How many times have you bought the original Sonic the Hedgehog? Honestly, for us, it's gotta be getting into double figures by now and we still get fairly excited every single time SEGA drops another re-release - and boy have they dropped their fair share. Yes, even though we've been through all of the games featured in this Sonic Origins collection several times over, we were more than happy to settle in and get to grips with them all once again. They're just that darn good.
In terms of what you've got here, well, this is pretty much the cream of the crop of the little blue ball's speedy adventures as far as we're concerned. The original Sonic the Hedgehog is a bonafide classic that needs no introduction at this stage, Sonic 2 improves upon the original formula by adding Tails to the mix alongside some superior level design, Sonic 3 & Knuckles might actually be our favourite of the lot with its improved boss encounters and power-ups and Sonic CD is an off-kilter, time-travelling delight. Throw in a cool mission mode that sees you take on classic levels with various modifications, and there's no doubt that this is a release that's got it where it counts.
Of course, Sonic Origins isn't just serving you up tired emulated versions of these old games either, no siree, each and every title here has been rebuilt in the Retro Engine, there's brand new animated sequences to introduce each one, and you can now play them all in a special "Anniversary Mode" which gives you a 16:9 aspect ratio as well as replacing the original lives system with unlimited respawns, a drop-dash nicked from Sonic Mania and a new coin currency to be collected in order to unlock all manner of extras in the game's museum. On top of this you also get to select whether you want to play as Sonic, Knuckles or Tails in each adventure - except for Sonic CD. Sweet!
If you want to play the games the old-fashioned way you can do that too by choosing to run in Classic mode, and you've also got a Story mode which sees the entire collection play out as one solidified experience and a Boss Rush mode that faces you off against a barrage of big bad enemies with just a handful of lives to make do with. Oh, and there's even a Mirror mode thrown in for good measure because everyone loves to play things backwards, don't they?
All in all it's a straightforward and super solid collection then, four seminal Sonic games presented in some style with a bunch of bonus goodies for you to dig into. So why the score at the bottom of this review? Well, when we're forking out a premium price for a handful of old games that we've played to death, we already feel as though we're being slightly overcharged, but SEGA has decided to add insult to injury here by gating off a handful of extras in the form of paid DLC and, honestly, it just kinda sucks and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. When it really comes down to it this is an overpriced bunch of very old games, so to be pressed into shelling out an extra fiver for a few more bits and pieces? Give us a break, SEGA.
On top of this, even though all of the titles here are very well presented - and ignoring the change of music in Sonic 3 - they bizarrely lack simple things like a save state/reload function, just basic stuff that emulated editions of these games have had for aeons. There's no CRT filters either for some reason, and you can unlock a bunch of music to savour in the game's museum but you can't listen to any of it as you actually play through the games themselves. It's just stuff that should really be thrown in here considering the price point, little extras to make us feel like they cared when they were slapping this collection together and, when added to the fact you're being charged extra for a bunch of wallpapers, some more music and a couple of extra animations, well, it doesn't end up sitting very well.
If you can make peace with a few missing options and don't mind the paid DLC aspect you'll still have a great time here, and if you're coming to these games fresh you're in for an almighty treat, it's just a shame that SEGA has chosen to sully the endeavour with unnecessary greed and a few glaring functional omissions that could so easily have been included. So there you have it, Sonic Origins has got it where it counts but a little more TLC would have seen our score bumped up by a few points. Maybe next time, SEGA.