Sonic Origins is the review we would have liked to do many years ago because it is the best collection ever on the blue porcupine.
We have seen SEGA often re-propose its classic Sonic, with various possible packages and sometimes even using the infamous mini consoles, such as Mega Drive Mini. Sonic Origins is just another attempt in a series that began long ago, shortly after the release of the Mega Drive itself.
Especially after the limp storey of SEGA’s mascot 3D video games, the first episodes of the franchise take on even more appeal due to their timeless appeal. The Japanese company knows this well, so we now find ourselves in front of yet another collection of Sonic in 2D.
Precisely the first titles that marked the debut, and success, of the fastest hedgehog in the world of video games: Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic CD.
A collection that has also created discussions, mainly regarding its contents. There are some game elements relating to collectables and additional features to the main ones, which are blocked by purchasing the Deluxe Edition.
Although SEGA has rectified some parts of the elements blocked behind the purchase of the special edition, this has not prevented it from generating discontent (and a mockery of Devolver Digital).
But if in other cases you have to equip yourself with a mini console, or in any case you find yourself having to play these classics in conditions that are not optimal from the point of view of performance and availability, in this, we are faced with something much more comfortable – and useful.
Sonic for new and old fans
The simplest thing Sonic Origins does is repurpose the previous games in their original form. With lots of bugs and glitches, the same as the original versions.
Although the games have been rebuilt with the Retro Engine, the same behind Sonic Mania (the latest unreleased 2D title, which you can also find on Amazon), Sonic Origins still carries some technical problems, which have remained intact from the versions. Game originals: it only happened to us a couple of times that we had to restart a game because Sonic got stuck somewhere, but looking for testimonials from users and colleagues, we must note that several can happen.
In addition, unlike Sonic Mania, Origins lacks some scaling options that make the gameplay in pixels more malleable and readable. Anti-aliasing can be activated, but the result is an even more blurred mixture of pixels.
Tip: keep it deactivated.
However, one cannot fail to notice how positive there is in work done by the development team. Particularly in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which for the first time was treated by the Retro Engine (the first two games appeared partially in Sonic Mania).
A keen eye, who may have stripped the original titles, will notice small improvements to the water animations and additional frames for the objects on the screen. Including rings, for example, now move more smoothly when they explode around the map after the player is hit.
Many small improvements seem useless individually and hardly visible, but work overall to reconstruct a pixel-perfect version of the originals, but with fluidity and effects worthy of modern pixel art (and beyond).
Sonic Origins is not the best collection of SEGA video games only for its ease of use but also for the fact that it represents the best aesthetic result of the original experience. It is also suitable for modern systems.
Although you can play in a nostalgic 4: 3 format, all the games have been rethought for 16: 9 with a work that is not only about stretching the image but also a real reconstruction. So much so that the meetings with the bosses, Eggman and his creations, have been slightly rethought to cover the entire screen suitably.
In general, replaying this Sonic in 2D with this pack is undoubtedly the best possible way to do it, whether you keep the original resolution or not. Without resorting to emulation, mods, and old versions, which inevitably seem older today, if you need a way to keep these games with you, Sonic Origins can’t go wrong.
Sonic Origins, a review we wish we had done sooner
Of course, as we said above, this is the umpteenth collection of SEGA video games, but it remains the best for its accessibility and historical value.
Also, the titles have been redesigned with an Anniversary Mode, which makes the game experience more similar to that of a modern platformer: infinite lives, checkpoints, and special coins that allow you to retry even the bonus stages in case you fail.
Plus, you can play as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles in any chapter – except for Sonic CD, where Knuckles is on the sidelines because his play style doesn’t suit the level design of the title.
In this way, those who are not used to the inflexibility of old-school video games, or want to replay without the anxiety of where to start over after losing their lives, can enjoy some of the best 2D games in history.
Of course, the Classic Mode also allows you to play Sonic as you remembered it, with a one-to-one fidelity.
Among the novelties, however, are the boss rushes for each chapter, the possibility of playing all the titles in a row without interruption, and engaging in some challenges that offer you to face portions of levels with various modifiers to reach a goal. This is the main way to earn special coins – which are not only important for repeating internships but also (and above all, in the opinion of the writer) to unlock the contents of the Museum.
Artwork, soundtracks (complete with pieces from the recent 30th-anniversary concert), sketches, original instruction booklets, unpublished animations created specifically to introduce each title in the collection, and much more.
The latter, in particular, deserves an honourable mention for the quality with which they were made. They are even better than those created for Sonic Mania, which was already state of the art. So much so that they made us hope they could be the basis of a future show, alongside that of Netflix already announced.
Considering why Sonic Origins exists, which is to celebrate 30 years (plus one) of the blue porcupine, it’s hard to ask for anything more cured.
Because although Sonic Origins does not want to upset anything, we are not faced with ports taken and slapped on a new platform this time. For the first time, there is real care in reworking from a technological point of view, proposing and narrating Sonic with a collection of video games worthy of being called that.
A package whose core is the storytelling of one of the heralds of video game history. A proposal that we would have liked to have been able to play and review a long time ago instead of putting up with the parade of emulations of all these years.
In this project (on which perhaps a more affordable price could have been applied) are the things that every Sonic fan would want and that every young video game enthusiast would need to study the story of the blue hedgehog.
Nostalgia done right, for once.
Version reviewed: PC