Like a favourite candy bar you used to munch on as a kid, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 just isn't what it used to be.
This nutty platformer was nothing less than a treat back in the day. Speedy action still caters to today's taste, even if the once excellent graphics no longer have that shiny candy-coated shell. Yet, something has changed to make this once sweet game less palatable.
Inadequate controls for levels that demand precision are a source of aggravation, while performance issues on older iPhone and iPod touch handsets and missing features leave Sonic The Hedgehog 2 with a sour aftertaste, despite its heritage.
In the zone
Dr Robotnik returns in this sequel, this time bent on world domination by threatening destruction with his massive Death Egg. Chaos Emeralds are needed to power up the weapon, which means you have to collect them before the doctor has a chance to amass them himself. You're not alone since Tails comes along for the adventure.
Unlike the original release, however, this iPhone and iPod touch emulation is without a two-player versus mode. Tails merely follows behind Sonic as you guide him through each speedster stage.
It's a missed opportunity - connecting with a friend via wi-fi or Bluetooth to zip through levels would have been a great way of updating this classic. Instead, you're limited to running through each zone solo.
Under the speed limit
That would be fine if the virtual D-pad offered the sort of precision required in later levels. While the green pastures of Emerald Hill Zone can be easily navigated with the slippery pad, it's not up to the task when faced with precarious jumps and traps in advanced areas like Metropolis Zone.
All too often Sonic misses his mark because of the loose D-pad - falling short of a small moving platform, spinning too close to an enemy, or rolling off a platform - and lives are lost in the process.
Playing on an iPhone 3G or first generation iPod touch adds another layer of frustration with performance issues. Whenever the action heats up, the game slows down. Get hit by an enemy and the game stutters as rings burst onto the screen.
Given that the same issue existed with the port of Sonic The Hedgehog, it's disappointing that it wasn't addressed in this sequel.
The tone of this review is largely negative, but you shouldn't take that as outright advice not to buy Sonic The Hedgehog 2. It's not perfect, but under the tics there's a classic game, with all of the level design and other elements that made the original a success. It's just hampered by flimsy controls.
Dodgy performance on older devices can be tolerated to a degree, but the controls are hard to overcome. Without more care in porting games like Sonic The Hedgehog 2 to iPhone and iPod touch, Sega risks souring its classics.