulo Benigno

    All the sonic app links on iTunes lead to Sonic Episode 2 Lite, is it broken?

  • http://youtube.com/axelhander Carlos Alexandre

    Have this on my nvidia shield. It's awesome.

  • Natalie Hollyfield

    Can you emulate this on the Gen's emulator?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 5