Sonic Origins Review

Richard Walker

In lieu of a Sonic Mania 2, which is, unjustly, unlikely to ever happen, SEGA is back once again, mining the old glory days of Sonic the Hedgehog with Sonic Origins. If you're rolling your eyes at the prospect of yet another Sonic collection (there have been loads of them), rest assured that you're not alone. But hold on for just one second, because this is a fairly worthwhile package, presenting four (but sort of five) Sonic the Hedgehog titles from the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis and Mega CD era, brimming with extras. The twist here is to be found in the polished-up 'Anniversary Edition' versions of each game, while purists can enjoy the 4:3 aspect ratio and rough edges of the untouched originals. Sonic Origins is a pretty neat prospect, though not without a handful of quite glaring issues.

Ice Cap, baby.

Among these is the omission of half the Sonic 3 soundtrack, due to a deeply odd, and rather messy, legal dispute, which may or may not relate to Michael Jackson's rumoured involvement. And, while the changes seem entirely justified, the replacement tunes – made using the original sound chip – are vastly inferior to the originals. Of course, only old sods like me, who grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Mega Drive, Master System, and Game Gear (and just dedicated an entire paragraph to it), will care about such things, and, if it's something you're willing to overlook, there's still an awful lot to like in Sonic Origins.

First and foremost, the presentation is superb, opening with a lovingly animated intro and interstitial animated sequences bookending each game. These serve as a neat connective tissue between Sonic 1, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles have been mashed into a single game, (as if the Sonic 3 cartridge has been shoved onto the Sonic & Knuckles one), and make playing the Anniversary Editions of each feel somewhat fresh. And for someone who's completed all of the games in this collection more times than I can count, making Sonic feel vital again after more than 30 years is no mean feat. But despite unifying the experience with a Story Mode and making Sonic's abilities uniform across the board - you can now spin dash in Sonic 1 for the first time, and perform the drop dash from Sonic Mania – having the Master System and/or Game Gear versions would have made Sonic Origins feel far more complete and definitive.

The fact that certain extras have also been confined to paid DLCs also smacks of egregious cash-grabbery, although there are numerous items of bonus content to unlock in the Museum using 'coins'. Why on earth frames for the classic 4:3 editions are locked behind a $3 DLC pack, is beyond me. Nonetheless, the music, videos, and illustrations you can access via the Museum are a nice touch. For some players, the Anniversary Editions will represent a nice, palatable way to play, with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles available as playable characters in certain titles, a fullscreen experience at up to 4K resolution, and infinite lives. It's here, and in the game's array of Missions, that you can also earn coins for unlockables and for Special Stage retries, offering some impetus to explore Sonic Origins' various supplemental content.

I can hear this screenshot.

Completing each game also grants access to the self-explanatory Mirror Mode, which enables you to replay the entire thing with every level flipped, if you so desire. Boss Rush mode is the icing on the cake, part of an effort from SEGA to provide numerous ways to rediscover and replay Sonic Origins' four games. If all of this makes Sonic Origins seem like a generous package, you'd be partially right. However, another problem that rears its head is the absence of basic features you'd normally expect from a retro collection like this. You won't find manual saves (instead star post checkpoints and completed levels serve as autosaves), and you won't find anything like a rewind feature in Sonic Origins – it's surprisingly lightweight when it comes to quality of life or technical options.

Ordinarily, I'm a complete sucker for a Sonic the Hedgehog collection like this, and, while the upgraded Anniversary Editions of Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic CD are a nice thing to have (and they’re still cracking games), it's hard to justify the $40/£33 price tag, considering the various omissions and oversights. Given the quality and generosity of SEGA's previous Sonic collections, Sonic Origins feels a little miserly by comparison. Still, if you've yet to delve into Sonic the Hedgehog's original '90s outings, or if you're searching for an excuse to play them again, then you could do worse than Sonic Origins – it's clear that there's more than a modicum of love for the blue blur in this bundle, but a dearth of modern features that you'd normally take for granted in a collection like this, and content locked off in paid DLC, make this a tricky thing to heartily recommend.

Sonic Origins

While it's almost impossible not to have fun with Sonic Origins, it is easy to lament the missing features, neutered Sonic 3 soundtrack, and absence of the blue blur's outings on the Master System and Game Gear. Disappointing.

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All of those old Sonic tunes are still delightful earworms, while the sound effects will elicit immediate nostalgia. It's a shame that Sonic 3 is missing half of its original music, though.


Origins' Anniversary Editions breathe new life into Sonic's 2D Mega Drive/Genesis outings, with fullscreen presentation at up to 4K resolution. The animated cutscenes are great, too.


There's no faulting how well Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequels still play, and in Sonic Origins, it's all remarkably slick. The addition of the drop dash from Sonic Mania is a nice touch.


Anniversary and Classic Editions, Boss Rush, Missions, unlockable Mirror Mode, and the Museum make for a neat package, but the lack of any meaningful extras or features leave this feeling like a rudimentary offering.


A strong list that makes you want to poke around Sonic Origins' various modes, unlock some of its Museum content, and tackle its Missions. Consider all of the bases duly covered.

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