The original Sonic the Hedgehog games are timeless classics, they really are. And so that’s why it’s great to find that SEGA has done them justice in Sonic Origins.
Bundling together Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Origins is not only a collection of some of the best Sonic games ever made, but also a celebration of them. Each title has been remastered, making their visuals pop off the screen in widescreen format. And on top of that, new game modes have been added such as Boss Rush and Missions, the latter tasking Sonic fans to overcome a wide range of challenges. Throw in a substantial museum, and you have a collection that no Sonic fan should be without.
With Sonic now over 30 years old, it’s the Anniversary modes of each of the games included in this collection that are perhaps going to get the most attention. Its here where the remastered visuals fill the screen, and subtle changes to the gameplay have been implemented to make each game more suitable for modern audiences.
The lives system is removed, for example, so players aren’t forced to start back at the beginning should they fail too often. An autosave system is also in place, so each game doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting. And drop dash has been implemented so players can better keep momentum.
But it’s more substantial changes, like new cinematic openings and endings for each game and a new Gold Coin system that really stand out. With the new cinematics in place, each game is better connected with one another. The scenes are also just a pleasure to watch thanks to their beautiful, crisp animations.
The Gold Coin system, on the other hand, is a way to help players collect all the Chaos Emeralds within each title by allowing them to retry special stages. With lives thrown out of the window, Gold Coins can be gained by collecting 100 rings, smashing TVs and in numerous other ways. They’re not just useful for retrying special stages, either; they can also be used to unlock premium content in Sonic Origins‘ museum.
Related: Read our Review of Sonic Mania
For most, there will be no better way to play Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2 and so on than these Anniversary offerings. It’s just a shame that there’s no way to play with the traditional lives system outside of Classic mode, which is strictly presented in a 4:3 format with borders at either side of the screen. The real kicker, though, is when it comes to the soundtrack of Sonic 3. As expected, numerous tracks have had to be changed due to legal reasons, and the substitutes just don’t have the same character or energy. Newcomers probably won’t notice or care. But those who have spent hours playing the original Sonic 3 will be disappointed indeed.
Still, it’s hard to be mad with Sonic Origins for something that’s out of SEGA’s control. And other extras more than make up for a handful of sub-par soundtrack substitutions. Being able to take on each game’s bosses one after another is good fun, for example. And then there’s the Missions mode that we mentioned earlier. Each game has its own selection of Missions for you to complete, challenging you to navigate bespoke platforming sections, collect a number of rings in a set amount of time, and a whole lot more. Your performance is graded, too, with more Gold Coins on offer for those who do well.
It’s fairly redundant, but there’s even a new Story mode in this release, allowing you to play through all four games in succession. And upon completing each game its Mirror mode becomes available, challenging players to make their way from right to left in each stage instead of left to right, which is surprisingly mind-blowing.
There are global leaderboards that make it easy to replay each stage you’ve completed, too. To reach the top spot you’ve “gotta go fast!” as Sonic would say. It’s quite addictive.
Each Sonic game presented here in Sonic Origins has something that makes it stand out from the rest. But they all share a certain magic that means we return to them, time and time again, year after year; that’s why this collection exists, after all. And it’s thanks to this collection that yet more players, young and old, are going to be able to enjoy these classics. Hardcore Sonic fans will rue the music changes in Sonic 3, for sure, but everything else new or tweaked here is for the better. Sonic’s 3D offerings over the years have been sketchy at best, but as long as we can still enjoy his origins, we’ll love him regardless.