18 years later and it’s time for another Sonic 2sday! This time on iPhone and iPod Touch.
SEGA have released Sonic the Hedgehog 2, considered by many as the best of the series. Giving even Mario a run for his money, and boosting sales of the MegaDrive/Genesis the world over. Technically the game came out first for the Master System, but only in Europe and parts of South America, and so to most the 16bit version is the definitive version… and the game we see emulated here on iPhone and iPod Touch.
Once again you are on a quest to rescue cute critters from the clutches of the evil Dr Eggman, by speeding your way through multi-platformed levels, navigating loop the loops, spin attacking foes and reaching the level goal. There are 11 zones in all, each culminating in a showdown with Eggman in his latest Hedgehog killing machine.
Sonic 2 betters the first game in almost every way, as I always felt Sonic felt a little sluggish, but maybe it only feels that way after playing the sequels. It adds faster gameplay, including the Spin Dash (16bit version only), the ability to break through some walls, 3D bonus levels and of course the introduction of Tails, his annoying sidekick fox, loved and loathed in equal measure.
Despite an appearance by Tails, the game does not feature the two player mode. On the Megadrive it was almost unplayable due to maxing out the then powerful processor. It’s omission in this version on iPhone only goes to show that this is pretty much a port and that no extra thought has gone into it to appeal to the iPhone user. One area I thought was ripe for an iPhone makeover are the special bonus stages. I at least expected the addition of tilt controls to move Sonic left to right as he runs the tubes, but alas it’s simply d-pad control.
This brings me onto the controls overall. And as this game is a straight port, it’s one of the main areas to address. For whatever reason the controls work better this time (as opposed to Sonic 1 on iPhone). I didn’t come across any particular hurdle where I felt a real d-pad would help me. For sure, a real d-pad would feel more tactile, but overall I could sail through the early levels with relative ease, only dying or losing rings due to my own incompetence.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the graphical emulation. For the most part it runs ok, but the frame-rate is too inconsistent. If you have the sound on it’s even more noticeable, as the the music slows and speeds up with the frame-rate. Reducing the screen size to about a 1/4 of the original from the in-game options does improve it somewhat, but why would you want to play a thumbnail as opposed to full screen? In a game such as Sonic, where speed is key, and considering this is an 18 year old game, it’s not really acceptable to have these slowdown issues. Especially since I was playing this on a 3GS!
At the end of the day, your decision to purchase Sonic 2 comes down to two things. 1. Your a fan and a bit of slowdown won’t stop your enjoyment of a truly excellent platformer… or 2. you are fan and only the perfect port will quench your retro thirst. For me it was option 1. Yes, I do hate inconsistent framerates, but the original gameplay still shines though. For that reason I’m splitting my rating into the following:
iPhone & iPod Touch emulation: