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IDK. Most Sonic levels are a bit rough on the first playthrough. With levels like Labyrinth Zone, Metropolis Zone and even Modern levels such as Eggmanland or even Jungle Joyride. The point is SA2 isn't the first Sonic game (or any game for that matter) to rely on replay value.SA2, as with all Sonic games, is all about the replay value. The treasure levels shine when the player knows them well enough to speedrun them. The problem is that the 1st time playing the levels is rough and 1st impressions are everything. Overall the levels are too big for their own good.
Also nerfing the radar from how it worked in SA1 (being able to detect multiple shards at once) made no sense.
True every game has its low points. But I guess I see it a bit differently than you.SA2 had the missions and rankings, of course it was designed around replays. Individual bad levels =\= an entire style of gameplay being flawed. Every video game has it low points, should that excuse the outright awful games?