Written by  :  Zach Waksman (2)
Written on  :  Dec 06, 2003
Platform  :  Genesis

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A slicker, faster version of the original virtual high-speed chase

The Good

First off, Sega was smart enough not to mess with the original product enough to alienate the fans of the original. Sonic 2 maintained the high-speed scrolling interface and merely sped it up. Now Sonic didn't seem to be on the verge of falling off the top of the loop without power sneakers. In addition, they added the now famous character of Tails, although his role was more for show than for help. New enemies and landscapes showcased the vast capabilities of the Genesis platform. Casino Night was awesome, and Sega added a clever element by tossing in the slot machines. What an idea to essentially "gamble" for rings. It wasted so much time, but who cared. Flashing lights, loud noises; they put and eight-year-old such as myself at the time of its release in heaven. I'll give anyone who became a gambling addict because of this game one million dollars. And the music...I have the theme to the Chemical Plant Zone on my MP3 collection; it is that good. Though I wasn't a fan of the Aquatic Ruin theme, it fit the zone, which makes up for the deficiency of quality in the tune. After all, the music was done by an actual band. Not all tunes are awesome. I also enjoyed the 2-player format, which was far superior to the weak race five laps format of Sonic 3. This version rocked as it was a true race through actual zones and the fabulous 3-D Special Stage, perhaps the first of its kind. I loved that stage with its race-like appearance and general wackiness To further accentuate the 2-player zones, the music changed for each. Personally, I preferred the 2-player Casino Night theme. I could not stand the underwater Labyrinth Zone from Sonic 1, so I'm especially grateful for a choice of paths for Aquatic Ruin.

The Bad

While Tails proved an invaluable asset in Sonic 3, he acted as little more than an orange fuzzball when you played with both Sonic and Tails. You always controlled Sonic, so occasionally you'd rocket ahead, forcing the young fox to feebly helicopter his way back to keep up. At times, the game got almost too fast, especially at points in Chemical Plant. If you rolled rather than ran down a particular hill in Act 2, the game would lose track of Sonic as he powered down the slippery slope. Oil Ocean Zone!! Those sea horses were everywhere. Especially at the top of the lifts where you couldn't see them. It became a game of lose your rings, kill the horse, get the rings back before it fires another projectile. Most of the bosses were too easy, especially the first three, where it was just hit Robotnik while he's fueling the Egg-o-Matic. Simple. That said, I still haven't beaten the game because the final boss is impossible. The least they could have done is provide the guy with a ring or two to give Sonic a fighting chance. While the linkage with Sonic and Knuckles is innovative, I wish you could've chosen your character rather than having to play as the echidna. As Knuckles, the whole game, except for the final boss is a cinch due to lower ring requirements in the Special Stages. I had all the Emeralds by the end of Chemical Plant. Which leads me to another thing; why'd you always lose your rings after entering the Special Stage. It makes no sense.

The Bottom Line

Overall, a fabulously designed game from Sega. Try it linked with Sonic and Knuckles for an extra twist, but on it's own it's outstanding. This may be the best of the Genesis games through 1992 with its simple yet intelligent gameplay. Definitely a must buy.