Sonic Origins Review

Gaming
7.5

Good

Sonic Origins

Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $39.99 – Available Here

Overview

As a kid in the early 90’s, I was absolutely a Sega kid all the way. Sonic was just kind of the mascot I was handed, so supporting the blue blur came natural to myself. All these years (and re-releases) later, and Sega have compiled Sonic Origins, a collection that features the first three titles, as well as Sonic CD. Is this new package worth the higher investment, or is this one collection worth skipping? Let’s find out. 

Story 

Sonic fights Robotnik. Sonic frees animals. Knuckles and Metal Sonic appear as part-time antagonists. I mean, I think most will know the plot of all these titles. Instead of dwelling on story, I want to focus on how these titles were compiled here, as they tell a bit of a story just from the efforts of the compilation. From the start, players have free access to jump into multiple versions of all four titles. Each has been celebrated well enough, with a “Story Mode” that has the player attempt to beat all four games in succession. It’s a fine package and I will admit, Story mode is an interesting idea on paper as it does offer proper incentive to go through each title. That said, there are some glaring omissions to the mascot’s history, with the spin-offs and other demanded high notes being completely ignored. I do not think it is too big of an ask to see at least the same Spinball and Mean Bean Machine bundled into this package, but alas, we only see platformer fare on display throughout. 

Gameplay 

These titles have held up extremely well, and each play just as fluid as they ever have, adding in spin-dashes to the original and minor adjustments throughout that add quality of life to the original products. I mean, most of these additions are nothing new, as they have all appeared in ports over the years and while I think Sega did well by offering enhanced selections, I could have been just as content with only seeing the raw product when it comes to the games, so everything is a plus in that respect.  

As I played through Sonic: The Hedgehog, it made me respect the development of these titles. You see, back then – platformers were about trust between the player and the developer. Sonic was never a trial-and-error experience, but instead one focused on speed and fluidity of the stage design, where players had to pace themselves to succeed. As they learned the ins and outs of the game, they would go faster with more confidence, trying to blast through without missing a beat as they attempted to best a time or score. Modern 2D fare (and I’m even speaking about more recent Sonic games here) focus on moments of this but seem to fluster on creating an entire cohesive level that comes without a disconnect. I know, it’s an odd observation to make in this review, but one I feel is needed as I still have a lot of love and passion for how well-crafted the originals truly are, and how well they hold up for new and older players alike. 

I am in my mid-thirties now, and the reason that is important is that I have seen and played literally every compilation of these titles released to date. While there is an apparent celebration happening in the menus and museum of the game, the package just doesn’t quite have enough content to justify a revisit compared to those other ports. Sure, we have Sonic 3 and Knuckles after a long absence, but the music has been adjusted due to rights issues. We also can do a Mission Mode and even a boss rush, but Sega had enough material in the franchise to fill this to the brim and make it sing more than any other compilation to date. Why not throw in Amy, or Cream, or even give us some unlockable videos or content that has never been seen if you are truly trying to do a nearly full-priced release? 

In context of just Sonic Origins, sure – it has all the goods, and some are going to love exploring these titles all over again. The issue is that Sega have released these titles several times during every generation since they were released, and there is nothing new outside of some animations and minor modes that warrant re-entry at this time. I spent most of my time in Mission Mode and loved the challenges like beating a level with a set number of rings and other handicaps, but I would have loved to see more flare added to make this into more of a spectacle, rather than just an average port and repackage that seems to be targeting Sonic’s recent cinematic successes – rather than its core audience who kept him propped up after all these years. 

Visuals 

Visually, these titles look mostly great outside of a few blurry moments that I kind of lump into age. The menus look spectacular, and the museum is always a welcome feature, giving us some nice artwork and goodies to unlock as a reward for completion. There are even animated intros added that give the games a new sense of freshness. Again, I still wish we could have gotten some extra skins or even a change in visuals outside of the “classic” and “anniversary” modes, but many will be pleased with the graphics and design choices overall. 

Audio

The audio is kind of controversial as Sonic 3 is missing its original soundtrack. I get the music rights issues have happened due to a lot of legal snags, but it is obvious and something long-time fans may be a bit bummed about. Otherwise, the OST is still phenomenal, but I do think being able to change the jukebox in game (like we saw in Generations) would have been an excellent feature that has been snubbed from this release. The selling point is that these games were rebuilt rather than emulated for modern platforms, and that does show – but without much love to the music that creates the atmosphere and momentum for the experience also being a highlight – you have a package that looks new but still feels more of the same. 

Overall 

I did not want to go into this review of Sonic Origins and speak of “could have been” situations. Sega, however, have repackaged these ports so many times that we, as consumers, know the potential of the product and what can be done. Sonic is a franchise I hold close and care about, and I am elated to see these titles play so well in their new format and packaging. There is so much good you can say about the original titles, but it’s already been said so many times already. Sonic Origins comes so close to feeling like an epic re-entry, but instead seems to settle on being yet another compilation that lacks a definitive feel and scope to give us that burst of energy needed to re-invigorate interest from older fans. This is indeed the Sonic you know and love, but one that should have come with a lower price and a little more love. 

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

Sonic is back to tread in his past in a compilation that feels a bit too familiar for its own good.
7.5

Good

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