In 1994, Sega released one of the coolest gimmicks of the console wars: lock-on technology. The first, and only time, Sega utilized the concept was in Sonic & Knuckles, which featured a cartridge that could "lock-on" to two previously released Sonic games: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Doing so gave players the ability to play as Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic's place in both of those games. More than 25 years later, Sega and developer M2 are currently hard at work on an upcoming Sega Ages re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. When the title releases on Nintendo Switch later this year, it will also grant players the option of playing the lock-on version starring Knuckles, as well!
When the lock-on concept first debuted, it was very much a gimmick on Sega's part. The content in Sonic & Knuckles was actually meant to appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, but development was behind, and the publisher needed to release the title in order to time it with an upcoming McDonald's Happy Meal promotion (believe it or not). Rather than delay Sonic 3, Sega made the decision to remove some of the content and release it later that year as a separate game. Thus, the lock-on technology was used to make the previously unplayable Knuckles a playable character in Sonic 3. For good measure, Sega also added the character to Sonic 2, as well, making the entire thing feel a bit more substantial, and giving the game a brilliant marketing angle.
With the Sega Ages line, Sega and M2 have always looked for ways to make the older content worth a new purchase. For example, the original Sonic the Hedgehog Sega Ages game featured a number of extras from previous re-releases, most notably moves from later Sonic games. While the Knuckles the Echidna version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been made available in other forms in the past, the Sega Ages release will mark the first time this particular version has been available in nearly a decade.0comments
Sadly, fun gimmicks like lock-on technology are very much a thing of the past. But when Sonic & Knuckles released back in 1994, there was nothing like it. When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 releases on Nintendo Switch later this year, fans can experience part of the gimmick and see for themselves!
Did you play Sonic & Knuckles back when it released? Do you plan on picking up the Sega Ages release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!