These two comics are about Sonic 2 again. I really found myself taken away all over again when I bought Sonic 2 on the 3DS. It was a childhood game for me, but after playng it so much I got tired of it, I “lent” it to a kid who moved out of town. When I came back to Sonic in my teens, I would only ever play Sonic 1 and CD... so I kind of forgot how good Sonic 2 is. It's really great.

People say that the platforming and exploration isn't on the level of Mario, but it was never intended to be. Sonic crosses the Mario running and jumping with an actual race course, and that's how those levels are built. The racing part of the forumla is extremely important, and it's often glossed over when folks look at classical Sonic. It's a perfect split between platform exploration and arcade speed.

In particular Sonic 2 has beautiful level designs, with a short route, a long route, and extremely thoughtful item placement that carefully considers every way the player character can go flying. Running through these levels, and trying to do it quickly, involves really thinking these courses through, finding the best path, and then steering Sonic through with a lot of finesse. It's a shame that only Sonic CD has the dedicated “time trial” mode because I think a lot of the true character of these stages comes out when you play them in this format.

When you talk about the decline of Sonic videogames, I think that the critical issue there is that as the world and story got bigger, it was harder to reconcile the action and speed for which the game was loved with the story and character, which the fans of Sonic loved and everybody else kind of loathed. Sonic Adventure 2 might be the clearest indication of this problem: a game that rations out its fun part, forcing you to move through a ton of half-baked mini-games and awful story to get to the Sonic “racetrack” levels, which are as always great fun.

Mario 64 (and more recently, MGS5) made a transition by flipping its whole game upside down: I wish that someone had done the same with Sonic. Sonic Boom was an attempt, but also doomed even if they had finished it.

Anyway! That's what the first comic is about. You can time attack or you can go down to the bottom of the stage and hit the “slow” route, where you'll get a lot of items, see a lot of enemies, and often the more interesting stage gimmicks. Paradoxically, it is exactly these gimmicks that slow you down, so they're not usually on the “fast” route up at the top of the stage. But they're till worth seeing, aren't they? There isn't a huge in-game incentive to do either: unlike Sonic 1 and CD, 2 does not judge you with a “bad ending” for not getting all the Chaos Emeralds. There's a different ending, but it's not “bad.” However, the whole sprawling stage is there for you to appreciate, and it's important in all videogames, but especially detailed ones like these, to stop and smell the roses.

The first panel of the first comic is supposed to be the title screen of Sonic 2. I have always wanted to do this image with Kawaiikochans, but it's a little beyond Comipo's abilities, particularly the characters being “inside” the circular shape on the title screen. Comipo has issues when you try to put objects in/around/over each other convincingly; you really have to fudge that. It also has issues with circular shapes: I can put a character inside of a box no problem, because “panels” in the program are box-shaped. I cannot, however, put a character inside of a circle, because the program doesn't do any other panel shape. There is a fan attempt at fixing this problem, but the results are so distractingly ugly that, trust me, you don't want it.

Anyway, one day I'll just commission that image from Persona or something. HEY ARE YOU READING THIS--

The second comic is about the Special Stage, in which you'll recall Sonic and Tails run through a half-pipe. You can do this with two players, but you're unlikely to have two people around if you're playing the main game in Sonic 2, so in the regular game mode you move Sonic and Tails... tails as usual.

However, like in the main game, Tails is on a slight delay. This is fine in the main game, because whatever happens to Tails, it can't affect you negatively. He can't lose you rings, only grab them for you. You aren't penalized when he inevitably can't catch up to you and has to fly back onto the screen after a brief absence. Jokes have been made about his apparent immortality in this mode. (Note that Tails is designed for this function, with his two tails and the “tailcopter.”)

However, in the bonus game, Tails will pick up rings for you and lose them, in kind of an unfair way: When you hop over a bomb, Tails' delay will usually cause him to run into the bomb, losing you rings. The special stages require near-perfect play to meet the ring quotas established, so this is a huge problem.

The solution is simply to jump sooner, and ultimately, to get all the emeralds, to just know every single special stage in and out. Getting Super Sonic is, in a sense, an endgame goal for the kid who's beaten Sonic 2 a million times.

Rather than a screencap of Tails getting hit by a bomb, I looked for a 3D animal in Comipo that might resemble him. Luckily for me they had a goldfish with two tails. There was no other choice.

At the end Majide starts talking like the Saturday morning cartoon version of Sonic, who had a very particular and very 90s voice (courtesy of “Steve Urkel”, Jaleel White) that has had an influence on the English voice of the character to this day, even as most of the US-side stuff (like the name “Robotnik”) has been undone. It is simply irresistible to say campy things like “Way past cool!”