SEGA once again are reminding us that the classic Sega Mega Drive Sonic games exist, in this newest collection called Sonic Origins, which is now out on Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and PS5. But there is more than 'just another collection' of Sonic titles.
Please note, we did not get a review code for this game. I bought it with my hard earned cash, ya dig!
One thing I loved about Sonic Mega Collection was the amount of care and effort they put in the game and collection. It didn't just include Sonic 1 , 2 blah blah blah but a bunch of other games too. Sure the European version used the PAL version of Sonic 1 which is absolutely painful to play, but other games shined on it. Also, the menu themes and additions to the museums and unlockables were really well thought out. I mean, you could read comics on that thing!
But i'm not really meant to be talking about Sonic Mega Collection, the much better celebration for Classic Sonic games, i'm here to discuss Sega's new effort (whatever if there was anyway) of Sonic Origins.
Sonic Origins was meant to come out last year during the Blue Blur's 30th anniversary but was delayed to 2022. However, this release has not impressed the original developers of the game's new anniversary edition mode. Apparently they wanted more time to finish the game, but weren't allowed too.
Let's talk about some new features in the game first and how well it performs.
A nice new feature to this game is the short-but-sweet animated cutscenes. They play out at the beginning and end of every game you choose including the game's intro that adds a nice touch to the collection. However sometimes I think that they're too short, I like them a lot though. I was also surprised there was a new cutscene before Sonic CD's main game too. Don't worry, they still kept the classic 'Sonic Boom' opening cutscene too for fans to enjoy.
There is a new Mirror Mode in each game too which is really surreal. It gives me a head ache while playing them. It's very strange to look at because although it's just the game flipped to the other side, it provides a fresh new challenge which is also nice.
Every game also includes Boss Rush and Mission Mode, I haven't tried those modes yet. I've still been checking out how well each game fares.
The animated menus are pretty boring to look at to be honest. Moving the camera around in the island menu at the beginning is probably the most pointless feature i've ever seen. It doesn't do anything. There's no reason to have that included there. The main menus themselves are really bland and boring, not nice and detailed like Mega Collection's was. The Audio Library menu is much worse. Looks like someone just drew it up in Microsoft Paint and slapped on a few Sonic sprites in the background. You can also unlock art, but that's also boring. If I wanted to see Sonic art, i'd look at Twitter.
One thing I also noticed quite significantly, similar to Sonic Colours Ultimate, the audio mix is really bad. Sonic 3's new soundtrack sounds flat in comparison, and don't get me started on the new Sonic 3 tracks that sound worse than the prototype versions.
The game's overall audio mix is also very bad. I only noticed when I played it on my Switch Lite today. With the volume up full blast the game is barely audible. I checked other games on the same console on the same volume setting, and they have a nice surround feel. So it wasn't my hearing or my Switch Lite that was the problem. Like Sonic Colours Ultimate, the sound mix sounds flat and mono. I was told, they just used the remastered OSTs for Sonic 1 and Sonic CD, and Sonic 2 from the mobile port. Sonic 3 & Knuckles' OST also is reportedly muffled although I haven't gotten up to it yet. The CD rips from this soundtrack are indeed super quiet compared to most regular rips. Were they high or something ripping these CDs? How does someone make this mistake? Even I can rip CDs with better quality than this. SEGA's sound mixer should be fired. This also was the same situation on Sonic Colours Ultimate where the game audio mix was mono. It still sounds quite muffled and bad. Just like Sonic Origins Soundtrack as well. It's a shame they didn't redo the soundtrack entirely for the anniversary mode, in a way that Sonic Mania did.
The newest feature of Sonic Origins is a mode that everybody is talking about, called Anniversary Mode. But what is it? It's based on new emulation instead of using the old ones. The games are in 16:9 widescreen which look wonderful, and now don't have game overs. We instead have coins replacing lives. Coins can be used to either unlock a lot of the mediocre content in the Museum or more usefully, being able to replay the Special Stages.
Having no game overs is a joy because it's such an out dated feature. Sonic 1 reminds me how much I hate Marble Zone, but at least having no game overs makes it at least bareable.
Tails is the greatest character in the game
One great thing Sonic Origins does is that it enables you to play as Tails and Knuckles as well through Sonic 2, 3 & Sonic & Knuckles. You can play as Tails in Sonic CD but not Knuckles. Forget about Knuckles and Sonic though. Sonic Origins is Tails' time to shine. This is his game. I never really enjoyed Sonic 1. I liked Sonic 2 more. But I played Tails in Sonic 1 and I was blown away with how much stuff he can do. I believe this is also the first time you can play as Tails and Knuckles in Sonic 1.
Tails can fly. You can actually fly through large portions of each stage. As you're flying you can move into oncoming enemies and destroy them while you're flying. If you get stuck in the water, Tails actually swims, unlike Sonic & Knuckles who slows down in the water. You can also swim out & fly out of the water at the same time. Tails is an unstoppable killing machine in this game. However, I did notice even in Sonic 1 for example the audio mixes are bad.
Knuckles glides and climbs up walls, but Knuckles' gliding is very limited. His climbing is useful though but most of the time you can't reach an infinite height, so I find Tails more useful.
One problem I had though that's quite known is, in Sonic 2 I played as Tails & Knuckles. If Tails would be left behind he would get stuck and jump up and down endlessly. So you're running through the whole stage as Knuckles hearing the jumping sound over and over again from Tails being stuck. It's a well known glitch and I hope it gets fixed up.
I also played Sonic 3, and was interested to see how that went. Sonic 3 played very good. However, the audio mix for the game as I mentioned before, just sounds really flat. Jun Senoue had to re-record some songs for the game, which sounded like arse, but whoever mixed this soundtrack needs to be fired. It just lacks a lot of the magic the original Sonic 3 soundtrack had. The main core of the gameplay in Sonic 3 is still there, and it's nice to see it on another collection because it's usually omitted from Sega & Sonic collections due to the Michael Jackson thing. I'm not buying it Mr. Naka, Sega basically confirmed Jackson did have some involvement when they had to redo the soundtrack. It's been one of the worst kept secrets in gaming history for a long time.
Final verdict - same old?
I talked to a few people about Sonic Origins and they said 'it's just the same games they already released on everything else before'. That's a fair point. It is. The menus & museum content aren't really anything new or something to get excited by. The cutscenes are a nice new touch, but I wish there was more or had more input to the game instead of being 30 second intervals.
I have not bothered to try the original games in the 4:3 aspect ratio. I also don't like the background wallpaper in the original versions. They look distracting.
However, Anniversary Mode is where the game appeals to best. Though not perfect, it's at least a fun new way to play these games. Is Sonic Origins worth the $60 price? Absolutely not. You can find cheaper Sonic game collections already available for at least $20 - $40.
While some new features are fun and interesting, it's just the same old games as before, so there's nothing new here.
It would be nice if Sega continue to support Sonic Origins and add more DLC, but that's probably never going to happen. They botched Sonic Colours Ultimate last year and they botched Sonic Origins this year. It's fun to play in 20 minute bursts, but that's it really.
FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 5/10
- Anniversary Mode adds a nice touch although it can be buggy at some points
- Playing as different characters such as Tails & Knuckles in other Sonic games
- Mirror Mode & Mission Mode add nice new features
- Classic Sonic games in 16:9 look gorgeous
- Hidden Palace Zone , a lost level from Sonic 2 added in the game is a nice feature
- The same old rehashed games Sega have been spewing out over the years
- Not much extra value that's worth the $60 price tag
- Poor sound & audio mix
- SEGA never learned from any of the past mistakes from 2021's Sonic Colours Ultimate
- Sonic 3 newly added tracks sound worse than the prototype versions