While fans often debate the merits of the modern Sonic the Hedgehog video game, the consensus is that the ’90s were the franchise’s most consistently great years. Sonic Origins gathers the four games most responsible for that notion, delivering a stellar group of classic titles at its core. But through numerous modernizations and updates, Sonic Origins makes a strong case for being the best official way to experience Sonic’s heyday in 2022.
The four games in this collection – Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and Sonic CD – are surprisingly fun to play through. Sure, some of the disappointing design elements of Sonic 1 and CD haven’t aged as gracefully as the other two games, but they’re all authentic classics in the 2D platforming genre. Speeding through the Chemical Plant Zone is just as fun today as it was on Genesis, and I couldn’t stop the smile on my face if I tried it when I played the opening scene of Sonic 3.
Sonic Origins gives easy access to all four of these favorite titles with new, gorgeously animated, booked cutscenes. You can play them in Classic mode, with the original aspect ratio and limited-life system preserved, or you can play your favorite Anniversary Mode. Here, the aspect ratio fits seamlessly onto widescreen monitors, Sonic can access drop-dash moves from Sonic Mania, and the limited-life system is removed. Instead of earning extra lives through playing in Anniversary Mode, you earn coins, which can be traded in for cool digital collectibles like old pictures, videos, music and even snippets from Sonic 30th Anniversary Symphony performances at the museum. can go. These items are likely to be available online, but these are nice festive bonuses at the in-game museum.
However, my favorite thing to do with my coins was using them as extra effort in difficult special stages. No matter the game, there are few moments in these early Sonic titles more frustrating than failing at a particular stage and knowing that you need to find another entry point to try again. The coin system in Anniversary Mode alleviates that frustration without taking the stress off because you still have to execute nearly perfect races to claim the prize.
For new experience seekers, Mission Mode lets you tackle remixed experiences within the stages of each of the four titles. Completing objectives such as defeating a certain number of enemies or collecting a certain number of rings earns you additional coins and placement on the leaderboard. While the missions start out simple, as you unlock more of them, they offer plenty of surprises and fun twists for longtime fans. Plus, once you’ve completed a game for the first time, you unlock Mirror Mode, where you can play the steps from right to left. Lastly, each game has a Boss Rush mode, where you can constantly fight off the biggest baddies. Mirror Mode and Boss Rush are entertaining variations, but I don’t see myself playing backwards through the entire game or attempting the Boss Gauntlet more than twice.
While the games are faithfully represented and still plenty of fun to play, some audio issues tarnish the experience. In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, some use different music than in the Zone Genesis releases, seemingly due to licensing issues for the original track. Zones like Ice Cap and Launch Base don’t feel the same without their iconic tracks spurring the action. The different music removes much of the nostalgia of these steps, and the replacement songs are significantly weaker than the original track. Still, if Sonic 3’s exclusion from the alternative bundle was there, I’d be missing out on those songs instead of what’s arguably the best game in the saga.
But the most serious audio issue comes in the Sonic 2. In that game, if Tails is left behind (which is often the case), he jumps incessantly instead of coming back to you and flying, repeating the sound until you either enter a particular stage. triggers. Complete the level, or one of you dies. The issue overshadows that game’s excellent soundtrack and I often mute it to make playing through it tolerable.
While the music changes and audio crashes are disappointing, the Sonic Origins package is great overall. It’s extremely satisfying to have the best versions of the classic Sonic saga in one bundle, and the Anniversary Mode’s enhancements make the experience of playing through them more enjoyable than ever. Even in a gaming landscape where most of these games are already available to download on every platform, Sonic Origins is a worthwhile package.