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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or simply Sonic 2, the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog, is a platform game made by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis. It features Sonic the Hedgehog and was the first game in which Super Sonic appeared, as well as being Miles "Tails" Prower's 16-bit debut.


Release details
The game was released in Japan for the Sega Mega Drive on November 21, 1992. The Sega Genesis release in the United States came three days later, on November 24. The European Mega Drive release came later in November. It was re-released in the Sonic Jam collection on the Sega Saturn in 1997, for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 as part of Sonic Mega Collection, and on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus.


Storyline
The story, as told in the instruction booklet, is that Dr. Robotnik (Dr. Eggman in the Japanese version), has again captured all of the animals of the world and it is up to Sonic to free them. He is also planning to use the Chaos Emeralds as a power source for his Death Egg spacecraft.


Gameplay
The gameplay is similar to that of Sonic's first adventure. The player collects rings throughout the level. Getting hit when one has rings causes all of the rings to fly out of the character. Getting hit when one has no rings results in death. There are two basic moves: the jump and the spin-dash. In the spin-dash, the character curls up into a ball, prepares to dash, and speeds forward, remaining curled up. Breaking a monitor performs the action shown on it. There are various types of monitors, with contents such as 10 rings, invincibility, a shield, a speed boost, and speed-up shoes.

Sonic can collect "Chaos Emeralds" by entering into special stages in which he must collect a set amount of the golden rings before the reaching the end of a lap. Once the player has collected seven Chaos Emeralds, Sonic can transform into "Super Sonic" by collecting 50 rings in the real world and jumping. Super Sonic is a temporary invulnerability mode introduced in Sonic 2 in which Sonic appears golden, runs faster, and jumps higher. As time passes, the number of rings Sonic has decreases by one ring per second unless new rings are collected. When the ring count reaches zero or Super Sonic dies, Sonic will revert to regular Sonic.

The game can be played as Sonic, Tails, or both. When playing as Sonic and Tails, the screen focuses on Sonic. If Tails remains outside of the screen for an extended period of time, he flies back to meet Sonic. Tails can be played by a human player or can be computer-controlled.

Sonic 2 features a two-player split-screen competition mode. In a two-player game, the players compete on a game level for better performance in five categories: total rings collected, rings at the end of the level, time for level completion, score, and boxes opened. The person who wins more categories wins a level. After one player finishes a level, the remaining player has 60 seconds to finish the level.


Production
Sonic 2 differed from the original Sonic the Hedgehog in that it was produced at the Sega Technical Institute in the United States, and experienced Japanese Sega members such as Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara (the first game's lead programmer and game planner respectively) were brought in to work alongside the American developers. Two artists in particular stand out: Brenda Ross and Craig Stitt. Peter Morawiec and Tim Skelly also worked on some art for the Special Stages.


List of zones
Below is a list of zones in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in order of appearance in the game. Each describes the boss section of the zone, in which Robotnik attempts to defeat Sonic.


Emerald Hill Zone
A green island with big fields and beaches and other tropical islands in the distance. The boss in this zone has Dr. Robotnik in a drill-equipped dune buggy. After seven hits, Robotinik shoots the drill bit at Sonic; one more hit destroys his machine.


Chemical Plant Zone
Dr. Robotnik's chemical plant, full of tubes and floating platforms. He uses a new substance called "Mega-mack" to try to kill Sonic by vacuuming up this substance and dropping it on Sonic. As long as Sonic is ducking he cannot be hurt by this. This level is also notable for a brief rising-water section, which provides a rather steep learning curve for new players.


Aquatic Ruin Zone
An ancient ruin located in a forest valley partially submerged in water. Dr. Robotnik tries to use the ruin's technology against Sonic between pillars that spit out arrows.


Casino Night Zone
A city that never sleeps, full of pinball rooms, flashing lights, and slot machines. Dr. Robotnik tries to kill Sonic with his neon spike-ball machine.

The slot machines give out different prizes depending on when the reels land:

3 Rings: 10 rings
3 Bars: 20 rings
3 Tails: 25 rings
3 Sonics: 30 rings
3 Jackpots: 150 rings
3 Dr. Robotniks: lose 100 rings (be careful!)
In addition, a Jackpot or two can also act as a wild card or wild cards, rewarding rings even though the other reel(s) are not Jackpots. Sometimes they merely fill in for the missing icon, other times they act as doublers:

2 Tails, 1 Jackpot: 50 rings
2 Sonics, 1 Jackpot: 60 rings
2 Jackpots, 1 Tails: 100 rings
2 Jackpots, 1 Sonic: 120 rings
Jackpots and Dr. Robotniks: lose all rings (be very careful!)
A Bar will also give out rings depending on how many there are:

1 Bar: 2 rings
2 Bars: 4 rings
3 Bars: 20 rings (see above)
Note: In this case, Jackpots only act as doublers in the case of only Jackpots and Bars, i.e., two Bars with one Jackpot is worth 40 rings, and one Bar with two Jackpots is worth 80 rings, but one Bar and one Jackpot is only worth 2 rings.


Hill Top Zone
A zone on a mountain high above the clouds. The mountain is also an active volcano. Dr. Robotnik uses the volcano's lava to shoot fireballs and set the grass alight in his Lava Submarine. Depending on one's route through the level, Sonic may face an earth- or lava-quake in the Second Act.


Mystic Cave Zone
An old, dark abandoned mine inhabited by Badniks that attempt to shock or collide into Sonic. Dr. Robotnik tries to stab Sonic with sharp debris as he uses his machines to drill into the ceiling of the mine.


Oil Ocean Zone
A zone polluted by Dr. Robotnik's oil-drilling projects. The viscosity of the oil allows Sonic to run across it, although he can still die in the oil if he is totally submerged in it. The Badnik "Aquis" is found in this zone. It is a fast moving and dangerous mechanical seahorse, and is able to float around in the air, never touching the ground. Dr. Robotnik tries to kill Sonic in his submarine again but uses spikes and lasers this time.


Metropolis Zone
An extra-long level, in which Dr. Robotnik resides. There are lots of machines, including the Pipe Teleporter and screw elevators, as well as Badnik stars which explode to puncture Sonic. Dr. Robotnik protects himself against Sonic with spiraling eggs each containing a fake Robotnik.

Metropolis Zone had 3 acts, like Sonic 1. However, all the other zones in Sonic 2 had two or one. This was because Tom Payne (the artist in charge of this level) had also been assigned another level that was finally scrapped due to lack of time, leaving him to work on this third act.


Sky Chase Zone
In order to chase Dr. Robotnik, Tails uses his Tornado plane to fly into the sky to battle Concorde birds and turtle battleships. This is a very short level with one act and no bosses.


Wing Fortress Zone
After Tails's plane is shot down, Sonic jumps onto Dr. Robotnik's sky ship, where he has to avoid falling to his doom and reach the bridge to Dr. Robotnik. Sonic is ambushed and has to dodge a massive laser while the walls narrow. The laser ends up blowing the circuits and Dr. Robotnik tries to escape in his spaceship. Tails comes back with the plane and flies Sonic close to the ship using a rocket booster installed at the bottom of the plane. Sonic grabs on to Dr. Robotnik's ship and gets to the Death Egg.


Death Egg Zone
Sonic must battle against a silver Sonic robot with no rings to help him. After defeating the robot, Sonic chases Robotnik into a giant armoured battle suit, the last boss that Sonic has to destroy. After defeating him, he runs out of the exploding Death Egg and skydives back down, and is caught by Tails's plane (unless one has managed to collect all the Chaos Emeralds; in that case Super Sonic flies alongside the plane).


Secrets
Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a game activated by locking Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to the passthru cartridge of Sonic & Knuckles that was released later by Sega. The resulting game is almost identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, except that one plays as Knuckles the Echidna. Although some fans believe that Sonic 2 was created with foreknowledge that such an add-on device would be made later, this is incorrect. The majority of the changes to Sonic 2 are actually contained in the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge and loaded at boot if a Sonic 2 cartridge is found in the pass-through slot; the actual Sonic 2 data is accessed very rarely.

Time restrictions necessitated dropping some features and levels from the final game. Remnants of these like incomplete levels and unused sounds and graphics have been revealed through study of the internals of the game using emulators along with a debug mode.

The game's level select code, activated by playing music within the game, is 19, 65, 09, 17; Sonic programmer Yuji Naka's birthday is September 17, 1965. Its debug code is 1, 9, 9, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4; Sonic 2's U.S. release date was November 24, 1992.


Beta version
On the Internet, a widely distributed prototype of the game, better known as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 beta, has been discovered by Simon Wai, which features several incomplete zones. Only four levels can be played in "normal" gameplay; the rest have to be accessed through the level select code. Many are not playable, so the debug code is used to explore the acts. Some of the acts are empty, causing Sonic and Tails to fall to their doom immediately after beginning the level. The beta is frequently examined by hackers to determine how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was developed.

In Asia and Brazil, the beta version was put on cartridges and passed off as the final version by pirates who are believed to have altered it slightly to stop the Sega logo from showing when the game boots up, as was common practice.

A mock-up picture exists which suggests that at one stage in development, a desert-like zone was planned in a Sonic 2 prototype, which until recently was believed to be named Dust Hill Zone. However, there is nothing to suggest that the level has ever existed in a playable format. The only official name that is known for this zone is "Sabaku", or "Desert", zone.

In addition to the renamed zones, such as Green Hill Zone which became the Emerald Hill Zone, Dust Hill Zone which became the Mystic Cave Zone, Neo Green Hill Zone which became Aquatic Ruin Zone, and Sky Fortress Zone which became Wing Fortress Zone, the following levels exist in the beta version of the game.


Wood Zone
A dense forest zone with only the very beginning of Act 1 programmed, and that itself is very glitchy. The music is the same as that in the Metropolis Zone. There are no enemies present in the Wood Zone. Without the debug mode activated, this level is cut very short due to the fact that it is impossible get past the first ramp, the characters hit the floor above instead. However, using debug, it can be further explored. The stage suddenly ends halfway through an animated (though not active) conveyor belt. Act 2 has no data.


Genocide City Zone
This level's data has either been removed, or not yet coded, and the player falls and dies immediately upon entering the level. The music used is that of Chemical Plant Zone.


Hidden Palace Zone
The Hidden Palace Zone appears to be an underwater cavern with large crystals in it. The music used is that of the 2-player mode of Mystic Cave Zone. It contains badniks never seen in the released version, such as a red dinosaur badnik. The large emerald found in this stage has at times been suggested to be the Master Emerald, however those who worked on the zone have said it was just another block to break through. At one point in the zone is a long shaft which appears as if it was intended to loop from the top to the bottom of the map, but even if one navigates to the other end, there is not much left to the stage besides an animated (but as in the Wood Zone conveyor belts, not working) water slide. Act 2 is identical to Act 1, except the player is stuck inside a wall at the start, and all objects and enemies are gone.

Some suggest that music 10 in the final Sound Test, which was unused, was intended for this level. In addition, while the art was removed from the final game, the collision data remains, and the level itself can be accessed by entering the Game Genie code ACLA-ATD4 and using the Level Select to go to Death Egg Zone. This has led some researchers to believe that Hidden Palace Zone was intended to be in the final game as a "hidden" level that could be accessed only through a cheat code.


Death Egg Zone
According to the level select, this zone originally had 2 acts (unlike in the final version). But like Genocide City, neither act has any data and the player merely falls and dies immediately. No music is played in this zone.

3:34 AM

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