Casual Monday: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

We know how it is. You worked hard for your 10:1 KDR, but sometimes, you just want to take five, relax, and enjoy a quick game on your phone. Unfortunately, finding good games is anything but quick – most mobile gems end up buried under a mountain of trash. But like we said, we know how it is, so every Monday we shine a spotlight on a great diversion to get you through the work week.

This week we look at a game many of you are already familiar with. It’s a classic that’s found a home on nearly too many platforms to count, so why should you even take a glance at it on your button-free mobile device? You may be surprised to hear that Sonic 2 transitions beautifully to its new touch-based home, and remains one of the finest platformers ever made.

That may be hard to believe, but stick with me here. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been completely remastered for its mobile debut, thanks to the same glorious collaboration between Sega and Christian Whitehead that produced the equally remarkable Sonic 1 and Sonic CD remasterings. That means the visuals are crisp, the gameplay is smooth, and – importantly – the interface is extremely customizable. The team cut no corners in making this port.

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Sonic 2 is often regarded as the blue blur’s greatest outing. Whether it’s your favorite or not, it’s as impressive on mobile as it ever was, helped by a silky-smooth framerate and surprisingly tight controls. With the bottom left corner of the screen devoted to a virtual d-pad and the bottom right reserved for a single button, the interface is not only simple but also leaves plenty of space for the in’game action. If you find yourself struggling with the default configuration, you can easily adjust the size and location of the virtual inputs to better suit your preferences. This flexible design lets players get comfortable with the game easily, and is the linchpin of its success.

Everything else about the game is as you remember – almost. The speedy precision platforming and exploratory gameplay Sonic 2 is famous for are fully present, but Whitehead and Sega have also revived and released a brand new zone for this version. The Hidden Palace Zone, axed from the original game while in development, is playable in its entirety for the first time here, and it’s truly a delight to experience a new level in a game that seemed played-out. This zone is itself worth the $2.99 price of admission, but coupled with the rest of Sonic 2 it’s a no-brainer.

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Whether you come for the new content or for the calculated level design and infectious music that made the game a hit in 1992, it’s all aged impeccably well. I wouldn’t call Sonic 2 “required gaming” as some might, but it definitely ranks among the best platformers ever made. If you enjoy polished platforming at break-neck speed you’ll struggle to find a more enjoyable mobile package. If you’ve never played this gem, then the extra level and exemplary port features (coupled with a low price point) make this one of the best and most accessible ways to enjoy it.