The designers of “Sonic the Hedgehog” must have had a woefully misinformed knowledge of animal physiology to make such a lethargic animal so fast. When I purchased my pet hedgehog at age 7, I was disappointed to find he didn’t wear running shoes, didn’t spin at high enough velocities to destroy any animal in his path and certainly didn’t run loop-de-loops and bounce off flippers and bumpers like a pinball.

My hedgehog mostly just laid around, curling up in a ball whenever a finger would touch him. Sonic used this same technique to fend off mechanical crabs and robot chickens.

I only bought this hedgehog – and named him Sonic, of course – as a replacement for a game I rarely got to play. I was a Super Nintendo kid. When kids of my generation reached a certain age, usually 6 or 7, our parents – sometimes under the guise of “Santa Claus” – bought us a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. We usually had no say in which one we received, and even if we did, our parents could never understand the difference between the two systems anyway.

The thing is, whichever system your parents brought home would be integral in sculpting your early conception of video games. Sure, if you were a Sega kid you’d go to your friend Sam’s house to play “Super Mario World,” but you had your allegiances.

No matter how many hours you wasted away in Sam’s basement drinking orange soda and playing “Mario,” you always liked “Sonic the Hedgehog” better. But I was the opposite: I was a Nintendo kid, raised on “Super Mario All-Stars,” and I believe this is why, 12 years after my parents bought me Super Nintendo, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” seems absolutely fucking amazing.

The brilliance of “Sonic 2” is that, after seeing just a few seconds of footage, you would assume it’s a generic platform game that suckles at Mario’s teat – with an even more expendable sidekick, the orange fox Miles “Tails” Prower.

If playing Mario is like a fun run through a paranormal wonderland, playing “Sonic 2” is like a roller coaster with broken brakes and harnesses through a quasi-futuristic underworld.

King of this underworld is mad scientist Dr. Robotnik, who lusts after the seven Chaos Emeralds needed to power his new warship. In his free time, he transformed all the animals on Sonic’s home of Westside Island into malevolent robots. Sonic’s task – with a little help from his floating friend Tails – is to free his animal buddies and collect the emeralds first.

“Sonic 2” creates a stark contrast to “Mario” by playing up Sonic’s one crowning attribute over the mustachioed one – speed. Whereas the original “Sonic is fettered by slow-moving screens and excessive obstacles, Sonic in “Sonic 2” runs like a coke addict trying to catch a midnight cab. With fewer enemies and pitfalls than the original, there’s very little in “2” to slow the hero down.

Does this addition of speed make “Sonic 2” revolutionary enough to be held in the same annals as “Mario”? Probably not. But it does welcome a debate: Which is the more admirable video game hero characteristic, strength or speed? This was what Sega let gamers decide when they made Sonic’s fast flashiness a counterpoint to Mario’s meticulous jump-attacks. Mario moves slowly but rarely gets hit, while Sonic gets smacked around all the time (with the game’s system of collecting rings for health, there is virtually no limit to the amount of times Sonic can get hit).

So the question is, would you rather have something done right or done fast? Remember the tortoise and the hare?

I’d rather have something done right, but then again, I was a Nintendo kid.

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