When Sonic The Hedgehog 2 first fired up on our TV screens back in 1992, the world of video games changed forever. The original Sonic The Hedgehog title had already made a huge mark in the previous year, but it was in this second outing that the blue blur started to display his full potential, with the introduction of cute vulpine sidekick Tails Prower, multiplayer gaming options, the spin dash attack and bonus levels that looked close to 3D, in addition to a host of other improvements.
One of the most notable advances of Sonic 2 was its level design, and some of its zones still stand the test of time as highlights of today’s handheld side-scrolling genre on numerous ports and compilations. Let’s take a look at one of the game’s finest zones…
Casino Night Zone is one of the most memorable zones in the history of the entire Sonic series. This incredibly creative set of levels saw Sonic fired about like a pinball through a lurid Vegas-esque landscape, built into familiarly zany and complex landscapes for the hero to traverse. Not only did the zone feature incredibly eye-catching visual themes, tough badniks and a brilliant synth-swing soundtrack – Youtube it and we DARE you to get it out of your head in the next 24 hours – it also featured a whole host of gameplay features entirely new to the series.
Take the slots for example. On these stages Sonic finds himself bounced, flipped, flung or fired into slot machines which would win or lose him rings depending on whether he landed Sonic, Tails or Dr Robotnik symbols. It was like something out of Intertops Casino, in 1992! Then there were the buffers, the flippers, the brash soundscape, hidden elevators, new hazards and super-springs. This zone brought something totally new to the franchise.
The bad guys were also delightfully tough. Casino Night Zone featured only one type of badnik, a strange crustacean-type robot called Crawl, with a shield which protected it from frontal attacks. We remember it taking a while to figure out you had to get behind the devils and dispatch them with a spin dash!
The main boss for the level was trickier still, ‘Catcher Robotnik’, with the moustachioed villain piloting an aerial craft which dropped bombs on Sonic in a problematically enclosed space. The key with this fella was to get enough speed going and leap from the level’s steep walls to hit Robotnik from above.
Casino Night Zone proved an immediate hit with gamers and still enjoys an enduring popularity with both hardcore fans and newcomers to the series alike. Mixing the speed of Sonic with the thrills and spills of the casino was always gonna be good!