The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How Sonic 2 Became a Sega Ace

Despite the flood of entries since its initial release in 1991, many still consider Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to be the pinnacle of the franchise. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released to critical acclaim in 1992, and it’s amazing that that pure reputation hasn’t faded decades later. We asked the people behind the game’s success to share how Sonic’s second appearance was one of Sega’s thrusts against Nintendo.

After the huge success of Sonic the Hedgehog developed in Japan, Sega moved the development of the sequel to the newly formed Sega Technology Research Institute in the United States. Sega appointed Mark Cerny to lead STI. He has since gone on to help create other Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Wait for the mascot. Key members of the original development team, such as series creator Yuji Naka, moved stateside to work on the sequel to the Genesis flagship game.

“The development team moved to San Francisco while working on Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and we were able to recognize the great [power] “I think it has had a good effect on the development team,” Naka said.

Al Nilsen, former director of marketing at Sega of America, said the team decided to go all out to ensure it could be another hit after the debut of its mascot. “The thing about sequels β€” whether it’s a book, a movie, or a video game β€” is that sequels don’t always deliver, and in many cases they suck,” he said. The development team knew they had to up the ante for the anticipated sequel, and Naka’s team had a lot on their minds. However, one main defining characteristic must remain. “What remains the same is Sonic’s pursuit of speed,” Zhong said. “In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, we increased the speed limit of the previous game. I think this is a testament to our passion for speed. The game also has a 2P mode, which we tried to install in Sonic the Hedgehog late in development. I’m glad we’ve continued that and achieved it in the sequel.”

Former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, who worked closely with the development team alongside Nelson and former product manager Madeleine Schroeder, says constant communication between the product team and the development team helped the process in those days. According to Nilsen, the feedback loop helped the team improve Sonic 2 into the acclaimed game we have today. “If we kept everything, the game could potentially triple in size,” he said. “Naka ​​and the team really did a great job editing the content in the game and not being afraid to say, ‘I’ve been working on this for four months and it’s not working. Let’s get this out.’ [In] A lot of games, that just doesn’t happen. It’s just great management of the project. “

Nelson claims that Sonic 2 looks to be a huge success earlier than almost any other game the company has seen. Out of this confidence, the marketing team began drafting elaborate promotions such as “Sonic 2sday” and teaser posters bearing the slogan “Are You Up 2 It?” Sega was betting big, thinking it was a huge hit, and wanted it to be a celebration as much as a product launch.

With Sonic 2, Sega’s stakes were so high that the game wasn’t perfected until the last minute, and then two people flew to Japan on two different planes to make it — in case one plane had a problem. The code arrived in Japan without issue, but despite Sega’s confidence, the question remains whether it will live up to the hype in the public eye.

When asked what it would mean for Sega if Sonic 2 failed, Nelson paused for a long time before saying it’s hard to imagine. “I think it means a shift in focus for us,” he said. “We could have canceled Sonic 2sday before May ’92, so we’re very happy with what we’ve seen in Sonic 2 because we know it’s not just a normal sequel, it’s going to be an even better one. sequel. […]but if not [been good], we’ll come up with something else. We are Sega! I just don’t know what that is and I don’t want to think about it, but we could have done other things. “

Thanks to Nelson, Sega doesn’t need to worry about making a plan B. The game ended up being considered one of the best 2D platformers of the ’90s by fans and critics alike. It boosted sales of Genesis hardware, bringing it nearly on par with Nintendo in terms of market share. Beautiful, challenging, and inventive stages give players even bigger playgrounds to speed through. The inclusion of Sonic’s mainstay spin-dash action greatly expands players’ game options, and the game serves as an introduction to Tails, the series’ most popular companion to date. “Not only did they deliver a great game, but they delivered a phenomenal game with new elements to make it bigger and better,” Nelson said.

The current head of Sonic Team, Takashi Iizuka, wasn’t involved with the game, but he acknowledged how special Sonic 2 is. “As someone who worked on Sonic 3, it kind of hurts me to say that, but I do feel that Sonic 2 is really the best of the classic Sonic series,” he said. “The level design is really solid. I think there are a lot of reasons why a lot of people are still leaning toward Sonic 2. Sonic 2 takes place in the U.S., a great combination of U.S. developers talking and discussing and working with Japanese developers and all the staff Both say it’s a good game for Japanese tastes, and it’s a good game for American tastes. Sonic 2 really reflects the global awareness of game design and level design.”

The legacy of Sonic 2 lives on today as it appeared on numerous platforms and became the gold standard for all 2D Sonic games. One such game is the recently released Sonic Mania, which pays homage to classic games in the series. Sonic Mania ensured that tradition continued, as it not only received good reviews, but also performed well at Sega, ranking high on digital storefronts like the Nintendo eShop within months of its release. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was certainly a special game that cemented Sega’s Blue Shadow as a true competitor to Mario, and to this day, fans, critics, and its creator look back on the speedy hedgehog with great affection. Hard work in second grade.

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