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Currently reading: Worst to Best: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Levels

Worst to Best: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Levels

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

When it comes to gaming sequels, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 absolutely blew it out of the water.

The second instalment in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise built on the first game in every single way. Thanks to more levels, an increased variety of Badniks, improved sprite graphics, new moves (spin dash), more challenging boss battles, an awesome soundtrack and a flying, dual-tailed fox – called Miles “Tails” Prower – as your partner.

Sonic 2 - Screenshot

Releasing in November 1992, this game was a must-own for any SEGA Mega-Drive/Genesis owner, and I’ve no-doubt was one of the Christmas presents many kids (and grown-ups) received. The best present, I dare guess.

I love all the levels in Sonic 2, but as you know; I’m hear to put them in order… from worst, to best!


11. Sky Chase Zone (Level 9)

The calm before the storm, is how I’d describe this iconic level. Although it is in last place, that is not to say it is a bad level. In fact, it put quite a refreshing take on the traditional 2D platformer.

Sky Chase Zone is the ninth level in Sonic 2, and one where you spend your time stood on the top wing of the Tornado (Tails‘ bi-plane), as you pursue Dr. Robotnik through the Badnik infested skies.

Sky Chase Zone - Screenshot

Jumping from the plane, onto the backs of the projectile firing Turtloids, before leaping into the air; taking-down a flying Balkiry, before running quick past the under-side of a formation of spiked-ball dropping Nebula – just be careful not to slip from the plane and plummet to your death!


10. Wing Fortress Zone (Level 10)

Taking place straight after the afore mentioned Sky Chase Zone, we have Wing Fortress Zone.

A slightly-more intense level than the last, as you have to ensure you time your jumps perfectly; otherwise you could once again fall to your doom.

Wing Fortress Zone - Screenshot

From this point on, you are on your own, as Tails – along with his bi-plane – has been shot out of the sky by the evil Doctor Robotnik.

It is a fairly tame level to travel across, as the only real threat is the egg-firing Clucker, that pops up in a shell-shooting turret on occasion. As you near the front of the flying battleship, you have to face-off against Robotnik and his laser canon and floating, spiked platforms – whilst trapped between two slowly encroaching force-field barriers.

Once you hit the laser canon enough, the machine overloads and the force-fields fail. Robotnik makes a run-for-it, with Sonic in hot-pursuit; and onto the final act…


9. Death Egg Zone (Level 11)

No rings and intense, worrying music are the least of your worries here.

Inside Robotnik‘s (clearly Death Star inspired) Death Egg, you first have to come face-to-face with the coolest, and deadliest, most combat-capable Badnik yet… Mecha Sonic.

Death Egg Zone 1 - Screenshot

After no-doubt using a few lives, and have now successfully defeated the robotic version of yourself, you now have your chance to go up against Robotnik, for one epic final showdown.

Death Egg Zone - Screenshot

I’ll be honest, as a child, I failed at this final boss more times than I can remember.

Spending many a time having to replay the entire game over again, before eventually defeating him and truly having accomplished something special.


8. Casino Night Zone (Level 4)

Casino Night Zone was quite an upbeat stage, where I spent the majority of the ten minute time limit trying to get as many Rings as possible; in those infernal slot-machines, before racing my way to the finish before the time runs out.

Casino Night Zone - Screenshot

The nighttime backdrop, the neon signs and the pinball-style ‘flippers’ make this a really memorable level. Even though I did find the final boss somewhat irritating in my younger years.

Plus, the crab-like Badnik known as; Crawl, was pretty cool, but almost impossible to defeat thanks to it’s bumper-shield.


7. Metropolis Zone (Level 8)

The only stage in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to feature three acts (much like the game’s predecessor), Metropolis Zone could be a real challenge to get through.

Metropolis Zone - Screenshot

Although a very challenging and frustrating stage (at times), it was also one that was the most innovative.

With the screw/bolt pillars you had to climb, along with the rotating; mesh-tunnels, springy steam-pipes, rotating cogs and spear-protruding cubes that floated above vats of molten metal – there was plenty that could kill you.


6. Emerald Hill Zone (Level 1)

Emerald Hill Zone is first, and easiest stage of the game, and is a welcome nod to the original Green Hill Zone, whilst bring a few new twists on your way to the finish.

Emerald Hill Zone - Screenshot

From the coconut throwing Badnik monkeys, the Masher piranha-bots to the twisting tracks and cascading waterfalls, this is a perfect level to lure players into a false-sense-of-security.

Plus the superb soundtrack combined with the tropical backdrop is truly captivating.


5. Aquatic Ruin Zone (Level 3)

Following on from the fun; treacherous, tube-filled industrial landscape of Chemical Plant Zone, onto the crumbling terrain of the ancient, trap-riddled stonework of Aquatic Ruin Zone.

The third Zone in this epic Sonic sequel adds even more variety to the gameplay, although you still have one of the blue-blur’s worst enemies yet… water.

Aquatic Ruin Zone - Screenshot

From submerged slow-motion running, the wall-breaking; drill-nosed Grounder; to the arrow-firing stone-pillars, Aquatic Ruin Zone is a highly enjoyable and rather unique journey.

Plus, the totem-pole hammering showdown against Robotnik; is a truly memorable boss.


4. Chemical Plant Zone (Level 2)

A major favourite for all Sonic fans, Chemical Plant Zone is a blistering thrill-ride from start to finish.

I remember watching a VHS tape at a friends house; when I was 8 years old – I think. I’m not sure how they had come to be the owners of the tape (my guess is it came as part of a gaming magazine back in the day), but I remember seeing footage of Sonic 2.

Chemical Plant Zone - Screenshot

From all of the footage, the part that stuck with me the most; was the speed at which both Sonic and Tails shot through the suction tubes of Chemical Plant Zone.

When I eventually managed to get my hands on a copy of the game, it was mind-blowing to see Tails save my spikey-skin from the venomous clutches of the black/yellow mechanical spider Grabber. Tails was my team mate, and he had my back!


3. Oil Ocean Zone (Level 7)

The soundtrack to Oil Ocean Zone is absolutely brilliant.

Add to that, the toxic; bright-orange sky, the green/yellow chequered cannons and green-flame propelled platforms, and what you are left with is a super-cool level.

Oil Ocean Zone - Screenshot

A level that doesn’t follow the traditional linear flow of most Sonic levels. As you shoot through cannons, up and down automated platforms and along ribbed-tubes whilst carefully jumping over merciless spiked rings, there were a few times where I felt I was heading in the wrong direction, only to be proved wrong.

The Zone also features two of my favourite Badniks – the floating, seahorse Aquis bots and projectile-firing, pink Octus. Plus, you could fall-in and traverse along the Oil Ocean itself – as long as you don’t go too deep.


2. Mystic Cave Zone (Level 6)

Up next is a level that took Sonic to new depths, as you delve into the eerie, purple/green caverns of Mystic Cave Zone.

Mystic Cave Zone - Screenshot

Another level with great music, as well as non-linear paths to explore.

Lower wooden bridges by jumping onto vine-levers – but make sure you watch out for the lunging, spiked Crawlton caterpillars, the hovering firefly bots, as well as that one spiked pit of doom, that even Super Sonic can’t jump out of.


1. Hill Top Zone (Level 5)

Now, this is my favourite level from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Hill Top Zone was like an amalgamation of Marble Zone (from the first Sonic the Hedgehog) and Emerald Hill Zone, which took Sonic and Tails to new heights (pun intended).

Hill Top Zone - Screenshot

Race along the cloud-covered hill tops, through tremoring underground caverns and over fiery, flame blazing pits as you dodge the flame-throwing red Sol ball Badniks (clearly inspired by the Orbinaut from the first game’s Star Light Zone).

Plus, this is the first time you come across the first dinosaur inspired Badnik swimming in the pits of fire. The long-necked purple/gray Rexon bots will shoot small fireballs at both Sonic and Tails if within eye-line.

As a child, I loved playing this level. It was always my favourite part of Sonic 2, and still is today (over 20 years later).


What’s your Favourite Stage?

Do you agree with my list, or would you have put the stages in a different order?

Please, let me know in the comments below.


I’ve already covered the first instalment in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, and will be following on with Sonic 3, Sonic & KnucklesSonic Mania and more…