25. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Developers: Sonic Team, Sega Technical Institute Platform: Sega Mega Drive Release: November 1992 This game is a serious treat to play, choosing between either Sonic, Tails or both (with a second player being able to control the orange side-kick, who will otherwise follow Sonic is the 2nd controller goes unused). As before, each level has three acts, with evil boss Robotnik at hand to hover about at the end of act 3 for his regular bashing. The iconic 'spin dash' is introduced and makes killing enemies unable to be jumped on a lots less fidgety to execute. This duck-dash move is also a great way to initiate the frantic pin-ball and roller-coaster esque speed roll that is arguably the games signature sequence. There are many 1990s-defining moments to this game: the mechanical city level was almost controversial with its emphasis on speed, inventing a new craze called epilepsy that had previously been known as attention-seeking, and the '3D' half-pipe runway, whereby 2 player competitiveness reaches its every man for himself peak as both Sonic and Tails can compete to collect the most rings, and each can jump ahead in front to steal the golden tokens depending on their timing. Compare this to the far trickier grid-line globe bonus levels on Sonic 3 and this is a walk in the park, and all the better for it. Increasing the cast of characters felt like a revelation at the time (who didn't draw and render-shade pictures of both Sonic and Tails in pencil over and over again?), and this was arguably realized with even greater success on the next Sonic entry, but here is where the surprise, novelty and nostalgia is contained meaning it never loses any of its considerable charm. For me, this is the most iconic Mega Drive title, and it also represents Sega finally going neck and neck with Nintendo, gaining 50% of the gaming market within 6 months of 2's release. The speed of the game was considerably increased from its predecessor, making the Pinball spin-off not surprising in the slightest, and sometimes leaves you with nothing else to do but sit back and marvel. And as manic as it gets, it never spirals out of control. Much like the first game, sitting back during these moments is crucial as you need to see what you can spot in terms of coins, TV-boxed power ups, etc, which just shows you how expansive a lot the levels really were. The split-screen 2-player mode has retrospectively been criticized, but baft at those noting a slower speed, as if you'd expect it to stay seamless, this was new ground for platformers. We're seeing a glimpse of the future, this was the horizon point before the big reveal (ie, the next generation consoles). To this day, there is still a solid market for Sonic. Indeed, there are just as many unnecessary titles in the series as there was back in the 90s. What is perhaps now lacking is a definitive line to focus on, but with Sonic being straightforward was never the appeal anyway. As impressive as Sonic 2 clearly is, there are 2 better ones in the series still to feature.