The iconic blue hedgehog is back in an all-new collection that spans four of his earliest and most beloved adventures.
Let me frank right off the bat: if you've played Sonic the Hedgehog or pretty much any of the earliest titles in this iconic series, then you realistically know what Sonic Origins is serving up. This isn't a remake or drastic alteration of the classic retro video games. No. This is more a collection of some of the series' best, a collection that bolsters and improves the experience with some welcome handy features. So, the point is, this isn't anything particularly exciting or unique, as these Sonic games have been relaunched countless times in the past anyway. But, for anyone who has yet to experience the initial outings of Sega's mascot character, Sonic Origins is the way to do it. Let me explain why.
From a gameplay perspective, everything has been preserved and served up the same way that we know it. The pixel art style is still instantly memorable and vibrant, and the simplistic yet challenging to master control scheme stands the test of time for its ingenuity and depth. If you're playing on a controller, this is one of few video games these days where the D-pad is actually the better control method, but that being said, you can use the analog sticks if you so please. Everything that made Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD great, including the various special stages, the unique and straightforward boss fights, and the ability to play as not just Sonic, but also his compatriots Tails and Knuckles, it's all here again. And as I mentioned earlier, it's all still excellent and serves as an instant example of why this character has survived and as of late, embraced the test of time.
But, this is a new game and with that comes new features. One of these that becomes apparent when booting the game up is the new animated scenes that pop up at the start and end of each game. These give a little extra charisma to the whole experience, and you can even unlock a whole list of them by spending Gold Coins in the Museum, coins that are earned and found throughout playing each of the four games. You can even use these coins to unlock concept art and illustrations, all to learn that little bit more about how Sega and Sonic Team brought this franchise to life. It's a cool addition, but that's about all it is.
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Otherwise, another major area comes in the new 16:9 aspect ratio support, meaning you're no longer confined to playing this title in a 4:3 window despite using TVs and monitors that ditched that format years ago. With this, you can see more of each level and can experience the beauty of what was crafted unlike ever before, and if anything it makes it very challenging to go back and play through these games in their original format - which, if you so desire, you can also do in Sonic Origins.
Aside from these additions, the other thing to note is the various game modes that Sonic Origins boasts. Between the unlockable Mirror Modes, which do pretty much what you would expect of them, to the Anniversary Mode, which is the same as the original way to play except there are no restrictions on lives - there are a few different ways to experience Sonic's stories. And the real cream of the crop is the Mission Mode, which lets you play through all four games as a seamless experience, one where it even tracks your progress through each act of each stage of each game. And, I'll say it once again: these four games still stand up as incredible titles, games that every fan of gaming should play through at least once.
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But, Sonic Origins tagline is "Classic Sonic re-defined", and while there are new areas and features, this still feels remarkably familiar and similar to what we've seen for 30 years. It's this very point that leaves me a little baffled by this collection of games, as it really doesn't feel like you're paying for the four included titles, but rather the batch of additional extras (music tracks, animations, illustrations etc.) that can be unlocked within. It's all presented very well, plays incredibly smoothly, will entertain retro and platforming fans alike - but at the same time, if you've seen it once, there's not much extra to need to see here.
And this is where I stand with Sonic Origins. Yes, it's a nice way to celebrate over 30 years of the blue hedgehog, but at the same time, the very existence of this collection and the fact that the standalone versions of each game have been delisted to make way for it leave me wondering why this needed to be created in the first place. Especially when considering the perplexing variety of versions on offer. So long story short: Sonic Origins is a collection of slightly enhanced great games repurposed in a complex fashion for the latest era of gaming.
7 / 10
The four games are still amazing. 16:9 aspect ratio is a welcome improvement.
No real innovation. If you've played each game once, you've pretty much seen what Sonic Origins is offering.