In 2021, Sonic celebrated its 30th anniversary and many fans were disappointed by the lack of events hosted by SEGA. Even though the hedgehog’s aura is no longer the same as when it started, we’re still talking about the company’s mascot! To satisfy the community, the publisher responded with Sonic Origins, another collection of Mega Drive episodes (SEGA console from the early 1990s) and, a rare fact to emphasize, the exclusive Mega CD adventure (extra player piggybacking on Mega Drive). Enough to be conquered?
Do not see any contempt from your true side, these words are only a mirror of the feelings of Sonic fans. The latter was expecting a festival for its 30th anniversary, and the few announcements circulating about the famous hedgehog did not convince many people. Many also hoped that Sonic Origins would be the ultimate collection, despite the presence of games seen and reviewed.
The cream of creams?
As the name suggests, Sonic Origins looks at the beginning of the hedgehog and gathers all of his early adventures. We therefore find Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (which combines Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles) and Sonic CD. We thus benefit from the mascot’s rise in power and simply excellent play. The first Sonic lays the foundation for the license with the universe of the Green Hill Zone, Dr. Robotnik or the animals to be rescued. This is followed by two episodes that optimize the original’s gameplay and explore new environments by integrating new characters. So much to say right away, with Mario we hold the crème de la crème of platform games from the 1990s for those who love speed, spectacle and exploration. On the other hand, you will not find any episode released on portable consoles and even less 3D adventures. Sonic Origins is only interested in the creation of the little hedgehog. A little light all that when you know that there is a streak of sympathetic episodes released at the same time.
Games revisited for maximum enjoyment?
Inevitably, with such a compilation, we are entitled to wonder if it will hold over time. After all, there are only 4 games, and the Sonics, apart from the Sonic CD and its space-time progression, are not known for their longevity. What is left for this compilation under these conditions? Well, it’s simple, each game is divided into two modes: Classic and Anniversary. The first fully transcribes the original game with limited life and the screen in 4/3 resolution (square format). The other, conversely, gives infinite life, advocates display in 16/9 (rectangular format) and adds a “star” element, which allows, once in the menus, to go to the museum to unlock a number of elements , which is capable of cracking any nostalgic fan. Illustrations, videos, music, development documents, there is plenty to do! This section is really a success and pushes you to finish each of the games by collecting all the emeralds (to get the right ending and a maximum of stars).
In addition to all this, Sonic Origins offers an Adventure mode that allows you to relive all 4 games in a single journey! For each of the titles in the compilation, there is also a mission mode (with objectives to achieve, such as eliminating a certain number of enemies, etc.) and a mode Boss Rush which consists of defeating every single boss in record time. Everything is quite traditional, but it works quite well for those who want to prolong the pleasure. Compared to its smaller peers, the Sonic 3 & Knuckles also has a section Blue balls which broadly captures the bonus levels of the eponymous game by adding two new colors (the green balls as well as the purple balls that act as teleporters). With the Sonic Mania team, SEGA has tried to optimize the contours of each game as much as possible, and we have fun trying every option present in the compilation, such as changing characters (playing with Tails or Knuckles instead for sonic). Each title has been redesigned with the tools of Sonic Mania, and we can only pay homage to the fluid character of the whole and the quality of the graphics.
If the additions are interesting, it is still necessary to remember that the games presented actually benefit from the optimizations of the mobile versions released in 2013. There is no original version in this compilation! Players can thus discover items that were not present in the original versions. For example, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 it is possible to access Hidden palace zonea level that was once abandoned. There are also a whole lot of little tweaks that like to add spin streg (when Sonic curls up and suddenly accelerates) to the first Sonic in the name. The effort is commendable and the collection is quite complete from this point of view. On the other hand, there are omissions that are strange. With the exception of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which had basic saves, it is impossible to save at all times! Same observation for the rewind function (when you lose, you can go back a few seconds to start again), which is absent! Finally, do not expect to have fun with graphic filters or various display options, there are hardly any! Only consolation prize: the presence of different frameworks for the resolution in 4/3. Yes.
As for the music for Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which was originally born out of the collaboration with Michael Jackson, it has – for some – disappeared! The emblematic themes of the levels carnival night, is caps and LaunchBase has been replaced by compositions by one of SEGA’s historical musicians: Jun Senoue. If these music is not inaudible, far from it, they do not have the charm of past tunes. If we add sound and visual flaws, all of these elements put end to end telling us that Sonic Origins might have deserved a few weeks of development.
This observation is all the more unfortunate as the Sonic Mania team has integrated new cartoons and a really nice interface. Players can thus open a map and move around the different islands to enjoy every game, every mission or museum. The developers have even added a small animated island in the background that you can “visit” by zooming in on the various characters performing their business. Of course, for some people this may seem completely anecdotal, but it demonstrates the care taken in compiling when it comes to packaging. From there to it is important? Probably not…
Whether we like it or not, and although the games on offer are excellent, SEGA already offered this type of compilation twenty-five years ago! For example, in Sonic Jam on Saturn (SEGA’s console released in 1994), players could enjoy most of the games shown here (in their original format) and even a completely free 3D section where Sonic could roam around and get into buildings to watch videos or illustrations, listen to music or track the history of the license. Of course, Sonic Origins goes further in terms of content, but the gap is not that big in comparison. In short, for more effect, the developers could have imagined an improved version of this 3D section of Sonic Jam. Therefore, we will first and foremost reserve Sonic Origins for beginners who want to discover the beginning of the franchise. The others will return to their original consoles and games. Note that to have all the content, you need the Deluxe version, a little more expensive, which adds the Mirror mode (the levels are performed from right to left and not from left to right), some animations and music.
- Game interface and skin
- Excellent game in optimized versions
- The different game modes
- A well-stocked museum
- Music is missing from Sonic 3
- Too few games
- Display and sound errors
- 16: 9 not at all suitable for 2 player mode
- A slightly salty addition (even more in the Deluxe version)
While it’s a lovely tribute to the hedgehog’s early adventures, Sonic Origins deserved a better finish. Overall, this compilation is correct, but the options offered are not enough to compensate for certain shortcomings. Despite a really successful dressing with its cartoons and colorful interface, SEGA’s games constantly fluctuate between good and bad. We’re fine, but for Sonic’s 30th anniversary, we were right in expecting more games and surprises. Especially at a price of forty euros.
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