Sunday, June 23, 2013

Editorial: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the Personality of the Level

A buddy came over last weekend for a kickback, old-school sleepover with pizza, video games, and general nerd discussion. (The only difference is instead of drinking Mountain Dew, we drank beer.)

When he saw that I had several Genesis classics on PSN, he demanded we boot them up. 

First up was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My buddy is a Sonic fiend. He's one of those few people that have been able to forgive the countless terrible games featuring our favorite blue mascot. He's one of those mythological people that get excited before every Sonic game that comes out.  

I have a soft spot for the first three Sonic games on the Genesis, but I drifted apart from the chili dog eating animal after the Genesis. 

There are sections of the game I vividly remember. The beautiful first zone, Emerald Hill, bouncing off the flippers in Casino Night Zone, and the frustrating Shoots and Ladders of the Oil Ocean Zone. 

And then there are the ones I always forget about, not because they are lesser zones, but they were the ones I didn't have to play as much or they didn't cause me to throw my controller at the TV. It had been so long since I'd played Sonic 2, that when we came to Aquatic Ruin, Hill Top, or that damned Metropolis Zone, it was like seeing the game for the first time again. 

I was amazed at how varied each zone was. It's something missing from games today. Gears of War and Call of Duty are filled with the same brown and gray hues for the entire 10 hour campaign. 

In Sonic 2, each Zone has a personality, its own music and enemies. You came to know the new difficulties that awaiting in each area. It was handy when talking about the new secret you found on the playground to reference the lava river in Hill Top Zone or the bottomless pit in Mystic Cave. I can't say, "oh, there's a dog tag hidden in the ruined city, with all the cement and dust when the locusts attack," because that's the entire game. 

It took maybe 15 minutes for my buddy to get to the Winged Fortress, where hundreds of times I gave up on the game in my childhood.

We didn't beat it Saturday night. It might have been because we did not have a Genesis controller so the muscle memory was just slightly off. It might have just been the 7 beers we each had already. But Dr. "Eggman" Robotnic would continue to hold the last Chaos Emeralds. 

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