Sonic Origins Plus review Game Gear Sonic the Hedgehog PS5 PlayStation 5

Sonic Origins Plus Review: The Cherry on Top of an Already Great Collection

As I explained in my review last year, when Sonic Origins launched back in June 2022, it won me over in a way I was not expecting. The game has a huge Museum of content to unlock simply by playing, as well as dozens of bite-sized and surprisingly fun “Missions.” This was all in addition to the games themselves that had been fully rebuilt for 16:9 aspect ratio (or classic 4:3 too, if you prefer), including Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles with playable Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles for most games. Paired with some quality-of-life options to make the difficulty more manageable, Sonic Origins was just a great time, on PlayStation 5 at least. If we fast-forward to today, the lingering bugs have been ironed out, and the game has received an upgrade in the form of Sonic Origins Plus, which adds playable Amy Rose in all games, Knuckles in Sonic CD, and 12 emulated Game Gear games. To offer a quick review, Sonic Origins Plus is a nice cherry on top of the original experience.

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A Great Collection Gets a Little Greater

Everything I said in my original review remains true, except that, as mentioned, the technical kinks have largely been ironed out (on PlayStation, at least). So I’ll just focus briefly on the new things. Firstly, Amy Rose is a perfectly adequate, if perfectly forgettable addition to the game roster. As far as I can tell, her only notable gameplay feature is that you can a press a button to make her swing her hammer around herself during jumps, adding a bit of extra range that makes it easier to hit enemies. The tradeoff is that I couldn’t seem to activate special abilities like the “fire dash” associated with the fire power-up in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 anymore, because the input that would normally activate those things was instead dedicated to Amy’s hammer. So, as one would expect, Amy isn’t better. She’s just different. She’s a new option you can take or leave.

Sonic Origins Plus review Amy Rose PS5 PlayStation 5

I unfortunately didn’t have time to fully explore the new inclusion of Knuckles in Sonic CD. Sega says it has added “new level paths” to accommodate his gliding abilities, which is certainly welcome in theory, as there were some parts of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that actually didn’t play well with Knuckles’ gliding and shorter jumps. Although, Sonic CD is a pretty frenetically designed game in the first place (which I mean as a compliment, actually), and even if I did have the time to play as much of Sonic CD with Knuckles as I wish I did, I would honestly be surprised if I even noticed all the differences. Level design madness is just part of the bag with Sonic CD.

Finally, there are the 12 Game Gear games in Sonic Origins Plus, which are emulated and presented in their original aspect ratio as opposed to being totally rebuilt like the other games in the collection. These games include Tails’ Skypatrol, Tails Adventure, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Triple Trouble, Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Sonic Blast, Sonic Drift, Sonic Drift 2, Sonic Labyrinth, and Sonic Chaos. As one would expect, these games vacillate wildly in quality, but you can save anywhere (in one slot per game), which defangs the difficulty if you have the patience to keep trying.

Sonic the Hedgehog is alright, while the controls in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are such a mess that beating the first boss, which is fought on an incline, becomes a Herculean (Sisyphean?) task. I don’t remember the controls being that bad as a kid, but maybe they were? Likewise, Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine just feel like better-than-nothing alternatives to the superior Genesis versions you can play elsewhere. Sonic Labyrinth has a Sonic 3D Blast-like perspective but with more arcade-like gameplay, and it isn’t likely to hold your attention very long. Ironically, the game actually named Sonic Blast is a typical sidescroller, but with a huge prerendered sprite for your character that looks nice but takes up a big chunk of the screen real estate, making it pretty impractical.

Sonic Origins Plus review Game Gear Sonic the Hedgehog PS5 PlayStation 5

At any time, you can look up the basic controls for any of these games while playing Sonic Origins Plus, but what it won’t do is explain what exactly it is you’re supposed to do in some of the more obscure games. Tails’ Skypatrol is an autoscroller that I had a hard time making heads or tails of, (No, I swear that wasn’t supposed to be a pun.) and Tails Adventure seems oddly fascinating, in that it’s a methodical adventure game with discrete levels, collectible items, not much running, and a save option. The latter is a game deserving of more attention, probably.

Meanwhile, Sonic Drift and Sonic Drift 2 are both racing games in a vaguely SNES Mario Kart manner, and each one is actually kind of fun in an extremely simplistic way, particularly the latter. And finally, there are Sonic Triple Trouble and Sonic Chaos, sidescrollers made for Game Gear that hold up quite well. I played more Sonic Triple Trouble than anything else, and this is a genuinely worthwhile Sonic experience that fans will hopefully appreciate beyond just being a Game Gear novelty.

In general, I thought the Game Gear emulation was perfectly acceptable, except that Mean Bean Machine really seemed to chug, which might have been the case on the original hardware too. There isn’t much reason to play that game here in the first place though.

Sonic Origins Plus review Game Gear Sonic Triple Trouble PS5 PlayStation 5

The Review Verdict on Sonic Origins Plus

Sonic Origins was great, and Sonic Origins Plus is great plus. It’s that simple. It’s a fun collection made a little more fun with the adequate addition of Amy Rose, Knuckles in Sonic CD, and a dozen emulated Game Gear games. Some of those Game Gear games I dare say are even still worth playing today, especially Sonic Triple Trouble. Sonic Origins Plus also adds in the Classic Music Pack and Premium Fun Pack add-on content that was made available for the original release. So if you want to play most of the classic Sonic games ever made in one place, you might as well pick this up and have a fun time.

Release Date: June 23, 2023
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega, Headcannon (support)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PC

A PlayStation review code for Sonic Origins Plus was provided by the publisher.


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Author
John Friscia
Former Managing Editor at The Escapist. I have been writing about video games since 2018 and editing writing on IT, project management, and video games for around a decade. I have an English degree, but Google was a more valuable learning resource. I taught English in South Korea for a year in 2018, and it was exponentially more fun than living in Pennsylvania. My major passions in life are SNES, Japanese RPGs, Berserk, and K-pop. I'm currently developing the game Boss Saga with my brother, which is guaranteed to change your life and you should buy it.