Sonic the Hedgehog was 31 years old and to celebrate him, he got a retro collection that was so hard and hollow that I thought it would be his 31st birthday. Sonic Origins celebrates Sonic’s history and welcomes the opportunity to revisit some classic games that I believe are far superior to credits, but in the packages they come in. I can’t help but be disappointed. Between the bare essentials and the strange lack of preferences, SonicOrigins is a rough way to play some great games.
Before we get into the package itself, think about the actual games it contains. Classic Sonic has a better reputation than his modern 3D cousin, but many complain that it’s difficult to control 2D games. Sonic’s speed is awkward and not naturally suitable for platforming. In the first place, it can be difficult just to increase the speed. Many consider this a weakness, which is exactly why I love classic games. Because they are a rare example of a platformer where your momentum is really important. The trajectory cannot be adjusted quickly and easily, so you must carefully choose when to slow down and when to move forward in full tilt. Once you get the hang of control, the classic Sonic game begins to feel like a score attack game where you play the campaign over and over again and get a little better each time.
The first game in the collection is the original Sonic the Hedgehog released in 1991, the only game in the package that I really don’t like. The opening Green Hill Zone completely encapsulates Sonic’s strengths, but when you move to the second level, the Marble Zone, things stop (literally in some way). From there, speed becomes a boring platform from the backseat, waiting for the level geometry to move to a particular pattern. Origins alleviates some of these issues by adding spin dash and drop dash features from later games to speed things up, but big blocks try to crush you with an unstable hitbox. You can’t do anything about the very common obstacles that you do. Sonic 1 is grateful as part of history, but it’s not really fun to play to the end.
Next is Sonic CD. This was the only game I’ve ever played in a collection. The CD is moving in a slightly different direction than the sequels to other Sonic developed in Japan apart from the American-made Sonic 2. The levels are significantly expanded compared to Sonic1 and there are multiple paths that you find really worth exploring. Boss battles are also a departure from the rest of the series, focusing on unique set pieces and challenges rather than having to bounce several times before exploding. The downside of Sonic CD is a strange time travel system that seeks to go back in time and destroy Robotnik’s machines and make the future happier. The refining level of Robotnik’s device can be frankly boring if not encountered randomly, and if even one is missing, you’ll be locked out of the real ending (and even more boring specials). Unless you have a random stage). Search bother at a very early stage. The Sonic CD represents the growing pain of the franchise as Sega understands a solid formula, wielding a fence with big and ambitious ideas, sometimes overlooking.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the first Sonic game I played as a kid and occupies a very special place in my mind. The level will be linear again like Sonic1, but it will retain the wide branch path of the CD that will help keep the action moving. Instead of missing a jump and dying instantly, you will be placed on another (usually slow) route that can be recovered. The only major weakness of Sonic 2 is its very difficult end. The levels are longer and there are no rings on the final boss stage, so you have to complete everything without making a single hit. As a kid, I couldn’t reach the end of the game in a limited life, and even adults imagine learning this boss pattern when Game Over brings you back to the beginning of the game. I have a hard time. Thankfully, unlimited life at Sonic Origins makes this much more feasible.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles is often considered Sonic’s masterpiece, but for good reason. All improvements made with SonicCD and Sonic2 have been maintained and added. Sonic can now pick up multiple types of energy shields that give it new abilities such as double jumps and bounce attacks. Levels have become more dynamic than ever with epic movies and lots of secrets behind fake walls. Some levels can be very long and boring — the Sandpolis Zone is a particularly frustrating slogan — but overall, this is the best Classic Sonic has to offer.
It’s hard to call a package containing these games bad, but Sonic Origins certainly does minimal skating for a retro collection. And I argue that sometimes that isn’t achieved. Bonus features are fairly limited, such as a mirror mode that flips the game horizontally, and a mission mode that completes bite-sized goals at slightly modified levels and finally wins a ranking. The challenge wasn’t very appealing as it wasn’t deep and felt like a Mario Party mini-game. There is also a museum where you can unlock behind-the-scenes illustrations such as concept art, which is very cool, but when it turns out that mission mode is the best way to earn coins, I’m interested in unlocking it. I lost it.
But Origins’ biggest disappointment is, frankly, that it’s not a very good way to play these classic games. There are few options on how to scale up sprite-based graphics to HD. Due to the lack of integer scaling, each game looks a bit blurry, rather than the crisp, crisp look you would see on a modern display. There’s no display filter available, so you can’t even get a rough estimate of how your game would look on your old CRT TV. The only real option in the graphics settings menu is the antialiasing toggle that makes the game even more blurry. The lack of options is so terrible that the collection actually ties the biggest choice of graphics to the difficulty setting. You can choose between the original 4: 3 aspect ratio of the game or the upgraded widescreen look, but you can play widescreen for an infinite life in anniversary mode and 4: 3 in classic mode. You can only do this if a game over is sent. Return to the start of the game.
From there, the function deteriorates. There are no remapable controls, and each game’s save file is strangely tied to the choice of playable characters (except for Sonic 3 & Nuckles, which included the save file in the original Genesis version). There is no save status or rewind function. Therefore, the last boss of Sonic2 mentioned above will be even tougher. Ironically, this means that this version of Sonic 2 has less overall functionality than the version included in the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. Basically, even the features already in previous versions of these games lack all the features you can expect from the latest re-release.
This makes it even more frustrating for Sega to remove many of these earlier versions from the digital storefront just a month before the release of Origins. One of the delisted versions was the Genesis Classics release on Steam, which literally downloaded a ROM to your computer that you could drop into the emulator of your choice. I can’t reasonably keep the console release in that standard, but the fact that Sega removed that option in favor of an option that was very lacking in basic functionality didn’t exist in the first place at Sonic Origins. I hope that.
There are few upgrades to Sonic Origins, such as restored content and endless life, most of which cover previous releases of these games and even fan-made options that you could enjoy on the Steam release ROM. .. The only thing I think this collection really achieves is to make some great games available on the latest consoles. That’s the bare minimum I can ask. These games are great except for Sonic 1 and are fully playable versions. Sadly, we’ve seen the potential of the Classic Sonic collection, but Sonic Origins hasn’t fully met that potential.