Sonic Origins (PC) Review

By Neil Flynn 04.07.2022

Review for Sonic Origins on PC

Sonic the Hedgehog's 30th birthday came and went pretty quickly and while there are many things happening in other realms of entertainment, from TV shows and movies, there hasn't been much movement pertaining to Sonic's video game appearances outside of updates to mobile game offerings plus a remastering of Sonic Colours, titled Sonic Colours Ultimate. Sonic Frontiers is the next leap forward and will represent the first mainline entry in the series since Sonic Forces released in 2017. On the 2D front, Sonic Mania Plus was simply a masterpiece to behold, improving and adding to the already sublime Sonic Mania, also from 2017. It is quite crazy to think that there have been two Hollywood blockbuster movies from the Blue Blur since these two games released and no new, original video game accompaniment, especially when the franchise is hot. To help tide over until the next big adventure awaits, SEGA and Sonic Team have compiled the first five mainline games in the series, released on Sonic's 31st birthday, but is this collection enough to warrant the price tag?

Sonic Origins is exactly what it says it is, an origins collection of Sonic The Hedgehog's first four mainline outings including Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The standout features include remastered and visual upgrades to some of the sprite work and a few new modes and options that players can experience for the first time, such as the new Story Mode. Story mode connects all the games together to play through one coherent playthrough in the aforementioned order of Sonic The Hedgehog through to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, with each game receiving brand new pre- and post-game cutscenes linking the games together. These cutscenes are done in the same excellent art style as the Sonic Mania Adventures shorts, although unfortunately these are much shorter in length, normally lasting between 30 seconds to 1 minute each. The immersive cohesion from going between game to game is a little disorienting since the credits for each game run at the end of each game. It would have been preferable to have one long credits sequence at the end of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but this is only a slight bug-bear, as other than this it is more than serviceable. Games can be saved and resumed from Starposts in any Act with all rings intact from where it was left off, and that isn't just available in Story mode but also in Anniversary and Classic mode in any of the games.

Screenshot for Sonic Origins on PC

Anniversary mode are the games that were reworked using Christian Whitehead's Retro Engine that were seen on iOS and Android, including having a widescreen display and retouched visuals. Anniversary mode adds in the idea of infinite lives, although 100 rings and 1-UP boxes will now earn players a 'Coin', which can then be used to replay a failed special stage or to spend in the in-game museum (more about that later). The ability to play as Tails in every game is great although there isn't an option to select Sonic and Tails to play together in the original Sonic The Hedgehog. However, Knuckles is also playable in everything except Sonic CD, which is a bit of shame given that Tails is in there. Anniversary mode boasts Sonic Mania's drop dash, although the execution of it isn't as well implemented in the first three Sonic games compared to Sonic 3 & Knuckles or how it is in Sonic Mania. There is also the persistent bug of the 2P Tails getting trapped in parts of the stage and then struggling to escape, rather than resetting as he would normally do, which results in him constantly making the jumping sound effect. This is something that also persists in the Classic Mode as well. Classic Mode is intended to be the original classics without the Anniversary bells and whistles, no infinite lives and coins to cheekily retry special stages. The 16:9 widescreen is replaced with the 4:3 aspect ratio and there is no more drop dash. Strangely though Sonic can spin dash in first game, which is not something he could in the original. Just in case pushing right to get to the end of zone got a little boring then Mirror mode flips the games to now needing to go from right to left, just to spice things up, and it will certainly mess with the muscle memory for many experienced veterans of the franchise.

Screenshot for Sonic Origins on PC

The Museum acts as a store front to spend the in-game currency of Coins, which can be spent on music, illustrations and movies. Most, if not all, of these bonuses have been seen before in various other Sonic games, and arguably there is a ton of extras that SEGA could have included from those games to bulk out the Museum a little more. Given that the unlockable extras only cost 5 coins each it can be pretty easy to earn enough coins to unlock the bulk of the additional content quite early on. If players are struggling to find enough Coins to purchase Museum content, then the new Missions mode is a fun and enjoyable new mode that will entertain fans for a short period of time and earn some decent coinage as well. Missions are comprised of repurposing parts of zones from the various included Sonic games in the collection and adding objectives such as "collect X number of rings in X time", "destroy X number of enemies and reach the goal", and "avoid enemy attacks while doing X", with each Mission rewarding coins based on performance ranging from S-Rank to C-Rank. Arguably this is probably one of the best elements of the collection. Sure, having some of the benefits added in from Anniversary mode are great, but Mission mode brings in a whole new set of challenges.

Screenshot for Sonic Origins on PC

Unfortunately, there are many bugs that have wormed their way into all games featured in Sonic Origins, perhaps due to the fact that these games aren't being emulated but rather remastered mobile ports. It could also be due to the split development of the games between Sonic Team and indie darlings Headcannon, who had more than a helping hand in Sonic Mania. Bugs and glitches are present where there weren't any before, which in a sense have brought along their own challenges, such as the Drop Dash not being quite implemented in the way it was intended or the aforementioned Tails getting lost in a level and constantly jumping. There are various SFX issues such as with collecting rings and missing vocals in Sonic CD, or in Sonic 3 & Knuckles' Special Stages the music doesn't speed up like it is supposed to. The soundtrack is also another contentious point, with numerous zones in Sonic 3 & Knuckles having audio tracks changed due to potential licensing issues that have allegedly plagued this title since circa 1994. The newer version perhaps takes away the authenticity of the original games, although despite this, if there are indeed licensing or moral issues then it is understandable as to why the tracks are not intact as they once were. It must also be noted that at the time of writing there are two different versions of Sonic Origins, each containing varying levels of digital bonuses, with the Digital Deluxe Edition unlocking a number of these bonuses which include small add-ons such character animations in the menu or for the add-ons to be purchased into two DLC packs. It is unnecessarily convoluted and quite a shabby tactic to charge extra for a few extra music tracks or camera controls and character animations. People may also have their take on the value that the Deluxe package offers at £36.99, with other Sonic collections in the past costing a similar amount but having far more games and bonuses included in them, such as the Sonic Mega Collection Plus package which is 20 years old.

Screenshot for Sonic Origins on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

On one hand there are 4 great games in Sonic Origins, all are well cherished by Sonic fans, and are games that are considered some of the best in the Sonic franchise. Players might not even notice some of the glitches if they have never played Sonic, some long-time veterans might not even encounter them, but then on the other hand, these games, which have been out on the market for 25 years or more, cost a premium price with so many bugs and glitches present. Anniversary mode, Story mode and Mission mode will certainly be a refreshing change of pace for those that have completed these games dozens of times and it's fun while it lasts, but the package falls short by not including more than previous collections.

The Review has been based on the Steam Deck version of the game.

Developer

Sonic Team

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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