Sonic 2 iPhone app proves some games are timeless

by David Lister

Last May’s release of the Sega Genesis classic Sonic the Hedgehog was met with quite a bit of fanfare, but also just as many questions. It’s always great to see an old friend, but many gamers wanted to know if this was a sign of things to come. More specifically, would there be more Sonic iPhone game remakes in the future?

We now know the answer to that question, as Sega is set to release Sonic the Hedgehog 2 iPhone game sometime next week. And, fortunately, we at Appolicious were able to get an advanced look at the second game in the legendary series.

The first thing you’ll notice is how strikingly similar Sonic 2 is to the original game; while the first iPhone game had two view options, a full-screen mode and a slightly smaller screen (which also offered sharper graphics), this version only has the smaller view. The virtual D-pad is a replica of the one from the Genesis controller and there’s a single action button.

The full-screen option may be included when the game is released or in an update, but the game is fine as is.

While the first game was quite successful and for the most part critically acclaimed, there was a common complaint about the buttons not being responsive enough. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with Sonic 2, though, as the game plays remarkably close to the original (though I do acknowledge it’s been a few years).

The game consists of 11 zones, each with two acts. Each level feels quite long and the zones have distinct feels, even though you’re basically doing the same thing again and again.

Sonic’s calling card is its frenzied game play, and this port does a fantastic job of capturing that without getting out of control. As much as I will always love the Mario games, there’s something very refreshing about the speed at which Sonic 2 is played at.

This game almost marked the debut of the spin dash attack, which you can perform by holding the d-pad down and tapping the action button. Tails also follows along in Sonic 2, though unlike the original, you can only play as Sonic and multi-player isn’t an option.

Graphically, the game is what it is, as while Sonic and Tails look sharp, it’s quite obvious from the background graphics that this game is from 1992. But that shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as a deterrent, because visually the game is full of charm.

I will admit that because of nostalgia, it’s somewhat hard for me to look at this game objectively. I absolutely loved the original and, not surprisingly, I absolutely love the iPhone version.

It may have been interesting to see some iPhone-specific controls, such as the option to use the accelerometer somehow or using touch screen controls in-game. But I get the sense that Sega is trying to stay true to the original, and that’s both understandable and admirable.

I guess I could see newer gamers who missed out on the first Sonic games wondering what the fuss is about, but I also think there’s a timeless charm to Sonic 2. This iPhone game is a wonderful representation of the original and a welcome addition to the iTunes App Store. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait until 2011 for Sonic 3.