It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a proper Sonic compilation game, and with the recently announced Sonic Origins on the horizon, a couple TSS Staffers got together to share our hopes and expectations.
One of the coolest things Sonic Mania did was re-introduce the once forgotten Mighty and Ray from SEGASonic Arcade and Knuckles Chaotix; since we have a Classic-friendly moveset to work with, it should be pretty straightforward to implement these guys! But don’t stop there, it’s also high time that Amy Rose returned to the roster as a playable hero. She could either control the way she did in Sonic Advance (there’s no shortage of rom-hacks of the Classics that show this is possible) or create an all-new one-button moveset for the pink rascal. Maybe Espio and Vector could return as well?
But another way to mix things up is to add a few new modes! Sonic Origins really ought to have some fun (and tough) missions and challenges for the seasoned fans who’ve played these games hundreds of times. I’m talking the return of Mania Plus’ Encore Mode, hard modes, Boss Rush, level mash-ups and whatever other wacky ideas the team behind this compilation has in store! Imagine the possibilities!
It’s hard for me to complain much about Origins. Quite frankly, in spite of many of these games getting rereleased so often, a console version of the Retro Engine android games has been my white whale for years. Yes, there are workarounds to play those classic games in 4K and/or HD and widescreen, but I see a lot of value in just having it without the workaround on my Switch. If these are indeed all going to be Taxman “ports” as we’ve collectively inferred from the trailer, that’s already 80% of what I want out of it. They’re really, really good versions that have most of what I want: Tails and Knuckles outside of their original games, Sonic 3K items, a save system, time attack, boss rush, reconstructed Hidden Palace, Super Sonic in Sonic 1. It’s always felt like an absolute shame that those games were relegated to phones exclusively.
That said, there is one feature I’d very much like out of the experience: a marathon mode, and/or an Encore mode. One reason why we as a community refer to the fourth and fifth core games in the series as “Sonic 3 & Knuckles” almost exclusively is because of the staggering scope of playing both Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles stitched together from end to end. To link five full Sonic games into one massive experience (or even just four full Sonic games with CD sitting off to the side), I probably wouldn’t have any reason to play any other format of classic Sonic again!
Similarly, Sonic Mania Plus’s Encore mode remains one of my favorite ways to play Sonic games to this day. Even ignoring the altered aesthetics and rebalancing, Encore’s party mechanic that lets you keep other characters in stock and swappable instead of traditional lives adds a needed variety to playthroughs, encouraging you swap to someone better suited to handle different situations. Heck, it even helps keep pace too, since death in a level just queues up your next party member instead of throwing you back to the checkpoint. Bringing that structure backwards to other games would give the quintology just enough remix to help it feel fresh without straying too far from its core identity. (I suppose you’d have to modify some cutscenes and structure in 3K though in order to have it make sense.)
If you really twist my arm, randomizers. But I know when to fold.
One of the best things about Sonic Origins, in my view, is that it will be making Sonic 3 & Knuckles available on modern platforms outside of Steam for the first time in roughly a decade. But why stop there? There are loads of Sonic games that have only seen limited re-releases or have been completely out of circulation for decades, which would be a great fit for a collection like this.
I would like to see Sonic Origins include other games from Sonic’s pre-green eyes days. Specifically, I’d love to Sonic’s other Genesis releases, the Game Gear games, and Knuckles Chaotix included in this collection. Not as main attractions with widescreen, of course, but as simple, emulated unlockables. Previous Sonic compilations, such as Mega Collection and Gems Collection, included more obscure games as unlockables that rewarded playing the compilation’s core games. They could be included in this collection in a similar manner.
I’d also love to see Origins include a feature I first came across in Halo The Master Chief Collection: level playlists. Origins is the perfect opportunity to allow players to choose how they experience these level in unique ways. They could group levels by a variety of factors, from their environments, to their place in their respective games, to the kinds of enemies they have, and so on. On top of that, players could also put together their own playlists. Heck, maybe players could even construct their own boss rush playlists! Naturally, some sort of randomizer would also be cool, although those do already exist via fan mods.
Sonic Origins presents a rare opportunity for SEGA to recontextualize the classic Sonic experience in some fun and interesting ways, and to make some of the blue blur’s more obscure titles available again. I hope they take advantage of that.