Sonic the Hedgehog is like a 16-bit Skyrim: SEGA has re-released the Mega Drive classics on just about every platform you can think of, and it shows no sign of stopping. The latest effort is Sonic Origins, a collection that brings Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD to modern consoles under one banner. Even if we've all played these games a thousand times, there's still value in revisiting old-school favourites — and this compilation's extra bells and whistles present the quadrilogy in a fresh and interesting way.
To start with, the games themselves remain a mostly great selection of platformers. What's interesting about playing them one after the other is how the series changes and improves over time. The inaugural adventure introduces Sonic's satisfying, momentum-based movement but doesn't fully capitalise on it, with many zones forcing you to play slowly. Sonic CD is a really interesting diversion incorporating time travel; destroy Eggman's robot-producing contraption in the past to create a better future. Stages are consequently much more open, allowing you to search for time gates and build up enough speed to reach different time periods.
Sonic 2 gets back to traditional stages and bosses, improving on the first title with superior level design that leans into the character's abilities far more. Finally, Sonic 3 & Knuckles builds yet again with intricate stages, more varied boss encounters, the trio of shield power-ups, and more. It's a shame you can't play Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles separately, but hey, at least they're here. All the games have weak spots — traps you can't see coming are an annoyance throughout, and some Special Stages can be painful — but it remains a pleasure to blast through them.
And you're given multiple ways to do so. Anniversary Mode presents each game in widescreen, with unlimited lives and the ability to drop-dash, cribbed from Sonic Mania. Meanwhile, Classic Mode presents the game in their original 4:3 format, finite lives, and no drop dash. You can choose either Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles in each game too, although the latter isn't an option in CD.
While you can enjoy each game on its own, a Story Mode strings all four titles together into one long adventure. You won't miss out on anything if you don't play it, but it is interesting to experience all the games as though they're one continuous saga. Whether you play this way or enjoy them piecemeal, a very neat addition sees each title bookended by brand new animated intros and outros. These are wonderful, short interludes that provide just a little extra context to Sonic's games. Similarly, Sonic Origins itself has great opening and closing animations in the same style, making the package feel consistent.
One major addition in Origins is Coins. Earned by playing Anniversary Mode (and more we'll get into shortly), this is a persistent currency that has a couple of uses. First and foremost, you can spend a Coin in order to retry a Special Stage, which is incredibly handy if you want to unlock Super Sonic but struggle with those inconsistently tricky challenges.
The other main use for Coins is to unlock certain items in the Museum. The Museum is where you'll find music, artwork, and movies, and there's lots to enjoy. Some of these will unlock automatically as you play through the games, while others require some Coins. Examples of these "premium" pieces include some Sonic Generations music tracks, original character reference sheets from back in the day, and animatics showing in-progress versions of all the new cutscenes. There's a fair amount to delve into here that fans will enjoy picking through, although you will need hundreds of Coins if you want everything.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get Coins, one of which is Mission Mode. These are short challenges based upon each Sonic title, and they vary in type and difficulty. One might be to defeat a certain number of a particular enemy before reaching the goal, while another will see you traversing a level with zero rings. Your completion time affects your rank, and higher ranks award you more Coins. It's a simple addition, but there's nice variety here and the missions are set in purpose-built stages — you can't auto-pilot through these.
Elsewhere, Boss Rush is a self-explanatory mode for each game; you have three lives to defeat all the bosses in a row, most of them with no rings. Completing Boss Rush earns you yet more Coins, as does playing Mirror Mode, which flips each game horizontally — surprisingly tough, even if you know Sonic's 16-bit games like the back of your hand. Finally, there are even brand new Blue Spheres stages to enjoy with new mechanics, which is a great bonus.
Everything in Sonic Origins is presented nicely, with three-dimensional islands representing each game or mode. It's a neat package that's organised pretty well, and all the games run perfectly and look and sound as you'd expect. There is an anti-aliasing option you can switch on, but this made the picture appear blurry more than anything, so we'd stick with the clean pixels.
The only thing that really lets the collection down is the rather stingy DLC. None of the extra bonuses are particularly meaningful, but it feels almost mean to put a paywall on things like extra music tracks from related games like Sonic Spinball, additional letterbox borders when playing Classic Mode, and extra animated characters on the islands in the main menu. The most hardcore fans might also lament the lack of particular tunes from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, replaced by music that was produced in the 90s but never finalised (until now). The new tracks aren't bad — some are actually pretty good — but they might take some getting used to if you're nostalgic for Carnival Night, Ice Cap, and Launch Base.
Sonic Origins presents four of the hedgehog's best games with style, and it's a joy to revisit these iconic platformers. Presentational flourishes like the animated cutscenes, as well as a host of extra modes like Boss Rush and Missions, give fans and newcomers alike plenty to see and do, and the Museum is full of interesting artwork you might not have seen before. Some stingy DLC practices let the side down, and of course, the games themselves have some 30-year-old weaknesses, but this is by-and-large a wonderful spin down memory lane.
Removed - off-topic; user is banned
I have the deluxe edition preordered for days. The preload is not available yet. I love those games; seems they did a good job. I may sound like a broken record, but I would love some DLC games like Spinball, the 8-bit games, Sonic 3D etc.
@Quintumply Have you tried the PS4 port?
@Bismarck Gordon Freeman would beat Sonic in a fight.
@Bismarck What a bizarre, pointless comparison. You might as well say that The Godfather is better than Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.
Sega genesis.probably the best video games consoles name ever.the old school sega genesis sonics games is always fun.word up son
@Bismarck I think World of Warcraft's fast traveling is almost as fast as Sonic but I never timed it.
I get why you can’t split S3&K; It was the original vision from the beginning now just fully realized.
It’s sort of like Castlevania 64 and Legacy of Darkness. Why play the original after you’ve got then better Legacy of Darkness version? Still, I understand why you’d want to if you’re a purist… but I see why the didn’t give the option.
I think the intention here was to include the best versions of each game and that’s what S3&K is to Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles separately.
No splitting Sonic 3 & Knuckles, guess you can't put random carts onto Sonic & Knuckles to play those bonus stages then.
I think what I'd like to see is a true realization of the Sonic & Knuckles snap technology. We've played all these games before, something new would be nice. So like a collection of genesis games, but you can pop Knuckles into any of those games. Play as Knuckles in Shining Force, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Comix Zone, and more.
This review has nudged me closer to picking Sonic Origins up, but it still seems a little thin in terms of content. I don’t like to harp on price because whether or not something is worth it varies wildly depending on the person, but there are quite a few retro collections that are stuffed with content for the same asking price or less.
@Milktastrophe Now, now! That's the metaverse talking. 😋
I’ve been on the fence with this because I’ve played these games so many times the nostalgia is just gone. I might get this later but it’s definitely not day 1.
Replayed some of 1 and 2 recently when playing through the Sega Megadrive Collection… and they still play pretty well tbh. I mean… they were never to the quality (imho) of the old 2D Super Mario games but there’s a reason that they’ve endured.
These Sonic games were always the pinnacle of 16 bit platforming for me, sorry Mario so I'm more than happy to have them on a modern platform. Its a shame they didn't go further in including the likes of Sonic Spinball or the rather great Master System entries, even that Sonic World from Sonic Jam but still I suspect I'll be playing these many times over yet again
"Sonics best games" is a question of taste. I think there are better entries like Sonic Rush or some 3D Adventures. But that's just my opinion
Its a pity they have so little respect for their fans by putting everything behind a paywall such a joke. Man this should have a complete package with a Genisis Case missed opportunity. Its sad to see that Limited Run Games has better idea how to give fans what they want then the big companies themselves.
I want an HD version like the Sonic 2 HD demo. It should at least be an option included in these collections. Am I being unreasonable with a request like this?
@ChromaticDracula That's a fair perspective!
oh ***** is it out now ? does pushsquare post release dates anywhere in their reviews ?
@nomither6 It's out in a couple of days, on the 23rd!
But those negative points seem a bit silly though.. Really? "Can't split Sonic 3 from Sonic and Knuckles"?
I do agree with the ridiculous paywall, however.
Is Classic Mode a true (well done) port of the originals, or are have Sega tinkered with the games?
@Mauzuri My thinking there is just it would be nice to have the option, as it's something you're able to do in older Sonic compilations (I believe). Not a huge negative either way!
@Sinton As far as I understand, Classic mode uses the same version of the game as the Anniversary mode, just modified to reflect the originals (4:3, no drop dash, limited lives etc).
Ah right! I am NOT looking forward to these special stages though.. Oh well, only one coin to retry is pretty good
@Quintumply Does PS5 have a 120 fps mode or is it just 4K 60?
The lock-on tech blew my mind when I was a kid. It would've been nice if they included a virtual simulation of that in this collection. This way players would have the option of playing the games separately, the way they originally released or locked on (a little animation would've been cool).
The changed music tracks in 3 is definitely going to be hard to get used to since that is a major factor in my fondness for that title.
I also would've liked if they offered a third mode where we could customize the settings from Anniversary and Classic modes to our liking, e.g., widescreen--on, ininite lives--off, etc. Maybe they'll eventually release an update similar to the Encore DLC for Mania.
Finally, it looks like this will only be getting a PS4 version and no native PS5 version. While this game probably wouldn't benefit much from the PS5's features, I could see haptic feedback and adaptive triggers adding a fun effect when spin dashing, bouncing around like a pinball, and with the elemental power-ups. Also, this is one of the few types of games that could likely run at 8K or 120 fps (not that I have a TV that supports either), so that's kind of a missed opportunity.
I'll definitely be picking this up eventually regardless. And I'm happy Sega is giving classic Sonic some attention since many of us fans who grew up with the originals find Sonic Team's 3D efforts too different from the original formula and mostly unappealing.
@Vix I don't think there are any alternate options on that front
@Vix It's unlikely since PS Store only has a PS4 version listed, unfortunately. It should be technically possible since I believe Rocket League had 120 fps support added to the PS4 version in an update. As for 4K 60, that should be supported since I'm pretty sure Sonic Mania ran at those settings on PS4 Pro.
@xDD90x I reviewed this natively on PS5. It's on both!
@Quintumply Oh, that's good to hear. Thank you!
It's a bit confusing though, because on the game's page on PS Store, it has the disclaimer at the top that only appears on PS4 listings--"Although this game is playable on PS5...". But now I see it also states "This product entitles you to download both the digital PS4 version and the digital PS5 version...".
Can you please confirm if there's programmed haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support?
@xDD90x No use of haptics or adaptive triggers, I'm afraid!
They completely butchered Ice Cap Zone’s music…
@blkmagic316 yeah this is exactly what i was hoping for.itd give a fresh perspective. Ive played these so many times. Love em and still play them but still its a bit steep the price for it, £20 id pay not £30 and even thats a bit much really for buying the same game for the 100th time. The 'DLC' paywall is ridiculous as well
Simple time.. before the series got bloated. Might buy it someday if I'm in the mood.
I'll buy it at some point as we all do for nostalgia. Great games in their time and still hold up incredibly well today. Once the price drops I'll invest in it.
Question. Does Sonic Origins contain the 8 bit versions? Not sure if they would be locked away in the vault bit or have Sega completely omitted them?
Frankly I got over the six MJ (really more Brad Buxer) tracks a while ago. The prototype tunes they're using are quite good in their own way, and I actually think they are better when it comes to the Act 2 variants. The MJ Act 2 tracks are all basically the same, but with less instrumentation and feel a bit half baked compared to how other zones would switch up the melodies - not so with the prototypes.
Also Carnival Night just kind of sucks outside of the Jam sample honestly. Plus it was pointed out to me that the replacement for Ice Cap has the same melody as Crystal Egg Zone from the 8-bit Sonic 2 and Ice Mountain from Sonic Advance so that's nice.
The original game is still my favourite, even though I had the 2nd game when it was released. Sonic 2 really put speed over platforming and for me, it was lacking something compared to the original. Sonic 3 I played a few years later and I never liked the art quite as much as the first two. I'm not nostalgic for the original Sonic 3 music either, as I first played it on Sonic Jam, so be interesed to hear the new tunes. I really would have liked to see the Master System games here, was playing Sonic on the Master System the other day, it's still fun and I like the original zones and 8-bit tunes. Even so, looks to be a good collection so I'll be picking it up, probably on Switch initially.
@MidnightDragonDX I'm pretty sure the space restriction is a myth actually. There had already been bigger games released before Sonic 3 & Knuckles, like Phantasy Star IV. They didn't want to delay the game so they split it in two.
Sonic 3’s music is some of the best ever.
For anyone complaining about "pay walls", all you have to do is buy the deluxe edition for a measly $5 more and you get everything included. I'm not certain how people can complain about getting 5 original games AND remasters, as well as the additional content for the price.
Game looks okay but not paying full price, will wait for $15 sale in 1 or 2 years.
Why would you want to split sonic 3 and S&K? The games were always meant to be a singular whole. That’s a very weak flaw to give it.
No Sonic Spinball, no sale.
Roll on payday, I will definitely be getting it
Got real excited when I read this review since I am a huge Sonic fan…until I realised it is digital download only….no physical release Grrr! Will wait (probably in vain) for a physical copy….sniff
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