It has been quite some time since I played classic 2D Sonic, so I was looking forward to Sonic Origins, which is basically the ultimate 2D Sonic collection, containing updated versions of Sonic 1, 2, CD, 3 and Knuckles, with modern improvements like wide screen support, amusement packed with extras new modes like mirror mode, boss Rush and even achievement like missions. And Gaming Raja is here to review Sonic Origin.
Classic Games with Great Enhancements
Let’s not waste any time. Sonic Origins should be the template for how to create a classic games compilation golden form on top of running at a higher resolution with HDR support at a rock solid frame rate. The brand new Anniversary mode offers some essential tweaks to make each game more accessible to modern audiences. Including a wider viewpoint. Infinite Lawyers and the drop backs from Sonic Mania being retroactively added to each of the games.
And I have to say, playing the classic Sonic games with all these enhancements is an absolute treat. The white screen support looks gorgeous and the Infinite Lives makes it infinitely less frustrating, but my favourite change is the drop dash, as it greatly reduces the time you spend trying to regain momentum, and it’s wonderful.
And yes, I realize that’s more of a commentary on my skills rather than the game’s fault, but I had significantly more fun playing these games now than I ever did as a kid, especially since I grew up with the 50 Hz European versions, whereas you’ll be treated to the proper full speed 60 Hz here, regardless of which region you’re in.
And speaking of smoothness, the bonus stages all look and run much better now than ever before, which is most notable in Sonic CDs bonus stages. Just look how smooth it is. And even better, the game now lets you instantly retry a bonus stage if you fail to complete it, which is a small quality of life improvement that I personally quite liked. Also. While it may not be entirely new.
You can play through the game as Knuckles yes. Even Sonic One. Which is a nice addition before you purus out there. Don’t worry. You can still play the games.
Classic Gaming Modes by Sonic Team
As they were mostly originally designed in classic mode. Which retains their original 4 – 3 aspect ratio. Life counter and no drop dash. Which again is a fantastic feature to have for a classic games collection. Too often there are debates over collections honoring the original releases or being updated for a modern audience, so having both options is a perfect compromise.
I struggle to play these games with classic mode after getting used to the drop dash, as it really is a game changer, and I’m excited to see what speedrunners can do with it. Beyond the gameplay and presentation enhancements, there are a few new modes too.
First up is an unlockable mirror mode which lets you play the exact same game again, only this time the world is flipped. It was a nice surprise, but I also didn’t care about it all too much, since again, it’s literally the same game, except you run left instead of right. There’s also a Boss Rush mode for each game, and it’s quite a challenge.
I’m certainly not great at 2D Sonic games, and this mode was tough. They’re giving 3 lives to fight every boss for whichever game you choose. I didn’t care too much for either of these modes. It’s nice to have them there in the collection for people who want extra content, but I had enough after testing them out. My new favourite mode whoever wear the missions.
These are score challenges set in the levels of the four different games. So one, you might have to defeat five caterkillers in Sonic One. Another has you running through Sonic 2, saving animals while dodging a lot of enemies. Each one has to be completed within a time limit or by finishing it with a certain amount of rings. And I found myself hooked on trying to get S Rank in every mission.
And I had so much fun doing it. Especially since the better you do, the more gold coins you get. Yes, coins and not rings as you’ll use them to unlock some premium content in the museum, which includes things like music, tracks from across the series, early versions of new cut scenes, and more. But let’s step outside of the collection for a moment and talk about the games themselves. And I’m going to be frank, I’m wearing my allegiance on my sleeve.
I not only prefer 2D Mario games to Sonic when growing up, but I also enjoyed the 3D Sonic games more than the as a kid, I used to run through the classic Sonic games a bit like a headless chicken, never quite sure of where to go or how to play properly. But then on Sonic Origins, I found myself getting invested properly into the games.
While there were a few levels that don’t hold up great these days, like Labyrinth and Sonic One, I fell in love with what I can now see as classic experiences. There truly is a stellar line-up of levels that each have so much personality and diverse. It’s also fun and interesting to see the evolution of the series between Sonic 1, 2 and 3, such as Hell.
Having two axes instead of 3 improved the pacing of the Ladder game so much. This was ultimately first experience ever playing Sonic CD. I have to say it’s my least favourite of the bunch. I’ll start by saying that the original cut scenes for the game are amazing and it gave me high hopes for the game. However, I think it goes too far with a lot of what makes Sonic good.
Their many branching pads were what made Sonic 1, 2 and 3 phone, but Sonic CD pushed about way too far. The levels feel ten times larger than that of the other games, and the time traveling between past and future mechanic only adds to the complexity. While Sonic levels are definitely more labyrinthian than Mario, there’s just too much going on in these that are just got lost constantly.
Regardless of which mode you play them in, though, the art of the original games is still absolutely gorgeous, especially Sonic 3 and Knuckles as it’s the peak of video game 2D art from the early 90s. At points, I just had to stop and look at the beauty from the heavily detailed backgrounds to the slick animations.
Animation of Game
And speaking of animations. When playing an anniversary mode. Each game has a brand new fully animated intro and outro cut scene. Which are simply a sight to behold even Sonic TV. Although you can still watch the original cut scenes of classic mode even cooler.
These cut scenes now properly link the stories of the games together. Such as how Sonic 2’s Ultra Cut scenes Shells Robotnik’s dead Egg destroyed and Sonic 3K’s opening shows the same destroyed Robot and Egg man’s meeting with Knuckles. It really lends the entire collection of games a more cohesive field than ever before, and it’s a nice reward for long time Sonic fans especially.
Sonic Origin’s Music Tracks
We all know Sonic has some amazing tracks to this day. Marvel’s Own is still my favourite, and hearing it again instantly transports me back to playing Sonic One on my Genesis plug and Play.
I’ve also gained a new found appreciation for the later tracks that I wouldn’t have listened to as much as the early levels. Now of course, we have to mention the Elephant in the Room. Yes, Sonic 3 and Knuckles is missing a few tracks due to their alleged affiliation with Michael Jackson, so Sega said beat it to these tracks and compose new ones to replace.
They even went as far as to use a sound chip from the Genesis to make it sound as accurate as possible. And I’m not going to lie, I have very little memory of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, so I don’t have any nostalgia for the original tracks, which probably helped my impressions of the new ones as I didn’t find them to feel out of place at all. But the fact remains that it is an audible change, and it is unfortunate that Sonic 3 soundtrack couldn’t be 100% faithful to the original game. As a package, I don’t think there’s a better collection of classic games than Sonic.
Origins there is so much love pouring to every corner of the experience, from the overall visual upgrades to the new cut scenes and gameplay tweaks and the anniversary modes to the phone missions and unlockable museum content. I may have some issues with Sonic One, Two and Three and Knuckles like certain levels being slow and frustrating, and I may like Sonic CD less than the others, but there are still some fun games that many of us love.
They included everything with both the anniversary and classic modes. The Drop dash was amazing in Sonic Mania, and I love the addition of it here. It made the games much more fluid and enjoyable to play. The mission challenges are something I didn’t know I wanted, but I had so much fun chasing the S Rank. It’s one of the best collections of classic games I have ever played, as it made me love games that I previously only liked.