SONIC ORIGINS PLUS | REVIEW (PS5)
''SONIC PLUS FRIENDS''
Release Date: June 23rd, 2023
Platforms: PS5/PS4/XBOX FAMILY/PC/Switch/Epic
*Review copy provided to me by SEGA*
Sonic Origins Plus is the newest add on for its vanilla version of the same name, that is developed and published by SEGA. With Sonic Origins being a complete success, SEGA now decides to add to that greatness by bringing in new playable characters and a healthy round of Game Gear titles as well. But, is this newest addition worth your hard earned rings or should it be sent to the Scrap Zone? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
''AMY ALWAYS LOOKS OVERLY THIRSTY''
Its be a long long year with many games coming and going and some being really really bad, while others being contenders for game of the year. Roughly one year ago Sonic Origins, the vanilla original, was released to the public and was met with ''mostly positive'' praise. This release comprised of a comprehensive collection of classic SEGA Genesis titles like Sonic trilogy and Sonic CD for SEGA CD. With having a museum, new mini games and extra features, it proved to be worthwhile purchase for any Sonic fan out there. Not worth more of a purchase over a tub of chili dogs though, but that goes without saying, right?. Even though the vanilla version was considered a success, fans like myself and many others, felt more could be done, more remasters and features could be added to this due to the long line of gaming lineage Sonic as a series has, in regards to the classic console era. Well...everything but Sonic Fighters that is, we don't talk about Sonic Fighters, ok? great. Now here in 2023 it seems SEGA has listened to the fanbase, well mostly that is, and introduced a ''PLUS'' version of Sonic Origins with the promise of new playable characters and re-introduction into some of the other lesser played titles from the days on SEGA Game Gear. Seriously, I knew only one person growing up that even had one of these things, everyone else seemed to rock out their Gameboy and later on the DS. But that's beside the point. The plus update brings you up to speed on 12 titles that were specifically designed around the big and bulky Game Gear and provides people with their first look on games they might have missed out on...and... uh.. that may have been a very good thing for some of these titles because there are a few that have not aged well, like at all. Just like Sarah Jessica Parker. Huh?
But adding 12 Game Gear titles wasn't the only thing added to the mix, nope, because now Amy and Knuckles are also playable in the four primary games of this collection and each one of them adding a new dynamic to each title that makes it feel both new and familiar, due to their own individual play styles with Knuckles jumping and gliding, or Amy rushing and slamming with her hammer. Heck, even all the DLC previously released with Origins is bundled into this new pack, in case you didn't get it. That's actually a really good move by SEGA, any other company, it would probably cost $10 per color change for a character. Don't act surprised, you KNOW who I am talking about. But lets get on to the actual games in this collection already, alright?. The compilation brought to us this time is a very mixed bag to say the least, with some games being really bad and others being good to passable. The overall thought process was here, sure, nothing wrong with giving people more bang for their buck, but does more actually equal a good value? its hard to say, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The early 90s Game Gear games had a ton of flaws in them, mainly in the controls department and it made them feel rather clunky and even outdated during their own release time frame when they were brand spanking new. Knowing this information, we expected these Game Gear titles to be just as refined and given the level of care as the Sonic trilogy and even Sonic CD, but I feel we were only met halfway on this. You have new additions to these games with the feature of a save state that allows you to save each individual game at any point in time like if you're using a ROM on an emulator, that's all well and good, especially for me during games like Sonic Chaos where the controls are a bit funky, but I'm like screw it, It's time to get my Hyper Drive on and speed into action like the nuts as all heck, Axel, and hope not to die... but end up falling off a ledge because the games controls feel like you both walk on ice and also carry too much momentum with your jumps.
''ITS HAMMER TIME''
Once again, fans of these games or newcomers had expectations that the 12 newly added titles would bring fixes and altercations to the original 90s titles and introduce people into the games in a brand new way and... we were sadly mistaken. Everything you remember as a hindrance to these old titles like its frame rate dips, visual bugs, sounds here and there glitching out or stuff like slippery controls, they're all here and still present in these versions of the game. Games like Sonic Chaos would've benefitted from tighter control re-work that would pause momentum instead of pushing you forward with a simple normal jump or letting you stop momentum on a dime like in the Genesis games, instead of feeling like every single piece of platform you land on, is made of ice do to how much Sonic slides around and loses control. Sure integrating local two player co-op for games that used to have multiplayer at the time of their release in 1990s is a cool addition, but if they were reworking that much, at least to THAT extent, then it wouldn't of hurt to put a little bit more time into ironing out the bugs. I mean, who do they think they are, Bethesda?. Sorry Bethesda, I love you. You gave us the rabid fan in Oblivion, so you get a pass. With us now having the possibility of even more Sonic games returning in the future beyond Game Gear, it does raise a few questions at the same time. What about titles like Sonic 3D Blast, Knuckles Chaotix, 32X titles that became so obscure because it looked like you were making a damn mountain of a Jenga configuration on your Genesis, or even the Genesis version of Sonic Spinball. Which speaking of Sonic Spinball, truth be told, I had never played the Game Gear version of it and good lord, this is the one I definitely shouldve played first. It feels great, the levels are fluid, sound effects are good and the music is not ear grating like the abomination of Spinball on Genesis. SEGA, my ears thank you for not making them bleed again. But seriously though guys, where are those titles? you literally have references and info about them in the Museum unlockable section... so as our blue blur buddy says in Sonic Says, ''THATS NOOO GOOD''.
With the inclusion of playable characters like Amy and Knuckles to the original core games offered in the original version of Origins, I have to say that Amy is my favorite of the two. What? no no its not bias because of the name, its because shes a psychopathic serial killer with the thirst for blood. What?, no no, I mean, because of the way she controls and what she offers to the game play. While controlling similar to Sonic and his move set, she also utilizes a Piko Piko hammer of offensive capabilities that allows you to jump and smash enemies with it just during your normal jump animation, alongside hitting a drop dash to take out enemies at sonic speeds to enemies down below on the ground. She feels very balanced and someone that feels like they would've worked if they were in Sonic 1 and 2 from the get go, whereas someone like Knuckles in Sonic 1 and 2, sorta breaks the game due to how easy he makes everything feel as far as traversal goes and gliding is concerned. Sonic CD however is probably the somewhat weird transition for a new playables besides Sonic, especially Knuckles, because of the off the wall nature of the level design, which I talked about in my original Origins review, with it being like a fever dream, you'd think he wouldnt work in that environment because hes a character that feels more in line with explorative free roaming due to his flying and clinging, but you know what? holy echidna, he actually works really well in Sonic CD. Gliding and jumping actually is beneficial to the game overall with him and makes some levels more tolerable and instead of one specific route that Sonic would normally take, the team at SEGA actually created alternate routes and paths for him to discover and partake in, thus making Sonic CD actually feeling like a significant upgrade over its previous iteration on SEGA CD.
''OUT OF MY WAY OR DIE, TAILS''
At the end of the day, Sonic Origins Plus does a lot of things that have you scratching your head like adding games to the list of compilation that people might never want to play, lack of flaw fixing that plagued the original releases, lack of 32X themed games that are more popular and titles fans of the Sonic franchise actually want to play, and a slight feeling of missed potential, all that are downers for sure, no doubt. But not all is negative around these parts with keeping at least some sense of co-op with the Game Gear titles, new additions to playable characters with Amy and Knuckles that adds a lot more depth to the rosters and opens up new gameplay possibilities, additional routes to take as Knuckles in Sonic CD, a better version of Sonic Spinball for all our sakes, etc. While its not the greatest compilation out there with SEGA previously having done better in the game picking department with previous collections they've done, even with the negatives, I feel it can still be a solid experience if you're a long time Sonic fan. If you're a first time buyer, you're getting all the original content of 4 games, mini games, hours of unlockable items, 12 Game Gear titles, two playable characters, all for $40. Should you already own the game, those 12 games and additional content will run you only $10. For those prices, even with its shortcomings, I find this price a complete steal. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW