Sonic Origins: a diehard fan’s perspective – Reader’s Feature

A Sonic the Hedgehog fan offers his view on the Sonic Origins compilation and why it may be the definitive version of the original games.

Let me first state that the Sonic games were my first real gaming experience; Sonic 2 to be specific. The Mega Drive was my first console, there were two Sonic cartoons running at the same time on television and even my bank (TSB) were running a promotion where you could go in and pay a pound to get Sonic posters. From my perspective at the time, the perspective of a child at least, Sonic was everywhere. So Sonic Origins is the peak of nostalgia for me, so I may be more forgiving for some things and less for others.

I’ve dipped in and out of the 3D games and have enjoyed and loathed their releases in (almost) equal amounts, but even with the 2D outings on the Game Boy Advance and the Rush series on the DS it’s never even closely matched the quality of those Mega Drive originals – and this is where Sonic Origins comes in for me.

I want to discuss this release as a diehard fan of the Mega Drive series. I’ve played these games inside out and even bought multiple standalone and collected re-releases over the years and, despite some issues, I believe these are the best re-releases the series has ever gotten.

So let me discuss the changes to the games that really elevate them for me; the widescreen support is probably the best new feature due to what it adds in presentation and extra reaction time. Glitch fixes such as Knuckles moving forward a couple of pixels when you look up is fixed and there are cosmetic changes such as Super Sonic having more sprites to accommodate certain situations, like spinning on a barrel. They even flipped the Tails biplane sprite so that Sonic’s name is now displayed correctly and is not just the right facing image flipped.

The special stages are now crisp and smooth and the special shields in Sonic 3 & Knuckles actually repel enemy projectiles. The integration of the drop dash from Sonic Mania and the intro and outro shorts are also worthwhile changes. You even get to play as Tails and Knuckles in the first game and get to use the spin dash. There are countless more changes, such as the reintroduction of the standalone Big Arms boss from Sonic 3 and Sonic 2’s secret Hidden Palace Zone being included, but I think I’ve gone over enough here.

That’s not to say everything is great though. I’ve noticed in Marble Garden Act 1 that once you reach a certain point where debris is falling it doesn’t stop unless you enter a Special Stage or complete the level. I’ve also noticed a lot of previously avoidable squashing situations where standing a little too close to a hazard or running too far ahead and merely brushing against a death trap will kill you. I’m positive this is far more forgiving in the original releases and it can be very frustrating at times.

The biggest issue for me though, and this is unavoidable, is the replacement music for Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I understand it had to be changed and I also understand that the ‘new’ tracks aren’t really new; they were the prototype tracks before the final music was added in. They were even featured in the original PC release. However, they just don’t sound right.

It’s all a matter of taste, and being so used to a game, but having such a major change undoubtedly colours my view and I think they sound ill-fitting and, worse than that, flat and without any bite. I would have preferred brand new tracks be composed but I do understand why they chose to work on these existing tracks. What I don’t understand is how they managed to make the prototype tracks sound less finished or developed than they were before. Regardless, it’s really just three zones.

It’s also disappointing that you can’t play the two halves of Sonic 3 separately, to appreciate all the differences between them, but the music was a large part of the change there too, so that goes in tandem with my points on the soundtrack.

I’ve read reviews bemoaning the lack of a rewind feature, like with the NES/SNES mini, but the removal of a lives system and the ability to use coins to replay special stages makes this a non-issue for me. I’m aware I’m only discussing the Anniversary editions, and neglecting to mention classic mode, the museum, boss rush, mirror mode or even mission mode but they’re not the real meat here and for the most part feel like padding.

I recognise that developers who have worked on the game are disappointed with the final product but I still think this is by far the definitive official release – and what would a Sonic game be without being rushed to meet a deadline? Even the original release of Sonic 3 was hurried out so fast it had to be split into two games to honour a deal with McDonald’s, so at this point, it’s par for the course.

In relation to that point, the development cycle of the original games is truly fascinating and I implore anyone with even a modicum of interest to look up information about this on The Cutting Room Floor website and also to watch the various YouTube retrospectives that outline the involvement of Michael Jackson and his team.

If Sega allowed a bit more development time and allow a patch to fix the criticisms Sonic Origins has received this would be a perfect release; I don’t think that’s likely though.

Sonic Origins’ admittedly inflated price is quite a barrier for newcomers (and even veterans alike) but I’m certain a price drop on this collection, or even just a physical release, would solve this problem and hopefully the sales would then be encouraging enough to Sega that Sonic Mania 2 will be greenlit. Maybe then the series could recapture what originally made it such a powerhouse in the Mega Drive era.

By reader Kane

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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