The SEGA AGES collection has slowly been growing over the last couple of years with a mish-mash of popular classics and lesser-known gems. Each new entry has been a pleasant event to look forward to, a chance to revisit an old but familiar retro experience or take on a previously missed one. It should come as little surprise but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 falls firmly in the former camp, a game that at this point has carved every single detail of its platforming adventure into my memory. With so many different versions of the game out there, how does the SEGA AGES effort stack up?
First off let’s focus on the game itself. What else is there to really say about what many regard as one of the best platformers – or even game – of all time? It’s the same Sonic the Hedgehog 2 we all know and love. The same 11 zones that’ll take you from coastal paradises to casinos to giant flying fortresses in the sky. Even the same split-screen multiplayer mode is included. As good as the original Sonic the Hedgehog was, its sequel just felt bigger, more ambitious and even faster and even playing it nearly 30 years later, the experience is no less exhilarating. And M2 has done a great job bringing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 over to the SEGA AGES series, the game looking and running great.
Expect the same level of visual and control customisation here as you’ve seen with previous releases from M2. Nothing ground-breaking but certainly enough that you’ll find your preferred setup. More notable though is the ability to play the entirety of the game as Knuckles in a nod to the lock-on technology used to combine Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic & Knuckles back on the Mega Drive. It’s an addition likely familiar to a lot of players but a neat one to see included nonetheless especially since the echidna plays very differently to Sonic largely thanks to his ability to glide and climb walls.
The Drop Dash manoeuvre – an ability that allows Sonic to spin dash immediately after a jump – has also been included as an option, a move that made its debut in the excellent Sonic Mania and feels right at home here. Ring Keep mode meanwhile feels like an easier option designed for newer players, Sonic starting with a handful of rings and only losing half (as opposed to all of them) when taking a hit.
Challenge mode is an interesting idea but one that feels disappointingly limited. Playable as either Sonic or Knuckles, this time trial also tasks the player with collecting at least 100 rings before reaching the finish. It’s a neat wrinkle that forces you to think about your route through the level in a totally different way. Unfortunately (and rather bizarrely) only Emerald Hill Zone Act 1 can be played in this mode, resulting in an option that’s unlikely to hold your attention for long.
All in all, the list of features, modes and options is solid enough and meets up to the standards the previous games have set, but does pale in comparison to the excellent smartphone versions already out there of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (and at a much lower price I might add). Extras like the addition of the once scrapped Hidden Palace Zone, elemental shields from Sonic 3 and more stages for the game’s multiplayer mode are sadly absent here which is a real shame especially since they feel far more substantial than some of the features that are included.
It comes as little surprise but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remains a fantastic platformer. Of the what seems like hundreds of releases this game has seen, the SEGA AGES version ranks among some of the better efforts. While it might lack the bells and whistles of the terrific Christian Whitehead remake, it’s still a great way to experience one of the hedgehog’s best adventures be it your first or tenth time.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SEGA