I love playing the latest video game releases as much as the next guy, but sometimes those classics you grew up with are the comfy old pair of slippers you need to unwind after a long day. For me old Super Nintendo games like Super Mario World or Donkey Kong Country are what cure me of the blues, but for those who owned a Mega Drive Sonic’s spiky face is likely who provides that comfort from their childhood. If that’s the case then you should probably own those Sega classics on your modern consoles – enter Sonic Origins Plus.
This bundle of retro games is predominantly made up of the four classic Sonic games that we all know and love. Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 and Knuckles and Sonic CD are where you’ll spend most of your time in this collection. These (mostly) fast paced platformers are as much fun as you remember, with corkscrews, loop the loops and springs aplenty littering the colourful stages and ensuring you have a fun time spinning about. If somehow you haven’t played a Sonic game before, the blend of satisfying momentum through a stage and hazards to deal with is truly 16-bit magic, and you should get to beating Robotnik as soon as possible.
Another great reason to have all these wonderful Sonic games in one place is because it means you can have fun with all the different bonus stages. I absolutely love the various levels housing Chaos Emeralds in these titles, from the spinning mazes of Sonic the Hedgehog to the tunnels of rings and mines from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. A fantastic feature of Sonic Origins Plus is the ability to retry these stages when you fail at the cost of a measly collectable coin, which means gathering all the gems and turning into Super Sonic is more manageable than ever.
There are a few other helpful features that make the games less punishing too when you’re playing the Anniversary versions of the main titles. One of these is the removal of lives entirely, meaning that death no longer has a consequence other than pushing you back to the nearest checkpoint. You can also restart stages at any time, which is great when you miss out on gathering enough rings to unlock a bonus stage. Finally you can save your game at any time and play something else, which doesn’t exactly sound like a feature but back in the good old days you had to beat Sonic in one sitting or start over.
The ability to play a few dusty old games probably doesn’t fill you with the urge to spend £35 on a new video game, but there are a few extras that add some value to the package. My favourite of these are the missions, which are specially designed mini stages with objectives to complete and a time limit. The variety of these missions is pretty fantastic, with some showcasing Knuckles flying to kill enemies, as well as pacifist missions and specially designed mazes that’ll really test your skills. You’ll be rewarded with those precious coins for getting a good rank too, which you can spend over at the museum.
The museum houses all sorts of artifacts from the history of Sonic, from concept art to videos of live concerts playing the themes we all know and love. It’s a cool thing to explore for hardcore fans of the series, but after unlocking some of the cooler animated story scenes and music I still had a whole lot of change that I wasn’t bothered about spending on pictures of crabs.
Pretty much all these features were available in the original Sonic Origins when it was released last year, so why buy the new Plus version of the game I hear you ask. Well the main reason for this is supposed to be the added Game Gear games. These twelve portable titles originally released on Sega’s ill fated handheld back in the day, and it won’t take you long to notice their limitations thanks to that. Honestly these additional games are barely worth playing, with massive framerate dips, subpar level design and horrendous sound quality. There are much better versions of some of the games included on other systems too (like Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Sonic Spinball) so including these piss poor versions feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth.
The other new feature of Sonic Origins Plus is the addition of Amy Rose as a playable character. Playing as the adorable pink hedgehog brings a couple of very minor changes to your moveset, but for the most part she’s pretty close to a palette swap of Sonic. I like the idea of adding a new character to the collection, but it’d be nice if her addition had shaken up these classics a little bit.
When playing Sonic Origins Plus, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d played loads of better collections of Sonic games in the past. When I bought Sonic Mega Collection on the GameCube in 2002 it included most of the games you’d want to play from this bundle alongside classics like Ristar, Sonic 3D Blast and Mean Bean Machine, so the selection here just feels a bit lackluster. The games are still great of course, but especially for a more complete version of Sonic Origins it feels way emptier than it should.
My final issue with Sonic Origins Plus is one that can’t really be helped, but is still very unfortunate. The music in Sonic 3 (which for those who don’t know was initially developed in part by Michael Jackson) can no longer be used for licencing reasons, and it just isn’t the same without the tunes from my childhood. Obviously there’s no easy fix for this, but it’s a shame nonetheless.
Sonic Origins Plus is a great way to play four fantastic games, but the overall package is a little bit weak. The new additions to the Plus version are weaker still, making it hard to recommend even the budget priced upgrade let alone the full package. Despite this though you simply can’t deny the quality of the fantastic games in this collection, and if you’re desperate for a way to play them on modern consoles then you’ll probably still be happy spinning your life away.
Contains all the best retro Sonic games
The mission mode has fun new content to enjoy
Some nice features that make the old games more accessible
Plenty of cool things to unlock in the museum
Not really enough games to be a definitive collection
The Game Gear games are dreadful
Amy isn't really that exciting an addition
The new Sonic 3 music is unfortunately worse