Even though Sonic 2 on Genesis established that there are actually seven emeralds and gathering all seven will allow Sonic to transform into the Dragon Ball Z-esque Super Sonic, all of the Game Gear games kept the number at six. It’s an odd tradition that just happened to stick. The only thing that ever changes is the ending, with the exception of Sonic 2 here, where the last levels of the game can only be accessed with emeralds in tow.
What makes Sonic 2 on Game Gear truly odd is its high difficulty and reliance on gimmicks. I was lucky enough to actually get to try this title on a family member’s Game Gear as a kid, and I never made it past the first zone. There are blind jumps aplenty and the first boss features randomized bouncing balls that are rather difficult to dodge.
If you make it past that, you’ll have to deal with gimmicks such as tube puzzles and even an awfully controlling hang glider. Seriously, the hang glider in Sky High Zone is one of the most miserable controlling gimmicks I have ever had to experience in a video game. Several years back, when I did a video on 8-bit Sonic 2 over on the Stuff We Play YouTube channel, I got flack making my disdain for this gimmick apparent.
Despite that, my feelings still stand. Imagine you’re playing a game and then your d-pad controls get rotated 90 degrees. It just doesn’t feel good.
Add some screen crunch into the mix as well and Sonic 2 on Game Gear is just a miserable playthrough. However, that’s not to say that 8-bit Sonic 2 is all bad. Like most of the 8-bit Sonic games, it has a charming art style and the soundtrack is incredibly solid – even if Yuzo Koshiro wasn’t involved this time!
But if you must play this one, skip the Game Gear version altogether and just play the PAL region-exclusive Master System version. There’s no screen crunch and some of the boss patterns are toned down there. Though still a bit more difficult than average Sonic fare, and even with that awful hang glider still present, Sonic 2 on Master System actually has some fun on offer. As for the Game Gear version, that’s one that can definitely be passed up.
Sonic Chaos (1993)
Sonic Chaos seems like it should be a huge improvement over the past two entries. Sonic finally has a spin dash. Tails is playable. The graphics are further improved from the past two entries. It even has a Game Gear Micro that proudly features it!
However, it’s very clear that Sega was trying to respond to complaints about 8-bit Sonic 2’s weirdly high difficulty, and their was response was to make Sonic Chaos much simpler and easier. Perhaps a bit too much simpler and easier.