Review – Sonic Origins

Look, I get it: with how pristine Sonic Mania ended up being, it’s pretty obvious that Sega themselves don’t want to make a brand new 2D Sonic game by themselves. Let Christian Whitehead do his thing and release it whenever he feels like. The only way they can still capitalize on the old (aka, good) Sonic formula is by re-releasing the Mega Drive and Sega CD games over and over again. We all laughed at Sonic Origins when it was first released, all due to its terrible tier system and DLC packs. But the compilation itself wasn’t being talked about that much. Sonic Origins has enough redeeming qualities to justify its existence. It’s more than a mere compilation of old ROMs. This is no Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Let’s give it a look.

Sonic Origins Spin Dash

Spin dashing in the first Sonic is a game changer.

At its core, Sonic Origins is yet another collection comprised of the Mega Drive-era games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 (and Knuckles), and Sonic CD. We’ve all played them countless times over the past thirty years. But this is not a mere collection like that one Mega Drive compilation released for modern platforms a few years ago. All four (or five, I never know with Sonic & Knuckles) games have been ported to a brand new engine, the Retro Engine, which I assume it’s the same one that powers Sonic Mania. As a result, all games now run at a 16:9 aspect ratio (though you can toggle between screen ratios), and new elements have been added to those games to make them stand out.

For instance, spin dashing is now possible in the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. That feature had only been available in Sonic Jam, a really good collection of older Sonic games originally released for the Sega Saturn before this one. You can also do the drop dash from Mania in all games. Finally, the main kicker is being able to play as Tails and Knuckles in any game of the collection (Knuckles just can’t be used in Sonic CD due to that game’s overall design nature). I’m not gonna lie, playing as Knuckles in a game like the original Sonic the Hedgehog pretty much breaks the game, making things exponentially easier, but the sole fact that this is now possible in an official Sega release is worth celebrating. It’s a fun new way to experience these classic titles.

Sonic Origins Cutscenes

A few brand new cutscenes whenever you start a new game. They are totes adorbs.

There are some new modes as well. The Anniversary mode ditches the classic life system and includes the aforementioned “play with whoever you want” feature. It also includes coins, which are given out to the player at the end of each level, depending on how you play it. These coins are used to unlock neat bonuses, such as concept art and footage from an orchestra playing the Sonic soundtrack. They can also be used to give you an extra chance in bonus rounds, such as the utter nuisance of trying to grab a Chaos Emerald in the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. Non-intrusive, and far from game-breaking. I expected worse from these coins, given how Sega is sadly selling them in premium packs.

Sonic Origins did not need to have DLC. It is ridiculous. Sure, they aren’t huge gameplay features, being solely a bunch of extra coins, additional soundtrack tunes, and an extra mode, but this is a retro compilation of games that had been re-released a bagillion times over the years. I am not going to ignore how ridiculous Sega’s decision was. It makes even less sense because, as a whole, Sonic Origins is filled with content. It has enough elements to stand out on its own. You can absolutely ignore the compilation’s premium packs and enjoy these older titles with the most basic of versions available in any gaming storefront.

Sonic CD Bonus

The Sonic CD bonus levels still hold up, somehow. Can’t say the same about the original Sonic bonus levels.

Being a remaster running on the same engine that powered the gorgeous Sonic Mania, I expected for Sonic Origins to look and run as sexy as its predecessor. The thing is, Mania had the advantage of featuring completely redrawn assets, something that couldn’t be done in Origins. All games look great on 16:9, but they look a bit stretched. There aren’t enough anti-aliasing or filtering options to make these games more appealing. There’s also the fact that, despite playing like a dream, Sonic Origins is hindered by the DualSense’s less-than-ideal d-pad. Stick to the analog stick, and you’re set.

Sound-wise, Sonic Origins is blessed with the fact that it’s a compilation of Mega Drive-era Sonic games, as well as Sonic CD. Those games feature some of the best soundtracks of all time, even though Sonic 3 doesn’t feature its complete soundtrack. The reason is obvious: Michael Jackson was involved in that soundtrack, and re-releasing a game with his songs would require paying royalties to the late musician’s famously complicated estate. There are some audio glitches here and there as well, but nothing too egregious.


Playing as Knuckles in the first few Sonic games kinda breaks them, but that’s still tons of fun.

When Sonic Origins was first announced, I honestly thought it was going to be the single most pointless re-release in the history of pointless Sega re-releases. Even though its dumb DLC packs are absurd, the compilation itself is excellent. This is the single best way to play all of the Mega Drive-era Sonic games with tons of extra features and quality of life improvements. It basically justifies its existence as something more than a mere cash grab to celebrate the franchise’s (belated) 30th anniversary. If you’re a fan or just a retro enthusiast, don’t think twice: Sonic Origins is worth your time. Just stick to the vanilla version, as its DLC ain’t worth your money.


Graphics: 7.0

Playing OG Sonic on a 16:9 aspect ratio feels surreal, but I wish the compilation had featured more display options to smooth out the stretched pixels.

Gameplay: 9.0

It’s classic Sonic. It’s really easy to play, and very intuitive. The PS5’s controller doesn’t feature the best of d-pads for a game like this, but it still gets the job done.

Sound: 8.0

There are some audio glitches, and some missing tracks in Sonic 3. The rest of the compilation retains the classic soundtracks we all grew up loving.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The brand new gameplay options and additional modes included in Sonic Origins pretty much justify its existence as something other than yet another compilation of older Sonic games released for modern platforms. With that said, the fact it has DLC is shady at best.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Sonic Origins is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Sonic Origins was provided by the publisher.