I’ve probably played 15 different variations of Sonic 1 since I first booted it up on my Megadrive one Christmas morning.
On mobile, via the Sonic Mega Collection, the SEGA Ages version, the virtual console editions, to name a few. But I think plugging in Sonic Origins for the first time made me realise I’ve had more than a healthy fill over the years.
Which seems ironic, frankly, considering this is the best presented, most remade and rejigged of any release to date and is far from just your traditional port.
Each game has an ‘anniversary edition’ which offers some neat extras. Alongside full widescreen support, there’s fully animated cartoon introduction sequences across the games which all synergise and a currency-based system that enables you to purchase items in a Sonic Museum. From top to bottom, all four games have never looked better.
It’s clear a lot of time and effort has gone into restoring these games and modernising them to ensure no quality is lost on our 48, 50, 70″ TVs. A remarkable feat, really, when you consider we used to play these games on 8″ sets.
The question is, how significant is this, and for me, personally, the reality isn’t very much. While it’s awesome to be able to play these 16-bit classics full screen without some propriety border around it, I guess, ultimately, it’s not something I felt like I needed to enjoy these games.
I can totally see the market for that, of course. There are people who’ve been crying out for these games being completely restored and getting the full update treatment. And when I was playing through each in turn, I found myself really impressed by the quality of the animated cutscenes. They’re beautifully designed and are lovely to look at, though they are pretty short and sweet.
The museum has a lot of lovely collectable items in there, things you’ve never seen before, but gathering the coins to unlock everything will take a very long time.
As for the main event, the full-screen Sonic experience, while it’s impressive in its scale and in motion, it doesn’t necessarily add to my personal enjoyment. Having played across a lot of different formats over the years, while I’m impressed with the amount of work that’s gone into this, I’m used to playing these games on smaller resolutions and screens. I’m fine playing the older way and don’t necessarily need Sonic to take up the full scope of my 52″ 4K TV to enjoy the game.
I also found some issues unique to this release, like partner AI being erratic and stuck on the screen. I also occasionally got stuck between springs and platforms and was forced to restart. It’s a really unusual issue to experience in games that rarely suffered from these problems before.
But that’s ultimately what SEGA are banking on with this premium £35 release. You’ll once again buy four games you’ve played many times before in a slightly different way. Yes, they hold up well. Yes, they’re still great games and are as enjoyable now as the day I first played them, and yes, the Anniversary Collection at least makes it easier to get the elusive Chaos Emeralds for the tougher bonus stages by allowing you to replay if you feel by spending Sonic Coins. There’s at least something different about these versions compared to others and it does make a good entry point for people who’ve perhaps never played the original Sonic four before.
For me, personally, I’d be just as happy playing Sonic on my Switch, or even diving into the Sonic Mega and Sonic Gems Collection on PS2 with the incredible library they offer. To be honest, those bundles also represent a better value for money.
Sonic Origins at least gives players choice between Anniversary and Classic modes, and as mentioned, these should be commended for not being straight ports, giving the games new lease of life. But ultimately what you have here are a set of games that have been out on just about every platform there is at a price that definitely raises more questions than answers.
Sonic Origins absolutely represents the best way to experience these classic games on modern platforms if you’ve never had the chance before. For people who’ve been here before, though, it’s questionable whether the new content is quite worth the premium price tag, especially with a bunch of surprising new issues.
+ Stunning animated sequences
+ Incredible restoration wizardry
+ Lots of cool discoveries in the museum
– Price is off-putting
– Character AI is a bit hit and miss and some bugs force restarts
Sonic Origins is out now on PC, PS5, Switch, and XSX
Played on XSX
Code Kindly Provided by SEGA