'Sonic Origins' is not the definitive collection it aims to be, but it's good enough
Back in 1997, Sega released a compilation of the first four Sonic the Hedgehog games, called Sonic Jam. It included videos, art, and music from and about those games, and for decades it was the best compilation of them… and it was stuck on the Sega Saturn. Last week, though, Sega released a new compilation called Sonic Origins, aiming to be the definitive collection of these games.
Here, the games are playable in their original format, or in Anniversary mode, which expands them to fit widescreen TVs, gives you unlimited lives, and the ability to retry the Special Stages.
You can play each game individually, or you can play Story Mode, which lets you play each game consecutively in one go. If you followed along with the background details, there really was a story through-line between these games, and Sonic Origins makes this explicit with new, beautifully animated interstitial cutscenes.
Interestingly, several songs in Sonic 3 are different from you would find in the original — these are the songs that were always rumored to have been written by Michael Jackson and his team. The new songs are serviceable, but losing the originals is a shame.
One of the most fun new additions is a mission mode — quick games, often less than a minute or two, with a set objective like “gather 100 rings without getting hit,” or “destroy 15 robots in less than 3 minutes”.
A Museum is included, too, but it’s a little disappointing — it’s far less extensive than that from Sonic Jam 25 years later, it takes a long time to unlock everything, and most of what you do unlock isn’t particularly interesting.
Sonic Origins isn’t the be-all end-all compilation I wanted, but being able to play through all the Genesis Sonic games in widescreen on modern hardware is good enough for me. Besides, Sonic Jam is still there, sitting in my Saturn.