“It doesn’t matter now what happens. I will never give up the fight. There is no way I will run away from all of my pride. It doesn’t matter who is wrong or who is right.” These are the lyrics from Sonic Adventure’s soundtrack for the song “It Doesn’t Matter.” You may be asking yourself why I am using these lyrics as the opening for my review of this game. That is because those lyrics perfectly encapsulate my feeling for not only Sonic Origins but this franchise as a whole.
ORIGINS OF MEDIOCRITY
In the state that it is, Sonic Origins has no business charging $40-$45 for an entry fee. The collection offers four mainline Sonic games with widescreen support, a few new animated cutscenes, and a few extras that could easily have been implemented in the original versions with mod support.
Playing as Knuckles in Sonic The Hedgehog 1 is nice, but none of the levels have been altered to adjust to his play style, so you are essentially just playing the first game with the ability to glide. Also, you are now able to transform into your super form by pushing a specific button. This was nice, as in the previous games, once you had all the Chaos Emeralds and pushed the action button in mid-air, you would automatically transform whether you wanted to or not. So giving players one specific button to go super and the others to perform another action is something I can appreciate.
Widescreen support is also welcome, and so are the HD textures, but they are still the same games with no additional levels or changes to existing ones. Since this is supposed to be the definitive way to play all these classics, why not pack in as much content as possible?
A STAGGERING LACK OF EXTRAS MADE ME UNINSPIRED TO KEEP PLAYING
Why not have a bunch of Sonic Game Gear games you can unlock with the tokens? Sonic Adventure DX, released in 2003, had 12 Game Gear games that could be unlocked. There have been numerous collections of various Sonic games throughout the ages. So why should this one be any more special?
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, which came out in 2009, had 40 games on it, all upscaled in HD, and had unlockable interviews with many Sega employees. Why not go the extra mile and add a bunch of cool extras? For example, why not put the 1993 Japanese-only Sonic The Hedgehog arcade game on here and let US fans play it for the first time with an official English translation? Why not have a hub world similar to Sonic Jam on the Sega Saturn where you can walk around as Sonic and interact with things? Maybe have it so that you can walk around and purchase things from a store while the environment gets bigger the more things you unlock.
I’m not saying this needed to be a complex hub world full of things to do. Have it like Rayman Legends, where you have a central hub, you can walk around in, and certain things are held behind chains until you unlock them. Maybe have some fun mini-games that you can play in the hub world, like the Game Gear games. Adding more pizzaz to the presentation would have spruced up this bland collection. Instead of doing something creative, however, Sega seems to think that the bare minimum is acceptable, as they hide some of the best stuff and even some of the most basic things you would expect from a classic Sonic game behind a paywall.
SO MANY GAMES HAVE DONE COLLECTIONS LIKE THIS BETTER
As I stated earlier, $40-$45 is the entry fee for this game. There are coin packs that you can purchase for an additional price. You can earn these coins in-game by performing challenges. However, it’s much easier just to buy them because nothing says old-school 1990s Sega Genesis like microtransactions, am I right?
What can you buy with these coins? You can unlock a bunch of cool extras from the menu, like the Sonic Spinball theme and the alternate music from the Genesis games. That’s right — you have to either pay real money or grind to unlock the basic soundtrack. And if that’s not bad enough, the original Michael Jackson music for Sonic 3 isn’t available due to copyright issues.
What we got was music that was made for the 1997 PC port of Sonic 3 And Knuckles. So you either have to pay real money or grind for hours to unlock basic music that isn’t even part of the original games’ soundtrack. As a result, this collection isn’t feeling as “definitive” as they claim. Other things you can unlock are a hard mode, which makes the game harder, and a mirror mode that mirrors the levels.
I didn’t have the patience to unlock everything, and this is coming from the guy who spent hours and days trying to get all the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic Mania. The difference between this game and that game is that Sonic Mania had fun level designs and gimmicks that made each stage feel fresh and new and incorporated a genuine challenge that rewarded you by getting better at the game. And, of course, it didn’t have microtransactions. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for Sega to make a Collection of Sonic The Hedgehog games that feel fresh and interesting.
SEGA DID SO WELL DECADES AGO, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?
The blueprint for a great homage was already laid out over four years ago with Sonic Mania. Hell, Sega themselves did this with Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection in 2009 and even Sonic Jam back in 1997.
If this game came out back in 2008 with no microtransactions, I would probably think highly of it. However, it simply doesn’t justify its existence as it stands now. With Sonic Origins, the developers have demonstrated their didactic due diligence by trying to pull on the heartstrings of classic fans, only to remind them why this franchise has been the butt of industry jokes for so long. There is nothing particularly wrong with the games themselves. I loved these games growing up as a kid. However, it’s because I love these games so much that I need to call out Sega on their sloppiness.
Call it my unyielding love for the franchise, but Sega needs to amp up their game if they want to earn my respect back. Sorry Sega, but a few new animated cutscenes I can watch on YouTube for free and a bunch of hackneyed ports of games I’ve purchased dozens of times aren’t enough to justify the price tag. Going back to the song “It Doesn’t Matter,” maybe someone should let Sega know that pride comes before the fall.