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Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood


After three decades of playing Sonic the Hedgehog games, I really should be immune to Sega’s speedy blue hero charms. Sound origins proved me wrong. Slightly irritable after a busy day, I loaded this collection of classic 90s platformers onto my PS5 and all the tension melted away as soon as I heard that iconic title track.

Sonic Origins, which hit PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on Thursday, includes Sonic Originals, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It also costs $40, which is a bit pricey for four retro games that have been released countless times over the years.

However, it’s beautifully presented, with plenty of modern twists and additions to spice up those older games and provide new ways to experience them. I spent most of my time playing in anniversary mode which gives you slightly improved visuals, full screen display and infinite lives because it’s new to this collection and I’m out of patience for game screens. I’ve seen enough of that when I was a kid, thank you.

For the purists, Classic Mode lets you play with retro visuals, a 4:3 aspect ratio (with bars on the sides of the screen), and limited lifespans. I’m glad it’s possible to recreate the old style of play, but that hardly seems like the ideal way to experience these games in 2022.

Diving into the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which first released Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive, as most regions outside of the US knew it) back in 1991, was as fun as it has been in over the past 31 years. There’s a satisfying sense of speed as you navigate the more open levels, while the more labyrinthine ones are fun to explore.

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

Playing as Tails in the original Sonic is one of the fun things about Sonic Origins.

Sega

It’s also harder than I remembered – the Labyrinth Zone Act 3 chase sequence took me way too many tries to get through (infinite lives, phew). Hearing the absolute Starlight Zone theme was worth it.

The first game looks relatively simple compared to its more sophisticated sequels, but remains an essential part of the gaming canon that everyone should play at least once. It’s also the console version where you can play as Tails and Knuckles (who were added in a 2013 remaster on iOS and Android), letting you explore levels in whole new ways with their flying abilities. , sliding and climbing.

Sonic CD is probably the game the fewest people have played since you needed the expensive Sega CD Genesis add-on to do so in 1993. I had never completed it before because the level design still felt like a step backwards from the Genesis. games and I had a hard time understanding the mechanism of time travel. (I just wanted to go fast!)

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

Sonic CD is the most eccentric game in the collection.

Sega

It does, however, have amazing music and animation – super cool anime-style cut scenes are included in all their glory. Good luck getting the theme song, Sonic Boom, out of your head too. Having finally completed it in this collection, it’s definitely a game I enjoy and look forward to exploring more, especially completing it allows you to play as Tails again. (Knuckles is unfortunately not playable in Sonic CD.)

Sonic 2 is my sentimental favorite, having spent countless hours on it since its arrival in Genesis in 1992. This game is the perfect sequel, adding layers of sophistication through more colorful levels – Chemical Plant and Casino Night Zones are particular favorites – whose more open design lets Sonic, Tails or Knuckles through. I ran into an issue where Tails (as a computer-controlled alt) got caught in scenery and kept trying to jump, resulting in an irritating bouncing sound until I had completed the level. Not revolutionary, but still boring.

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

Sonic and Tails take to the skies in Sonic 2, an image you may have seen in the 2022 film’s sequel.

Sega

The Final Boss (a design from the second film closely reflected earlier this year) is a lot easier than I thought it would be when I was a kid, but it still took me a whole bunch of tries and several increasingly irate rants at my partner about the frames of invincibility before beating him. I loved every second of replaying this amazing game.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles – presented for the first time in widescreen in this collection – is a bit like two games in one, as it merges Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. They were originally intended to be a single game, but Sega opted to release them separately in 1994 due to time constraints and cartridge size limitations (and presumably the opportunity to make more money) .

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

Sonic 3 and Knuckles have the most satisfying boss battles in the collection.

Sega

This game exudes confidence from the opening moments to the epic finale; Stunning character animations – seeing Sonic snowboarding at the start of Ice Cap Zone is always awesome – more levels than any of the others, compelling transitions between stages, loads of memorable bosses and moments of intense speed. Some of the music was changed for this version due to the late Michael Jackson. often reported involvement with the soundtrack, but that didn’t bother the experience too much for me.

I’m not as nostalgic for this game as the second, but playing one after the other highlights the superiority of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Picking Knuckles provides a very different experience than Sonic or Tails, encouraging multiple playthroughs.

There is also a lot of additional replay value in this collection. Once you’ve completed each game, you can access a mirror mode that lets you cycle through each level from right to left (which feels a bit fake at first), a boss rush mode that lets you successively challenge all big baddies and smaller missions that task you with beating a number of enemies or going through a challenging obstacle course.

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

Missions provide new challenges for Sonic veterans.

Sega

You can also play all four games in a fluid story mode, linked by stunning animated cut scenes created for Sonic Origins. In each mode, you collect coins that allow you to unlock music and art in the in-game museum – this element of the game feels a bit light, considering Sonic’s 31-year history – or try them again. special stages of each game if you’re trying to collect all the Chaos Emeralds (which you need to get the real endings).

A hard mode, additional music tracks, and some aesthetically pleasing menu options are exclusive to a $45 Digital Deluxe Edition, but they weren’t available during the review period. This article will be updated once I’ve had a chance to check out these features, but the game didn’t feel incomplete without them.

Sonic Origins review: This collection of classic games puts me in a better mood

This collection’s version of Sonic 2 includes the Hidden Palace area, which was not available in the original version.

Sega

Whichever edition you want, $40 is still a lot to ask for games that are decades old – Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack Subscribers can play a no-frills version of Sonic 2 at no extra cost right now. You can also play Sonic Mania, which paid glorious homage to these four games in 2017.

Despite the steep price tag, the Sonic Genesis games are some of the best platformers ever made, and Sonic Origins presents them in the most jaw-dropping compilation yet. If you’re looking to revisit classic 2D Sonic games or want to introduce them to a new generation of gamers who discovered Sonic through the recent movies, this collection is the easiest and most accessible way to discover them. And it always puts me in a better mood every time I load it.



CNET

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