13 – Mystic Cave Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
Mystic Cave Zone is one of the most mysterious zones in the Sonic series. Lots of obstacles await you in Mystic Cave Zone, some of which are just plain brutal. Sonic will have to open gates with vines, jump across swinging platforms, and avoid enemies that seem to pop out of nowhere. Mystic Cave Zone also punishes you for being careless by leading Sonic into spike filled pitfalls, and parts of the environment that will crush him if you’re not careful. Mystic Cave Zone also includes a strange theme that has a very Inspector Gadget like feel.
12 – Tidal Tempest – Sonic CD (Sega CD)
Tidal Tempest is in my opinion the best water level in any Sonic game. While the design is classic Sonic underwater labyrinth at its best, it stands out above the rest for other reasons. It has a dazzling soundtrack that really creates a gloomy underwater atmosphere. This music creates at atmosphere that I might imagine while being panic stricken and frantically searching for any opportunity to breathe. It gives you glimpses of hope, and of darkness, making the track pretty substantial. Tidal Tempest also gives us a unique spin on a classic Sonic 2 boss. Being completely submerged, you will have to breathe by hitting bubbles that surround Robotnik. Hitting these bubbles will also open an opportunity to strike him, unless you can’t avoid the lasers he shoots. Tidal Tempest really makes you feel Sonic’s struggle with the underwater world.
11 – Casino Night Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
A casino themed zone was a first for the Sonic series, even if it has been reused several times; the concept was at one point original. Casino Night Zone has many bumpers and flippers that can be used to guide Sonic to slot machines. Spin a winning combo and score some serious loot! Flashing lights and casino decor add a Las Vegas vibe, as does the very fat cat like theme. Sonic can spin through a variety of other elements such as elevators and pinball launchers, both of which open up more paths to follow. Speaking of pinball, the boss battle with Robotnik plays similar to that of a pinball game.
10 – Sky Chase Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
Sega likes change things up every now and then, and that’s exactly what they did with Sky Chase Zone. Probably one of the most relaxing levels in the Sonic franchise, Sky Chase Zone takes place high in the sky with Tails driving the Tornado. Sonic is firmly perched on the plane and must attack enemies as they arrive on screen. It’s an automatically scrolling stage, so all you need to do is avoid and attack. Its music matches the slower pace with an incredibly relaxing tune. Sky Chase Zone gives us a new gameplay experience mixed with a wonderful theme song, what more could we ask of Sega?
9 – Wacky Workbench – Sonic CD (Sega CD)
A unique stage, Wacky Workbench is exactly that, Wacky. At the bottom, the floors are decorated with a flashy bouncing material that will launch Sonic high above the level. After being launched, you will notice that there is also a lot of activity going on around the top of the stage. There are a countless number of moving platforms and even some alternate paths to take if you want to avoid the floor’s rubber property. However, it can be a lot of fun to just bounce around the stage.
8 – Chemical Plant Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
Chemical Plant Zone is a favourite from my childhood. It’s full of life both with its soundtrack, and the fantastic level design. There are a number of tubes that will take you to various parts of the stage, making it a very much like a maze. Other than the tubes, there are a lot of classic Sonic elements as well. Long sloped stretches will have Sonic moving at top speed in no time, and loops populate the zone, of course. In the background you can see a city skyline that adds a lot of character. Hazards such as water and brilliantly placed enemies can pose a threat, but that’s what makes the level even better. Throw in the dance like theme and you have an incredible level from top to bottom.
7 – Stardust Speedway – Sonic CD (Sega CD)
To be honest, this level almost didn’t make the cut. At first glance it may look like a pretty standard Sonic stage, and it would be if it weren’t for a big twist. Stardust Speedway stands out with a tense boss battle. It’s not your average boss battle either; it’s more like a race. Throughout the stage you will be chased down by Robotnik who is trying to obliterate you with a huge laser. OK, so Robotnik is on your case again, no big deal. However, as mentioned before, this is a race, against Metal Sonic. He’s fast and mean, and to beat him you will have to cross the finish gate first. If not you will fall victim to Robotnik’s laser.