Sonic Origins Plus: A Nostalgic Journey for Sonic Fans
Sonic Origins Plus (Sonic Origins) made its way into the gaming scene in May 2021 and has since captured the attention of Sonic fans everywhere. Developed by Headcanon and Sega, this 2D platforming package offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane, although some aspects may leave hardcore fans feeling perplexed and dissatisfied, especially when it comes to the audio quality.
The original package includes classics such as Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. The Sonic Origins Plus DLC takes it a step further by adding an additional 12 Sega Game Gear Sonic franchise titles, including some that were exclusive to Japan.
In addition to the expanded game selection, the plus pack introduces playable characters Knuckles in Sonic CD and Amy Rose in Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. The inclusion of Amy Rose is a particularly exciting addition for fans, as she brings her own unique abilities to each game. However, the debate over whether paying $10 for the DLC solely to play as Amy or Knuckles is worth it is still ongoing. Some argue that these characters should have been free DLC, while the Game Gear titles could have been sold separately. Nevertheless, Sega chose to bundle all the content together.
The Game Gear titles included in Sonic Origins Plus offer a mixed bag of experiences, with some games that should have remained in the past. That being said, for fans of video game history or Sonic enthusiasts, having access to all of these titles in one package is a cool feature. Unfortunately, these titles suffer from performance issues, particularly in terms of audio quality. Furthermore, Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, both originally released for the Game Gear, feel like missed opportunities in this collection. Sega could have easily included the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive versions of these games, but they opted not to.
Nostalgic Animated Openings and Gameplay Modes
When launching any of the four major games in Sonic Origins Plus, players are treated to animated openings that evoke the iconic style of the 90s. The animation team deserves praise for their work on these newly animated cutscenes, which add an extra layer of charm to the game. However, fans may find themselves wishing for more of these scenes, as they are relatively short in duration.
Sonic Origins Plus offers two gameplay modes for each major Sonic title: “Anniversary Mode” and “Classic Mode.” Anniversary mode provides unlimited lives and fullscreen support, while Classic mode stays true to the originals with their lower resolution visuals. Players can easily switch between games and interact with a diorama map displayed on-screen. While this feature allows for zooming in and viewing characters, its functionality is limited.
One major criticism of this collection is the lack of quality-of-life improvements commonly found in remastered older games. Many retro games have received features such as rewind functionality, CRT filters, and save states. However, Sonic Origins Plus falls short in this regard. The only notable feature is the inclusion of a Museum where players can browse concept art and manuals. It would have been appreciated if Sega had included more bonus features, especially considering the premium price point of the game.
While players can listen to the original soundtracks, there is no option to fast-forward through tracks, forcing them to listen to the entire piece even if they only want to hear a specific part. Additionally, fans would have appreciated behind-the-scenes commentary detailing the history of the iconic character, considering Sonic’s current global popularity following the success of his recent movies.
Hit-and-Miss Gameplay with Some Disappointments
When it comes to gameplay, Sonic Origins Plus is a bit hit-and-miss. Casual fans will find enjoyment in the familiar gameplay mechanics, but hardcore Sonic players may find aspects to nitpick. For example, Amy’s ability to use her Super form and Hyper form, along with her special hammer-throwing abilities in Hyper form, adds an exciting twist. However, most of the core gameplay remains relatively unchanged from the original titles. The Anniversary Mode’s unlimited lives feature, while convenient, does make the game easier, which may detract from the challenge for some players.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to disable the unlimited lives feature without switching to Classic mode, which means sacrificing the improved visuals of Anniversary mode. On the positive side, players have the option to pay in coins to retry bonus sphere levels, which helps alleviate some of the frustration experienced in these challenging levels. However, purists may scorn this feature, as it makes obtaining all the chaos emeralds significantly easier.
Fans who have nostalgic memories of Carnival Night Zone, Ice Cap Zone, and Launch Base Zone may be disappointed to find that the new music tracks in Sonic 3 & Knuckles does not capture the same essence as the original versions. The replacement tracks feel bland in comparison and fail to capture the magic that made these levels so enjoyable. This noticeable difference may leave fans longing for the original soundtracks.
Is Sonic Origins Plus Worth It?
Sonic Origins and its Plus DLC heavily rely on nostalgia to drive its appeal. While the games themselves remain functional and enjoyable, the inclusion of glitches and audio issues is disappointing. Sonic Origins Plus is primarily recommended for die-hard Sonic fans who crave a legal way to play the blue hedgehog’s Game Gear titles on modern devices, without resorting to emulators. However, the collection’s premium price tag may deter more casual fans.
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