This time last year, Sonic Origins was released as a celebration of the titular hedgehog’s 31st birthday. Although imperfect in some ways, I still thought it was the best official way to play all of the Genesis classics. Exactly one year later, Sega has seen fit to follow up on that with a refresh. Sonic Origins Plus is here, aiming to make a smattering of improvements.
Everything’s Rosy and Red
Amy Rose has finally made her debut in the Classic Sonic format with Sonic Origins Plus. She ends up feeling quite similar to Sonic. Although she lacks his Drop Dash, she does have her Piko Piko Hammer. Any time while she’s in the air, you can tap the jump button again and have her swing her hammer around her. This is great for hitting enemies, stage objects, or items that are just out of your reach. Holding the jump button while descending also lets her dash forward and smash whatever’s in her way simultaneously. She plays quite differently from her other 2D appearances, but overall I am happy with this iteration of Amy.
On the flip side, Knuckles has finally become playable in Sonic CD. CD’s level design has a heavy emphasis on verticality and exploration, so Knuckles’ abilities to glide and climb fits in nicely. He also has some new level routes, but they look and play quite terribly. The level design in these new routes take a nosedive, feeling very dull and artificial; far removed from his organically implemented alternate routes in games like Sonic 3 and Mania. Instead, this just feels like something hastily thrown together in order to give Knuckles a niche he wasn’t in any real need of. It feels cheap in the same way that the missions from Origins’ base game did.
Get Your Game in Gear
The other big feature added in Sonic Origins Plus is 12 whole Game Gear Sonic titles. The timing of these games in this collection actually couldn’t be any better. Following the closure of the 3DS Nintendo eShop, there was no official way to obtain these titles before now. It’s great for preservation, and makes for an appropriate look into one of the lesser appreciated branches of Sonic’s history. Since these are very small and short titles made more as supplemental material, they’re also a lot more varied in terms of game genre. Unfortunately, that also means they’re very varied in game quality as well.
There are traditional platformers styled after the Genesis mainline games as well as racing games, puzzle games, and even something resembling a Metroidvania. Sonic Triple Trouble is probably the best game seen in this collection, being a decent if safe platformer that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It also introduced Fang the Sniper (otherwise known as Nack the Weasel), giving it some fairly important history, too. The Tails-focused spinoffs, Skypatrol and Adventure, are both also solid games that are well worth your time.
As far as games to avoid, I’d say you’re safe not playing the 8-bit iterations of Sonic 1 and 2, and especially Sonic Blast. Blast in particular I posit as being one of the worst games in the entire franchise.
Regardless of what you play, one issue will follow you into all of the Game Gear games. While the game’s visual emulation is fine, the same cannot be said for the sound. Be it music or sound effects, everything sounds incredibly off. Even though Game Gear games are supposed to have simplistic mono audio, here it seems like everything I hear is running through a wind tunnel. There’s a noticeable and garish echo to it, even the iconic “Sega!” soundbite sounds terrible. It’s because of this issue that I’m hesitant to say whether Origins Plus is the way you should play the Game Gear games or not.
Bugs Squashed and DLC Gained
“Origins 2.0” is what this refreshed iteration of Sonic Origins is called, referring to its bevy of improvements and bugfixes. Origins originally launched with a number of issues. Some of them were carryovers from the Genesis games, and some of them were brand new. While I’d say that overall these bugs were negligible to casual fans or newcomers, they weren’t for fans. Sonic 3 in particular had a host of new issues that left me scratching my head on more than one occasion. As of the 2.0 update, the broad majority of these bugs have been dealt with.
Overall, it’s not game-changing since there weren’t too many issues present in the base game to start with. That said, it is a slightly more consistent experience overall. All of these improvements are thankfully available regardless of whether you own the Plus DLC or not. What isn’t available is all the DLC that really doesn’t feel like it ought to be in the first place.
Bundled in with Sonic Origins Plus is more music for the game’s sound test mode. Music from Sonic Spinball, 3D Blast, Knuckles Chaotix, and more can be listened to at your leisure. It’s a nice enough bonus, but it does shine a light on their conspicuous absence as fully playable games. They were also Genesis games and just as important to the series as all the other games here, so it’s hard not to get the sense that something is missing.
The other DLC addition is the ability to look at the dioramas in the main menu by moving the camera around. Yes, you read that right. Camera control is DLC. The 3D dioramas are very nicely made and charming, but camera control being paywalled taints it a little. I suppose all of this does make Origins Plus a technically better package collectively, but this feels half-hearted to me. The added music is also nice, but it’s the same old Genesis tunes you’ve probably already heard before. There are no remixes or anything of the sort. I don’t mind any of this on paper, but it all adds up to something that feels more cynical than I’d like.
Sonic Origins Plus is an okay, but ultimately superfluous expansion to an already good collection. The addition of Amy is a net positive and a nice primer ahead of her playable appearance in the upcoming Sonic Superstars. Knuckles finally becoming playable in Sonic CD also feels like it fulfills an age-old promise, but in his case, it feels like too little too late. The Game Gear titles themselves are nice to see again, but many of them have little lingering novelty. Their shoddy sound emulation is also somewhat disappointing. If you don’t own Sonic Origins, go with the Plus version. But if you do, this will really only appeal to the most diehard of Sonic fans.
WAIT FOR SALE ON SONIC ORIGINS PLUS
If you would like to read about Platformer games, you might be interested to read this review of Sonic Colors Ultimate or Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. Or if you’ve not played Sonic Origins yet, check out our review of that.
Many thanks go to SEGA for a PC review code for this title.
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A hobbyist who took up the pen to write about their favorite pastime: games. While a lover of many genres, Isaiah Parker specializes in Platformers, RPGs, and competitive multiplayer titles. The easiest way into his heart is to have great core gameplay mechanics. Self-proclaimed world’s biggest Sonic fan. Follow him @ZinogreVolt