Sonic Origins Plus

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Sonic Origins Plus – Review

Since 1991, everyone’s favourite hedgehog has been rolling around at the speed of sound across SEGA’s entire console history, all the way to modern consoles. Taking over for Alex Kidd, Sonic has been the face of SEGA and a pop culture icon for over 30 years. His early games made him the cool alternative to rival Nintendo’s Mario, focusing on fast paced gameplay, which was ahead of its time in the 16-bit era.

In 2022, Sonic Origins brought those classic games to modern consoles as a compilation pack with loads of extra content to celebrate its 31st anniversary and now its expansion, Sonic Origins Plus jams even more content to celebrate its 32nd anniversary and is now available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

The original ‘Sonic Origins’ included Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles (this time as one whole game instead of being split into two separate games), while the Plus expansion adds in Amy Rose as a playable character for the first time in the classic games, makes Knuckles playable in Sonic CD and even throws in 12 Sonic games from the Game Gear, which was Sega’s handheld console to rival the Nintendo Game Boy.

The main story across the main games is Sonic and his friends trying to the stop Dr. Eggman’s evil plans of collecting the Chaos Emeralds and taking over the world. Full animated cutscenes will be shown between each game, which the original releases of each game didn’t have, except Sonic CD which has its original cutscenes included. The cutscenes may be short and have no voices, but they add so much context setting the stage when starting each game and conclusions after completing them.

The cartoony art style and iconic soundtracks add a lot of charm and nostalgia, and it’s interesting to see how Sonic first met Tails, Amy’s love for Sonic, and how Dr. Eggman convinced Knuckles that Sonic is the real bad guy.

Each of the main games can be played in either Classic or Anniversary Mode. Playing in Classic Mode allows players to experience each game in their original formats and in a 4:3 screen setting. Anniversary Mode puts each game in a 16:9 setting and the pixelated 16-bit graphics still look fantastic on a widescreen format and is a very welcomed upgrade to the timeless classics. Anniversary Mode also replaces lives with Coins, which can be used as an extra life after a Game Over, retrying Bonus Stages or unlocking more content in the Museum.

The gameplay and simple controls are just as good as ever. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose are playable in each of the main games, and in some games, Tails can even be paired up with the other three just like he was with Sonic in the second and third games. Each of them has their unique abilities that set them apart, and Sonic even has his Drop Dash move from 2017’s Sonic Mania.

One of the most exciting additions in the Plus expansion, is Amy Rose becoming a playable character for the first time in the classic games. Just like the others, she has super speed and can Spin Dash, but also comes equipped with her Piko Piko Hammer, giving her some unique moves. It can be used to increase her attack range while jumping or similar to Sonic’s Drop Dash move, but with her running on foot while swinging the hammer, taking out any enemies in the way. Her inclusion adds more variety to the classic games and provides a new experience for longtime fans.

A list of Missions offers players a wide variety of tasks to complete in each game, which works similar to Achievements on Xbox and Trophies on PlayStation such as Spin Dashing a number of enemies or collecting a number of rings plus more. Mirror Mode is another exciting addition that flips all the stages in each game, so you’ll be playing from right to left instead of the traditional left to right.

It might sound simple at first, but it can quickly become confusing trying to keep moving in the correct direction, especially for veteran players who know the stages like the back of their hand. This provides a whole new challenge for fans of the classic games.

The 12 Game Gear games include Sonic 1 and 2, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Drift 1 and 2, Sonic Triple Trouble, Sonic Pinball, Tails’ Skypatrol, Tails Adventure, Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic Blast, and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. They all play just as good (or as bad) as they did on the Game Gear and offer some extra challenges for players wanting just a little more. Some were even Japanese exclusive, so this will give many players a chance to try them for the first time.

The menu screens are really something to admire, with full 3D models of scaled-down islands representing each game and familiar characters hanging around. The Museum features loads of extra content that can be unlocked including all the cutscenes, music, original concept art from the development of each game plus more. Everything included is an absolute treat for Sonic fans new and old.

Many of the iconic soundtracks from Sonic’s early years are also back, except for a select few stages in Sonic 3. While SEGA has never spoken publicly as to why certain tracks had to be replaced, it’s been reported it’s due to licensing issues with Michael Jackson, who was brought in to help work on music for the game back in 1994, but was facing certain allegations at the same time and SEGA wanted to distance themselves from him.

The soundtracks for Carnival Night, Ice Cap, and Launch Base which are fan favourites, have unfortunately been replaced by their prototype themes which aren’t terrible, but are nowhere near as good as what we heard in the original releases. Fortunately, though, all other fan-favourite tracks remain intact.

The Plus expansion also seems to have fixed the glitches and bugs from the original version and in my personal experience, I’ve yet to encounter any and the games feel just as good as they did back in the day. The expansion can be purchased as DLC for those who already have the original digital-only game, or included with the now physical game. It is odd though, that the physical disc is only the original game and the Plus expansion is a download code, which could be problematic for anyone without internet.

This may not be the first time SEGA has done a compilation pack of the classic Sonic titles, but Sonic Origins Plus does so much more than just another compilation. It allows players to experience each game in its purest form, or play them under unique conditions providing whole new challenges. It somehow reinvents the timeless classics without compromising what made them huge sellers in the first place.

Hopefully, this will inspire SEGA to add even more classic games in a future update, specifically Knuckles’ Chaotix. The classic Sonic games have really stood the test of time and are showing no signs of slowing down. Sonic Origins Plus is no doubt the ideal Sonic compilation pack to be running on your home consoles.

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The Good

  • 4 classic Sonic games plus 12 Game Gear games
  • Amy Rose finally playable in the classic games
  • Relive classic Sonic games under new conditions
  • Full animated cutscenes
  • Museum is jam packed with content

The Bad

  • Some Sonic 3 stage music was replaced
  • Physical game only has original game on disc and Plus expansion as a download code

Written by: Sammy Hanson


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