Sonic is back, but this time as a collection of older titles instead of something brand new. New Sonic games tend to have all sorts of issues, so surely a straight remaster of older ones would not? Well, not exactly.
Sonic Origins is a collection of four games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. Each is presented in two formats: Classic Mode, which plays like the games were on their original platforms and then Anniversary Mode, which adds widescreen support and removes lives. Both have their merits, but the widescreen support added by Anniversary Mode absolutely elevates the experience and is easily one of the game’s best features.
And of course, the games themselves are great, Fast and fun gameplay with a great mix of platforming, diverse level design with all sorts of interesting stuff to find, and just the right amount of challenge. I’ve always liked how freeform Sonic’s gameplay is and how open the levels were and these four games are no exception.
The original game is perhaps the roughest of the bunch, but easily has some of the most memorable stages. The second game is the most difficult of the bunch, but has some of the best music. The third game – which I had never played before – has the most balanced gameplay of the bunch and honestly might be my favorite. CD – which I had also never played – is a bit of a weird one, combining some of the good aspects of the others, but I was not a fan of the time travel mechanic and boss fights; it’s probably my least favorite of the bunch.
So at the bare minimum, the included games are fun. The question is then – do the changes made to these classics make the collection worth it? That’s a bit of an iffy one. On one hand, the package is a bit more expensive than I was expecting for a collection of four old games – $40 USD with a $45 USD deluxe version.
With that price tag, I wish the game had included more classic Sonic games like the 2005 release, Sonic Gems Collection, did. For starters, Knuckles’ Chaotix would have been an excellent addition, but Sonic Chaos, Sonic Triple Trouble, and the Sonic Advance games would have been great too.
Anyways, aside from the lack of games – the collection does have a few other problems. Take quality of life for example. These are old classics ported to modern platforms without the usual features we get with such releases, such as save states or the ability to rewind. I can do without the latter, but save states would have been super cool to have here and that is something that straight emulation does objectively better than this collection.
I also was not the biggest fan of whatever filter was used to scale these games up. It looks a bit blurry and nowhere near as crisp as I would have liked – even when messing around with settings like resolution and anti-aliasing (which I recommend you keep disabled). As it stands, it does take some getting used to.
The collection does do good in its addition of new game modes though, including boss rush, mirror mode (which flips the level layouts), and a mission mode that adds a bunch of new objectives. Not all of those missions land, but it’s a nice addition regardless. The museum mode is a nice touch too, allowing access to artwork, music, and videos. Granted, it was a bit disappointing to see museum content locked behind a coin system – requiring you to go through mission mode just to earn enough. Of course, it’s optional content regardless, so not a huge issue.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this collection though is how buggy it is, particularly on the audio front. In every game, I had audio cutting out too early, audio repeatedly playing even when not doing anything, muffled music, and in a few cases – the audio completely bugging out and playing nonstop loud and annoying sounds. And while I have not noticed any collision or physics issues – that also appears to be a common complaint.
The collection is obviously a rushed job and you need look no further than the very devs that worked on it stating as such. Apparently there was some sort of disconnect there between the remaster devs and the actual finished product, leading to many strange bugs.
So while I cannot give Sonic Origins a straight positive recommendation, I also cannot say that it’s entirely negative either. On one hand, yeah these are some absolutely solid classics and I am glad they are available on modern platforms for all to play, but on the other, the collection itself is lacking and there are quite a few technical issues on top of that. A disappointment on that front, but I also must admit I did have fun with the games in spite of the issues.
Quote: Sonic Origins packages together some absolutely solid classics with some nice upgrades, but is itself lacking in content and introduces some strange new issues not present in the original games.
Sonic Origins retails for $40 USD on Steam, but you can get an official Steam key for 10% off using my Gamesplanet partner link. This also applies to the Deluxe Edition. Gamesplanet is also running a bunch of summer deals right now, plenty even cheaper than the current Steam summer sale – including stuff like BlazBlue and a whole lot of Sega games, so give it a look if you’re interested.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.