Sonic Origins is upon us, and it promises to give Sonic fans something that they’ve been given what feels like a million times by now. A rerelease of the first four Sonic games (Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles) in what is ostensibly their definitive format, presented with a whole cavalcade of extra content. At least, that’s what SEGA wants you to think, but the actual truth isn’t quite as clean as that, smeared by some baffling corporate decisions and a price-point that doesn’t really reflect what you’re given in the game.
Sonic Origins Is Wonderfully Presented
All four games in this collection hold up rather well for their age. Well, almost all four. Sonic CD is still the worst of the best Sonic games, with half the game being brilliant ideas incredibly well executed and half of the game being awful ideas executed incredibly poorly. Playing these games in crisp 4K, with every game being fully widescreen is just breath-taking and by far the best way to play these older titles (that is, if you don’t mind being unable to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles without the Sonic 3 part of that title).
There’s no trade-off in the visuals department for this increase in quality, but there is another issue with the audio department. SEGA doesn’t have the rights to the music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles anymore, meaning that the music is replaced with newer and inferior versions of that game’s music. It’s understandable that SEGA couldn’t use the older versions of those tracks (especially understandable if you consider the ancient rumor that Michael Jackson himself did music for the game), but it’s a shame that they couldn’t have taken more time to make more memorable tracks.
Sonic Origins also comes with a collection of unlockable extras that you can get by spending ‘coins’, an in-game currency. They’re a cool addition, but it’d be cooler if everything available here wasn’t already available online at the drop of a simple google search. There are shortened versions of Sonic symphonies here, but I can find longer versions of them simply by going online. It feels to a degree like SEGA wanted to be able to point to their re-release and say that they had new content, but didn’t want to actually find any interesting new content to actually put into their re-release.
Instead of having Sonic Mania Adventures on this release which, while totally beautiful and amazing, are all available online regardless, SEGA could have gone the whole hog and put an episode of each of the Sonic animated series in the game as unlockable features. Who doesn’t want to see that absolutely off-the-wall Sonic Underground opening in 4K and realize quite how completely wild Sonic adaptations have been over the years?
Anything would have been better than the lackluster options that SEGA presents fans with here, especially given how anybody who is buying this collection has probably already seen the Sonic Mania Adventures chronicles. Speaking of, who at SEGA thought it was a good idea to remind players that a more interesting celebration of 2D Sonic already exists and is incredibly cheap on the PS Store right now? It feels rather counterproductive at best, and at worst like they actively don’t even want you to play the game they’re selling to you.
A Sad Reflection Of Modern SEGA
The extra modes, while not exactly unique, are also quite fun. Mirror mode is incredibly tough at points, and the Boss Rush mode is teeth clenching, especially considering the fact you’re given absolutely no rings for the fights. Then why do I feel hollow playing them, and why do I feel like the game is an ominous march towards the future of SEGA and the future of Sonic games themselves? Why do I feel like I myself am constantly one hit away from death, marching toward Dr. Robotnik’s huge machines of doom and destruction?
There’s no way to avoid discussing the elephant in the room: Sonic Origins has some egregiously bad monetization. This is a series of games that is older than I am, yet SEGA thought it would be a good idea to charge extra for things such as a harder version of the standard missions, character animation in the main menu, camera controls over the main menu islands, character animations during music islands and additional music tracks from MegaDrive/Genesis Titles. Hold for a second and imagine the sheer audacity to separate content from a remaster of titles so old, and to charge this much for extra content in an already rather expensive title. It’s wild, and shouldn’t be accepted at all by anybody.
Sonic Origins – In Conclusion
It’s sheer corporate greed, and it heavily tarnishes the legacy of these games. The Sonic Origins collection is brilliant to an extent, but that extent is an extremely finite one and one that can only have so much goodwill before it turns completely and utterly sour. Three and a half incredibly well-made games that are classics for a reason, presented in their definitive appearance but turned sour thanks to SEGA themselves. It’s rather fitting really that classic SEGA games have been turned dirty and made into puppets by the shell that is modern SEGA.