Sonic Origins Review

Sonic Origins Logo

With Sonic fans keeping a keen eye on the hedgehog’s next grand adventure in the shape of Sonic Frontiers, Sonic Origins meanwhile looks to scratch that nostalgic itch by bringing what many deem the series’ high points to modern consoles. While many anticipate Frontiers with … shall we say… cautious optimism, surely SEGA can’t mess up what is essentially a compilation of already classic titles?

So, what are you getting here exactly? Included in Sonic Origins are:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Mega CD)
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Mega Drive)

What is there to say about these games that haven’t already been said a hundred times over (or re-released that many times for that matter). It’s that same classic Sonic platforming gameplay that chances are you’ve likely encountered at some point in your gaming life. The original game – and perhaps the one that has aged least favourably – is still an enjoyable romp despite being bogged down by slower zones like Marble Zone and water-filled Labyrinth Zone. Its sequel meanwhile ups the zone count, improves on level design, introduces us to the loveable Tails and even includes a surprisingly competitive two-player mode.

Sonic Origins Review Screenshot 1

Sonic CD stands out with its time-travelling mechanic, signposts triggering the ability to head into a future or past version of the zone so long as Sonic can maintain speed Back to the Future style. Lastly, Sonic 3 & Knuckles provides the biggest adventure of the bunch, zones now sprawling playgrounds with multiple routes to speed through and of course Knuckles making his debut.

Each has seen a number of quality-of-life tweaks and changes that serve to improve the experience (as well as a number of disappointing ones too). Of course, the big one is having the action running in full widescreen offering a better view ahead, which is always appreciated especially since Sonic is all about moving fast. Oddly, this option is only available when playing in anniversary mode (an option that does away with the traditional lives) while the classic mode features that traditional 4:3 view. Why? Who knows?

While many updates of older games often bring along with them extra bells and whistles like save states, different visual options and rewind functionality, Sonic Origins comes up strangely empty here. Fans will also be disappointed to find that there is no option to play Sonic 3 or Sonic & Knuckles separately.

Sonic Origins Review Screenshot 2

And yes, the music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles does include replacements for certain zones and songs, an outcome that was expected but no less disappointing especially when listening to what we got instead. Not only do the tracks feel out of place when compared with everything else in the game but they also fall well short against their original counterparts like Launch Base and Ice Cap. As a Sonic fan it stops this package from being the best way to play the game and as petty as it sounds, the fact these iconic tracks are missing really hurt it.

That isn’t to say Sonic Origins doesn’t bring some fun new tricks to the table. Leaderboards add a decent incentive to revisit zones. Spin dash makes its return from Sonic Mania while the ability to play as Tails and Knuckles in every game is a neat surprise too. The mission mode also provides a decent number of fun challenges for each game ranging from racing through without touching a single enemy, grabbing rings or destroying a certain number of Badniks as fast as possible. Playing these will earn coins which can then be spent in the museum offering a mixed bag of goodies that include artwork and audio tracks. I say mixed bag, because as fun it is looking through old artwork of the series it doesn’t quite have the same feeling unlocking what the game labels ‘premium’ songs which are little more than grabs from other games like the Angel Island remix from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Sonic Origins Review Screenshot 3

All that being said, let’s address the elephant in the room here. Currently, there are multiple ways to play these games on Switch already be that through Nintendo Switch Online, Mega Drive Classics or the SEGA AGES releases. If you already have access to any of these, it makes the value of Sonic Origins start to slip. Sure, it has some cool extras but it doesn’t quite feel enough especially when you consider how many other games could have been added to this collection. Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast or even the Game Gear releases would have helped bolster this package and thus make more of a case for Sonic Origins even for those who have access to some of these titles.

There’s little denying the quality of the four adventures found in Sonic Origins – arguably the best the hedgehog has ever seen in some cases – and there’s clearly a lot of effort that’s gone into this package, however, it’s also one peppered with weird omissions and a general lack of content that prevent it from reaching true excellence. It’s great there’s now another way to play these classics on modern consoles but as a Sonic fan myself I just wished for more and better in a collection celebrating the blue blur.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SEGA

Total Score
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