Even though there have been many entries to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 since 1991’s original release, most still regard it as the best of the series. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was showered with praise upon release in 1992 and surprisingly, that sterling reputation hasn’t faded decades later. Sega was determined to fight Nintendo’s new game, so we asked its creators how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 became such a success.
Sega relocated its development team to the U.S. after the huge success of Sonic the Hedgehog in Japan. Sega also appointed Mark Cerny, the STI’s chief executive, to oversee the STI. He has been instrumental in the creation of other mascots, such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and others. Yuji Naga, series creator, moved from Japan to help with the sequel to Genesis.
“When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was being developed, the entire development team moved to San Francisco. We were able recognize the incredible talent there. [power]Naka speaks out about the U.S. title and children’s opinions. It was a positive influence on the development team, I believe.”
Al Nilsen was Sega of America’s former director of Marketing. The problem with sequels — whether they be a film, book, or videogame – is that sometimes, they fail to deliver. Naka and his team were well aware that the development team needed to step up for the sequel. One defining characteristic had to stay. Naka said that Sonic’s search for speed was what remained constant. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 raised the speed limit from previous titles. It was proof of our enthusiasm for speed. We also tried to implement a 2P mode in Sonic The Hedgehog during the final phase of development. It was a great idea that we pursued it and succeeded in making the sequel.
Tom Kalinske (former Sega of America CEO) worked closely alongside Nilsen, former product manager Madeline Schroeder and was a key part of the team’s constant communication. Nilsen claims that Sonic 2 was refined through the use of feedback. He says that the game could have grown to three times its size had we not included everything. “Naka, along with his team, did an amazing job editing the content of the game. And they weren’t afraid or embarrassed to tell you, ‘I have been working on it for four months. It’s not working. Let’s get it out. [In]It is impossible to make that many games. This was just great project management.
Nilsen claimed that Sonic 2 was a huge success sooner than any other company game. This confidence led to the marketing department creating elaborate promotional campaigns such as Sonic 2sday and a teaser banner with the slogan, “Are You up 2 It?” Sega believed it would have a big hit and wanted it to be as celebratory as a product launch.
Sega was so concerned about Sonic 2 that two individuals flew to Japan on separate planes with two different planes. This in order to avoid any problems. Although the code was delivered to Japan in good time, Sega had doubts about whether it could live up the expectations of the general public.
Nilsen takes a while to reflect on the implications of Sonic 2’s failure for Sega. Nilsen says, “I believe that it would’ve meant a shifting focus for us.” We could have stopped Sonic 2sday from May ’92. But we were happy with what we saw in Sonic 2 and knew that this wasn’t going to just be another sequel. It was going to make Sonic 2 a better game. […]However, it wouldn’t be possible without them. [been good]If we had, we’d have thought of something. We’re Sega! It’s not clear to me what it might be. But, we could have done another thing.
Sega was able to come up with an alternative plan for Nilsen. Fans and critics both praised the game for being one of two best 2D platforming titles of the 1990s. The game helped increase sales to Genesis hardware, allowing it almost equal market share with Nintendo. It offered players more space to explore and was more difficult than the usual stages. Sonic’s iconic spin-dash move was included in this game, which greatly expanded the gameplay possibilities for players. It also introduced Tails, who is still the most loved companion of the series. Nilsen states that the game was not only a great game but also a fantastic game filled with innovative elements which make it better and more enjoyable.
Although Takashi Iizuka is the current head of Sonic Team, he acknowledged how unique Sonic 2 was. He says, “As someone who was involved in Sonic 3 it hurts me to admit it but I feel Sonic 2 is the greatest of all the classic Sonic games.” “The level design feels really, really solid. Sonic 2 is still a popular choice for many reasons. Sonic 2 was developed in America by a mix of U.S. and Japanese developers. Everyone talked, discussed, and worked together to create a game that would appeal both to Japanese and American players. Sonic 2 captured the global spirit of level design and game design.
Sonic 2 continues to be a classic Sonic game, appearing on many platforms. Sonic Mania recently came out, paying homage at all points to classic Sonic games. Sonic Mania keeps the legacy alive. The game not only scored well but was also well-received by Sega. In fact, it ranked high in digital shops like Nintendo’s eShop over several months. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was an exceptional title, which established Sega as a serious contender for Mario. To this day, Sega fans, critics and the creators of the game look back with fondness on the second effort.
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