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Sonic Origins review: Sega classics have never looked better

Is Sonic Origins worth buying? Find out with our review of the PS5 version.

Key art for Sonic Origins.
Sega
Published: Wednesday, 22nd June 2022 at 1:52 pm
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A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Arriving on consoles and computers this week, Sonic Origins is a snazzy new collection that brings together four of the classic blue hedgehog games in a shiny new package with a few fun features.

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The four games included are all bonafide Sega Mega Drive classics (or Sega Genesis classics if that was the console’s name in your region). Brought back to life here are 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog, 1992’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 1993’s Sonic CD and 1994’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.

Although these games have been ported onto modern systems countless times over the years (some of them even featured on the Sega Mega Drive Mini console a few years back), Sonic Origins feels like the definitive way to play them, with an admirable amount of effort going into the process of modernising them.

For one thing, all of these classics are now available with HD graphics and widescreen presentation. The colours really pop and it’s nice to see more of the level in the frame. That being said, if you prefer sticking to the original presentation, you can choose to play in the old squared-off aspect ratio if you so wish.

You’ll find the modern presentation in the Anniversary Mode of each game, which also adds one particularly massive improvement: the games now save your progress at each checkpoint, effectively giving you unlimited lives. You can keep on trying until you nail each boss battle and platforming segment, which will help a lot of people progress through the games in a far quicker way than before.

Again, though, this setting is an optional one. If you prefer to play with a strict number of lives, running the risk that you’ll need to restart the whole game if you fail too many times, you can do just that. And even with the unlimited lives turned on, you cannot save the game at any random point of your choosing - only the official checkpoints will trigger a save, which feels like a nice compromise.

Read More:

Screenshot of Sonic Origins.
Collecting coins will allow you to unlock extras in Sonic Origins Sega

This might be a case of stating the obvious, but it’s worth taking a moment here to stress just how good these games are. They’re classics for a reason, after all, and they’re just as fun in 2022 as they were at launch three decades ago. Whizzing through beautifully designed levels, spin-dashing through those peskily-placed enemies and gradually engineering Eggman’s downfall… as ever, it’s a great way to spend a few hours.

Revisiting the games with modern eyes, especially in the context of Sonic now being a blockbuster movie star, it’s very rewarding to remember just how iconic these first few games were. There are plenty of challenges, heaps of surprising ideas (the time-travel element in Sonic CD stands out as a bold move to this day), and some of the most memorable boss battles in gaming history to test your mettle to the max.

There’s extra fun to be had here beyond the games themselves, as well. New animated cutscenes have been created to bookend each of the adventures, while there’s a rich library of music and imagery to unlock and peruse as you go. There’s also a cool addition called Story Mode which mushes all the games together into one epic experience.

Another fun addition is the Boss Rush mode, available for each of the games, which allows you to face all the boss battles back to back; the ultimate challenge for any hardened fan. If you were the older sibling that used to coach younger kids through the boss fights, you’ll get a special sort of kick out of this we’d wager.

Sonic Origins screenshot.
All the bonus levels return in Sonic Origins Sega

However, there is one downside to this whole package - a bizarre selection of features are held back for customers who fork out more money. If you want extra retro music to listen back to, for example, you’ll need to buy the Classic Music pack to add some extra tracks to your library.

If you want Hard Missions that give you extra challenges in each level, you’ll need the Premium Fun Pack, which also makes the main menu background interactive amongst other cosmetic additions. Or if you want all of those things, you could buy the Digital Deluxe Edition.

Hoarding such minor features behind a variety of paywalls does leave a sour taste in the mouth, especially when Sonic Origins does so much else to preserve these games in a cool way. Focusing on the positives instead, it’s nice to note that the Blue Spheres mini-game from Sonic 3 & Knuckles seems to be included for all paying customers.

Putting those money-wrangling quibbles aside, it’s fair to say that Sonic Origins is a wonderful way to revisit these beloved games on modern systems. The games are just as great as they always were, and that’s the main thing!

Sonic Origins launches 23rd June for PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch and you can pre-order the game at any of those links. We reviewed on PS5.

Follow Radio Times Gaming on Twitter for all the latest insights. Or if you're looking for something to watch, see our TV Guide.

Visit our video game release schedule for all upcoming games on consoles. Swing by our hubs for more Gaming and Technology news.

The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Arriving on consoles and computers this week, Sonic Origins is a snazzy new collection that brings together four of the classic blue hedgehog games in a shiny new package with a few fun features.

The four games included are all bonafide Sega Mega Drive classics (or Sega Genesis classics if that was the console’s name in your region). Brought back to life here are 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog, 1992’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 1993’s Sonic CD and 1994’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.

Although these games have been ported onto modern systems countless times over the years (some of them even featured on the Sega Mega Drive Mini console a few years back), Sonic Origins feels like the definitive way to play them, with an admirable amount of effort going into the process of modernising them.

For one thing, all of these classics are now available with HD graphics and widescreen presentation. The colours really pop and it’s nice to see more of the level in the frame. That being said, if you prefer sticking to the original presentation, you can choose to play in the old squared-off aspect ratio if you so wish.

You’ll find the modern presentation in the Anniversary Mode of each game, which also adds one particularly massive improvement: the games now save your progress at each checkpoint, effectively giving you unlimited lives. You can keep on trying until you nail each boss battle and platforming segment, which will help a lot of people progress through the games in a far quicker way than before.

Again, though, this setting is an optional one. If you prefer to play with a strict number of lives, running the risk that you’ll need to restart the whole game if you fail too many times, you can do just that. And even with the unlimited lives turned on, you cannot save the game at any random point of your choosing - only the official checkpoints will trigger a save, which feels like a nice compromise.

Read More:

Screenshot of Sonic Origins.
Collecting coins will allow you to unlock extras in Sonic Origins Sega

This might be a case of stating the obvious, but it’s worth taking a moment here to stress just how good these games are. They’re classics for a reason, after all, and they’re just as fun in 2022 as they were at launch three decades ago. Whizzing through beautifully designed levels, spin-dashing through those peskily-placed enemies and gradually engineering Eggman’s downfall… as ever, it’s a great way to spend a few hours.

Revisiting the games with modern eyes, especially in the context of Sonic now being a blockbuster movie star, it’s very rewarding to remember just how iconic these first few games were. There are plenty of challenges, heaps of surprising ideas (the time-travel element in Sonic CD stands out as a bold move to this day), and some of the most memorable boss battles in gaming history to test your mettle to the max.

There’s extra fun to be had here beyond the games themselves, as well. New animated cutscenes have been created to bookend each of the adventures, while there’s a rich library of music and imagery to unlock and peruse as you go. There’s also a cool addition called Story Mode which mushes all the games together into one epic experience.

Another fun addition is the Boss Rush mode, available for each of the games, which allows you to face all the boss battles back to back; the ultimate challenge for any hardened fan. If you were the older sibling that used to coach younger kids through the boss fights, you’ll get a special sort of kick out of this we’d wager.

Sonic Origins screenshot.
All the bonus levels return in Sonic Origins Sega

However, there is one downside to this whole package - a bizarre selection of features are held back for customers who fork out more money. If you want extra retro music to listen back to, for example, you’ll need to buy the Classic Music pack to add some extra tracks to your library.

If you want Hard Missions that give you extra challenges in each level, you’ll need the Premium Fun Pack, which also makes the main menu background interactive amongst other cosmetic additions. Or if you want all of those things, you could buy the Digital Deluxe Edition.

Hoarding such minor features behind a variety of paywalls does leave a sour taste in the mouth, especially when Sonic Origins does so much else to preserve these games in a cool way. Focusing on the positives instead, it’s nice to note that the Blue Spheres mini-game from Sonic 3 & Knuckles seems to be included for all paying customers.

Putting those money-wrangling quibbles aside, it’s fair to say that Sonic Origins is a wonderful way to revisit these beloved games on modern systems. The games are just as great as they always were, and that’s the main thing!

Sonic Origins launches 23rd June for PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch and you can pre-order the game at any of those links. We reviewed on PS5.

Follow Radio Times Gaming on Twitter for all the latest insights. Or if you're looking for something to watch, see our TV Guide.

Visit our video game release schedule for all upcoming games on consoles. Swing by our hubs for more Gaming and Technology news.

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The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

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