Sonic Origins REVIEW (PS5)
''The Need For Speed''
Release Date: June 22nd, 2022
Platforms: PS5/PS4/XBOX FAMILY/PC/Switch
*Review copy provided to me by SEGA*
''Not your donut lord''
Sonic Origins is a compilation of four great Sonic games that is developed and published by SEGA. With it being celebration time for the blue blur's anniversary, SEGA attempts to bring back and remaster Sonic's most memorable and classic titles for us to enjoy in the new generation. and add some extra goodies in there for extra measure. But do they succeed in their attempt at giving us a great remaster? or are we once again stuck in the dreaded Sonic cycle? only one way to find out, so lets go fast!
Sonic is once again on the fast track to success with more hits than misses lately. Sure, we had Sonic Forces, which didn't meet peoples expectations, like... at all, but in between that mixed bag, we had titles like the re-release of Sonic Colors Ultimate and the two amazing Sonic movies where we finally got the chance to see the gang of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles kick butt on the big screen and man was it awesome. Sonic puffing up the first Sonic movie after he went into the ocean on accident is basically in a nutshell how my goosebumps worked when watching the second movie... well minus the fish of course. But were not here to gush about the movies, nope, maybe in another side review I can tackle both movies, but were just here for the classic games. So let's spin dash right into it, starting with Sonic 1 and working our way down to Sonic CD and all the extra goodies included in this bundle. So lets dance!
Sonic The Hedgehog:
The big boy that started it all. Who would've thought that with the creation of this title, it would not only take the market dominance away from Nintendo single handedly, but also become an icon and mainstay for decades to come? kicking butt through the 90's, being awesome, ground breaking and... umm.. what else? yes that's right, unstoppable. From the get go crazy carl knew the impact the blue devil would have, even though no one believed him and his stories. They basically gave him everything but a jar of pickled farts, according to Sonic. But decades after its release, Sonic The Hedgehog is back again with both your classic mode everyone remembers and a brand new addition of Anniversary mode. The differences between these two modes are minimum at first glance, but ultimately have a major impact on how you play each version of the game and how you progress with the side content in relation to unlockables and collectibles. Which I'll get into those in my extra stuff section later on. Classic mode is exactly how you remember the original game, playthrough each stage and attempting not to get yourself killed due to you having very limited lives. Basic, sure, but still so much fun and keeps everything nice and challenging. Anniversary mode on the other hand is the exact opposite. Think of Anniversary mode as the easy mode for your Sonic games and you get the basic concept. In Anniversary mode, you have unlimited lives, but instead of getting game overs or having a chance at getting 1 ups, you instead are allowed to collect items known as ''Coins'', which act as your currency that you may use to buy illustrations and other neat stuff in the Museum section of the game. I mean, at least were actually paying for stuff ourselves, unlike Sonic who stole all those dang souvenirs and didn't pay for a single piece of merchandise. He clearly didn't take his own advice from his segments of Sonic Says.
Now I'm not going to go down the list and tell you how this game plays because lets face it, you already know, but I'm not got to skimp out either. The basic premise and your goal here is to run and dash your way to the end of each level, platform your heart out and beat the butt of the evil doctor robotnik, the good stuff. But what is my perspective on the first title in the series?. lets run that down. So as you start your game, you're immediately placed in a stage that has been done to death, but is always iconic, Green Hill Zone. Seriously, this level is used nearly almost as much as Fortnite and flossing jokes. I'm looking at you Eggman. The game starts off relatively easy for the most part between Green Hill Zones basic platforming, easy wrecking ball fight against Robotnik and more slower paced levels like Marble Zone that slows down the pace and makes you go into more traditional platforming with waiting for platforms to move so you don't get squashed, dodging fire hazards, swinging over pits of fire, really great level overall and man is the music just so damn good, I find myself every single time humming the beat of the level as I'm playing and even making Sonic dance to the beat of the music. However as you progress through the game, good lord does it get annoying or hard in some places, at least for me. Specifically Labyrinth Zone. Oh no. I cannot tell you how much I despise water levels. Whether its Sonic or Mario, they're the bane of my existence and I find them terribly annoying in Sonic games. Sure its not THAT hard of a level, but come on, it goes so slow and I spend more time looking for a bubble to use to get air back thanks to my own anxiety of suffocating the poor little guy, than concentrating on the creativeness of the level. It especially gets annoying when I go to make a jump and can't make it on a ledge and I'm left whining ''Guys I can't swim! someone help, if I die.. please.. don't look in my closet!''.
But whining about levels aside. The creative level design is actually what draws me into this title overall, more so than the speed factor, which in my opinion, albeit may not be a popular one, always makes me wonder something. When people talk about Sonic and his speed, they always bring Sonic 1 into the conversation, which honestly to me, Sonic didn't earn his speed license till part 2, as I feel the first game in the series was much more slower paced with methodical levels like Spring Yard Zone that has you waiting for platforms to move so they don't squish you, which I failed at numerous times, hop along obstacles that form walkable bridges or dodge spinning spike balls. Heck even Star Light Zone is filled with level hazards that slow all pacing down to a crawl and makes you utilize your platforming skills by jumping on see saws to make spiked boulders launch you in the sky, fans that blow you back, little robots that explode, etc. This game is overall in my opinion is definitely the hardest in the compilation too, at least for me. Scrap Brain Zone literally kicks my butt EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. with its squishing hazards, rotating platforms that I ALWAYS seem to fall off of, stupid electric currents that stop my momentum, disappearing platforms that make me fall to my death every now and then and only survive sometimes by being EXTREMELY lucky - and then there's... wait a minute.. dang it Scrap Brain, your friggin boss fight third act is also a water level? Ok now I know for sure I hate you. You aren't invited to the chili dog picnic with me and the crew.
Overall Sonic 1 is a solid experience, with great music, solid platforming sections, good amount of easy to hard game play that never seems unfair to the player, fun boss fights like Marble Zone where you dodge robotniks attempts to kill you while hopping over a fire pit and the bits and pieces here and there of being allowed to speed your way through the levels at your hearts content. It makes it so much fun. Sure I have gripes like Labyrinth Zone aesthetic being overly used and just using grey instead of washed out green, game length being really short with taking less than 2 hours to beat, and the last boss fight of the game being rather anti-climatic - but even with those. It doesn't stop this title from being just an absolute blast to play and a smooth feeling port of this classic title.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2:
The one to start it all for me. I touched on this a tiny bit in my Sonic Colors Ultimate review about the impact it had on me as a kid and the way it made me appreciate gaming in an entirely new way due to how different it was from anything I had played on the market at that time. SEGA saw the winning formula they achieved with Sonic 1 and amped it up to a 10. Why 10? uhh because SEGA does what Nintendont, obviously. Changing the pace from the first entry, Sonic 2 has you go absolutely bananas as you speed your way full throttle through each stage faster than ever before. Playing this as a kid and even now, it still makes me feel some kind of way. While Sonic 1 was really good in its own right, Sonic 2 is on a whole new level in terms of the imagination, design, music, boss fights and other aspects of the game that uses the environment to its advantage. In Sonic 1, the levels were fine, yes, but in Sonic 2 everything feels much more realized and thought out. One example of this is when you start your game on Emerald Hill Zone and right from the get go, the level by design encourages you to run your little feet off as fast you can with your rolling ability, tunnels that increase your speed, loops to continue your momentum. Really awesome stuff. But the beauty of Sonic 2 to me though is not only its speed that are you able to utilize, but also its ability to let you explore. Speed is the name of the game, true, but every level has branching paths or hidden walls to discover that give you extra abilities or coins. I always loved this because it appeals to both fans of the newer and quicker style, while also letting fans of the first game who like slowed down action, to still get exactly what they want. But this time, with a friend name Tails who uses his butt as a helicopter. Awesome.
The variety in Sonic 2 from Sonic 1 as I was saying before, is nuts. In Sonic 1 you had repeat level design, random configurations of platforms or obstacles that didn't really fit the level they were apart of at times, but here in Sonic 2, that's definitely not the case with zones like Chemical Plant who's level theme centers around oil and chemicals, and all parts of the level taking advantage of it in someway, like your ramps being conveyer belts, pipes and tubes to roll through or that shoot oil at you, and even the boss fight against robotnik in his hover vehicle, in which he uses oil and chemicals to fight you with. This also holds true for zones like Aquatic Run that fully exploits its environment in not only the way you play via a greek like setting and objects shooting arrows, but also in the way its boss is fought with the player having to stand on pillars or jump on arrows to gain the advantage over Robotnik. Also in a surprising twist, Sonic tackles his crippling gambling addiction in Casino Night after a night on the town with Donut Lord. I mean its better he goes out gambling than starting more bar fights, right?. It still amazes me that even playing it till this day that I'm still floored that you can go from grassy areas, to a casino, to underground dark caves, have tails take you on an awesome sky chase and then seamlessly transition to the next stage which is an airship. Every single level is better than the last and steps up its game in someway shape or form. Well, not you Metropolis Zone, good lord do I hate you, your level design, I hate you stupid mantis, I hate you too you dumb spike shooting star fish, I hate you dumb mechanical crabs, I hate... ok enough you get the point.
For me personally, Sonic 2 has always been relatively easy, at least compared to the first entry. But while yes it is easier by far, its also way more entertaining and fun than Sonic 1 as well. From the speed you move, the controls feeling more tight and responsive, zones feel lived in and more alive with extra character than in Sonic 1, secrets to find and unlock, boss fights that not only blow the first game out of the water but also are way more creative with the introduction of Mecha Sonic, who I absolutely destroy every single time, giant Eggman battle robot, which we saw in the second Sonic movie as well, which was awesome, laser shooting tar robot, infinite exploding Eggman and... hang on.. what? what the heck? that's not supposed to happen. Oh good lord. Jeez. He just won't die. I can hear his screams of anguish and despair. But anyways, you get the point I'm making here. Everything from top to bottom in Sonic 2 is an absolute blast years later and in this compilation, it still holds up superbly. I know you're wondering ''the extras? special stages, TALK ABOUT THEM''. Hey brains for bolts, chill out or ill stuff you in a Robotnik capsule with the other furry animals. Relax, everything will be in the Extra Stuff section.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
''Oh no''. I say in the ancient and wise words of Knuckles. Now before you get mad right away at me saying that, just know that I do not hate Sonic 3, it just happens to be my least played Sonic game out of the main trilogy for one reason or another. Now as a kid, I could remember playing it every so often with my cousins, but the only level I can remember seeing as a kid was Mushroom Hill Zone and I'm not sure why. Either that's as far as we got as kids or my brain got fried like Robotnik licking one of Sonic quills. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I actually remember sitting down and beating the entire game and having some mixed feelings about it. But that was then and this is now. What do I think now? the first time beating the game in like a decade? ehhh, my feelings are about the same really, mixed. I feel one of my problems with this title has always been its overall length in comparison to Sonic 1 and 2 and how those were short, sweet and to the point and never overstaying their welcome, but Sonic 3 and Knuckles, its double the length of the original and 3 more Zones than Sonic 2. As you build up your own personal momentum going through zones like Angel Island where in the first two minutes you get yoinked and robbed by Knuckles, who should be thrown in prison for that.. but then again, according to Sonic Boom, he might like that - watch Robotnik ignore the cries of Smokey The Bear and literally nuke and burn down the entire island, have fun spinning tops in Marble Garden Zone, enjoy the night at the carnival in Carnival Night Zone as you search for the clowns who say ''SONIC WAS NEVER GOOD, HE SUCKS'' and try to dodge the spinning dice platforms that look like teeth. I'm not the only one seeing that right? they super look like teeth. Even after you do those things, including surfboarding in snow down a steep mountain, which thankfully for my sake, controls on its own, otherwise I'd constantly hit my head against a tree like I do in Final Fantasy 7, spending 20 minutes juggling the end level sign, and literally fight 3 boss fights in a row versus Robotnik... you'd think that was the end, because you literally drop the Death Egg down onto Angel Island, killing millions, but is it? Yeah... nope.
I know it seems like I REALLY hate Sonic 3 and Knuckles, but that's just not true. I honestly think out of the trilogy of the games that not only does it have the best boss fights like Carnival Nights requiring you to hit a spinning top into an electric machine after you touch it before the top destroys the floor you stand on, mechanical ice ghost fight in Ice Cap zone that makes you pay attention and think on your toes, the chasing boss fight of Mushroom Hill that has you giving chase to Eggman as you dodge spiked balls while timing your jumps perfectly, kick the crap out of Knuckles just like we did in Sonic Adventure and Sonic movie 2. Even my favorite boss fight of the game on Marble Garden Zone that has you take flight with your good pal Tails as you fight with Robotnik in the sky is done amazingly. Now that's what I'm talking about, using the game mechanics of tails and incorporating them into a boss fight, its just great stuff. Sure it's easy as pie, but I love it nonetheless. But boss fights aren't the only thing that this game excels at either compared to Sonic 1 and 2. While Sonic 1 is still the hardest, Sonic 2 being the most balanced of the trilogy in both speed and platforming, Sonic 3 in my opinion has them both beat in both level variety and with the way the levels are actually designed in general. Everything in Sonic 3 feels like it has a purpose to be there and not just inserted for a cool aesthetic design. You see, while the game can linger on longer than it should, it's also a double edged sword in the same regard, because yes it feels like it starts getting tedious midway through, however, with each section of the game you get to, you see the developers really hit their stride and vision of where to take the blue blur next.. and it's definitely not to see the worlds largest rubber band ball.
Whether its the maze like layout of Marble Garden Zone that has you grabbing ropes to pull you to safety, spin dash buttons to raise the ground, use an out of control top to make your way to secrets or areas you haven't been to yet, using momentum to bounce off the walls back and forth like a freak on Angel Island, seeing the gigantic mushrooms of Mushroom Hill as you wonder to yourself ''Is THIS where Sonic was told to go in the first Sonic movie?'' or where Robotnik was trapped with his fake Agent Stone?. Then you have the amazing Flying Battery Zone that mixes the absolute best of Scrap Brain Zone and the airship in Sonic 2 with every part of the level always blowing me away with the transition from the innards of the ship, to outside swinging and slinging yourself along its propellers. To put it simply, I feel Sonic 3 and Knuckles in this regard, far outmatches Sonic and 2. Again, its my least played Sonic, the one I find most tedious to sit through, but I can't deny it has some of the best music.. well not in Origins, but in the original, the most expansive and thought out level design, more engaging boss fights and just the right amount difficulty that comes in the middle of ''too easy'' and ''too hard''. Its just right. Plus it actually has a great special stage, suck on that one, Sonic 1, I absolutely SUCK at the rotating room on that one.
We have arrived at the end of our journey with the four game compilation and we end it with probably the most confusing and weirdest games on top of it.. at least for me anyways. Growing up playing Sonic CD and even in my adult years playing through it, its always brought me joy because its so dang different than the other entries, and because of that, it's all over the place as well. Compared to the Sonic trilogy, the level design in Sonic CD is bad in comparison and runs along the lines of a jumbled mess to me. Certain sections like Collision Chaos looking like a badly designed cyber kinetic future environment with Amy, before she became a psychopathic stalking killer, getting kidnapped by Metal Sonic. Sounds cool right? well ya that part is, but the level itself having random tunnels where it makes no sense, bouncing ramps just out of place, the bumpers from the Sonic casino levels just hanging out in the air... aesthetically when compared to the levels layout and structure... nothing makes any sense. But it gets way worse for me once you start using the Future and Past time warping mechanic in the game. First example of this is Palm tree Panic, great level by itself, I actually like it a lot when you're in the past, especially the awesome 3D ramp running, I never get tired of that, but uh oh, notice that? you hit the Future sign, now anytime you gain momentum, you will be warped to the Future where the level becomes a complete train wreck with destroyed structures, out of place platforms and obstacles, bland and dull lifeless colors. Look I get it, its Robotnik's future should you fail, but man, destruction was done way better in the previous entries. While I appreciate the devs using new ideas with time travel because the concept is super great, it does however tend to get annoying when you're just trying to beat a level and get stuck in an endless game of bouncing back and forth on accident on springs, forcing you to jump back and forth over and over between past and future. Basically on the same level of annoying as Simon's Quest with the switching between day and night system.
Even though the level design this go around leaves much to be desired, the title does have quite a few things that make the experience overall pretty enjoyable. For one, there is absolutely zero down time in this game, its just one level after another, no filler, just straight up gameplay and nothing else. This in part is one of the reasons the game is so damn short and honestly feels like its shorter than the entire trilogy. But because of this, it makes it a roller coaster of intensity as you push through the crystal mazes and tree top vines of Quarts Quadron, the cyberpunk looking Future of Stardust Freeway that culminates in a race to the death with Metal Sonic, take on the role of the REAL baby Sonic as you shrink yourself down to size to fit into hard to reach places as you explore Metallic Madness, etc. There are genuinely really fun levels in this game, but again they don't always offset the confusing ones like Wacky Workbench. If you were in the room watching me play and seeing how lost I always get and wandering around for what seems like forever, you'd be like ''what the heck are you doing'' and I'd be like I have NO idea. But what of the boss fights? so far in every entry they've improved right? well yeah, kind of. Sonic CD's boss fights are just as creative as what you find in Sonic 3 with boss fights like Eggman's shielded mech that looks like ED-209 from Robocop, underwater fight against Robotnik with his shield of air pocket bubbles, using your speed to lower Robotnik onto a conveyer belt to destroy his hiding device and so on. But the main negative against the boss fights though has to be in regards to how easy they are. No joke, they're Kirby level easy. Some even requiring one hit only after climbing straight up to bop Eggman on the snoot. Its...extremely underwhelming.
So clustered level design, easy boss fights, frustrating Past and Future mechanics are definitely the biggest debbie downer in the room, that's for sure, but I feel the game does make up for it a bit with its 3D ideas, quick and to the point levels that are on par with the way Sonic 1 and 2 run, actual cool level design of some of the futuristic levels like Metallic Madness, banging ''Sonic Boom'' theme song and animation and one of the best mini games of the series that allows you quick and efficient ways to earn Time Stones. Is it the best game in this compilation when stacked up to the others? ehhh, no, but it's definitely not a bad place to start either if you've never touched it before. Definitely give it a look.
So what do you do after you've beaten your Anniversary modes and Classic modes for each game? well that really depends. Upon completion of each individual game, you will be able to take on Boss Rush modes for every single game where you fight all bosses in a row in a gauntlet style fashion. This mode is really cool, especially if you're up for a good challenge or just want to see the cool boss fights again. But that's not all, you can also take part in Mirror Mode where the dang levels are reversed. While this is cool and all, I can't do it, I can barely play some of these levels normally, so you expect me to try it BACKWARDS?. Well I did give it a try. Dang it I suck. Besides the addition of Boss Rush, Anniversary and Classic modes which actually allow you to play as Tails and Knuckles respectively and changes the gameplay dramatically, you also unlock one of my favorite special stages in the entire series, Blue Sphere mode. Here in Sonic Origins, you get two options, Original Mode which is straight up the same levels from Genesis you can play, which is fun as all heck and makes me just want to blurt out ''Aww yeah, this is happening'. You also have New Mode that consists of brand new Sphere levels that were created specifically for Sonic Origins itself and holy froggy are these tough. Not only do you have your regular fast paced mini game, but now you have green balls to bamboozle you that don't go away when touched and pink sphere's that teleport you to a different location of the map. Man, those damn green balls, always in the way. You know all about that, right Fiona?
But the fun doesn't stop there, nope, I'm telling you this game is packed more with content than Sonic's mouth at an all you can eat chili dog buffet. Even after ALL that, you can still take part in a brand new mode called Mission Mode. In mission mode you have the option to play ''Story'' which lets to play through Sonic 1 to CD in succession in one continuous experience, which is really fun. Plus you can play nearly every act in an entirely new way under Mission mode as you re-tread your way through Zone's and Acts trying to complete objectives like defeating 5 Catekillers, defeat 20 enemies mid air, reach the goal while dodging hazards, defeat ten bat bots within 1 1/12 minutes, etc. This no doubt will give you many more hours of enjoyment, guaranteed. Some of these dang missions are pretty freakin hard too. Finally, last but not least, Museum mode. Remember when I mentioned a currency of coins you can gain from mini games or getting One Up's during anniversary mode? well here's where you can actually use those puppies. Keep replaying missions, complete side content, mini games etc and unlock awesome Movies such as Sonic 30th Anniversary Symphony, illustrations showcasing classic game cover art and IDW comic covers, and soundtracks from the entire game. The amount of extra content in this game absolutely floored me and I can't wait to keep playing and attempting to get every single thing available. So is that finally it? were finally done? Yes yes, were done. Well except for one cool little thing. Going to your main menu screen and pressing Island Tour, you'll be able to control the camera and get a closer view at all island hubs of each game and you'll see an awesome new addition of Classic Sonic, Tails and even Robotnik hanging out, running, waving and doing different animations. Its small but I love it a lot.
At the end of the day, Sonic Origins allowed me to take a very nostalgic trip down memory lane, both in a good and bad way. The good obviously was allowing me to re-live my childhood with some awesome experiences from games I loved for many years and allowed me to appreciate them on an even new level. But the bad also got in the way by realizing how tedious some of the events in Sonic 3 could get, some glitching in Sonic 2 with exploding Robotnik, extremely easy boss fights in Sonic CD that borderline feel like Kirby's Epic Yarn, and the stupid stupid water levels, much like Anakin hating sand, I now hate water. But personal whining aside, even with the bad, the positives I've mentioned throughout and even down to the over abundance of end game content to complete, the good outweighs the bad in my opinion. I know people have been harping on this collection for its glitches and bugs and I'm sure most are legit, but I can't use their experiences as mine, as I only ran into 1 or 2 my entire time with the game, so I can't really say if its them overreacting like Sonic fans tend to do, *cough* Sonic Frontiers* or real legit problems that need worked out on titles like Sonic 3. All I know is I had a great time and now I shift my focus to the next big game on the horizon, Sonic Frontiers. Personally I am hyped for it and love what I see so far, so hopefully it lives up to expectations when it finally arrives, but.. that's a story for another time. So with all this rambling having been said, as far as the game goes on PS4 and PS5, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW