Review: Sonic Origins Plus (Switch)

Does the addition of 12 Sonic Game Gear games and Amy Rose make this a better experience than the original?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 08/15/2023 10:22 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
12 Game Gear games provide fun, if uneven, additional content; Amy is creatively and expertly woven into the fabric of all four games; A ton of content to enjoy
Poison Mushroom for...
Game Gear games lack any kind of enhancement and have some audio issues; Despite alleging to be the "origin" of Sonic's 2D days, many classics are conspicuously absent, making the package feel incomplete

When Sonic Origins launched back in 2022 it was met with quite the mixed reaction from fans and critics. On the one hand, it brought four classic Sonic the Hedgehog games to Nintendo Switch in a single package, with stunning new animations incorporated in order to connect the quartet into an overarching narrative. The games were gorgeously presented, available in their original and widescreen aspect ratios and featuring the ability to play with Knuckles and Tails in titles they were previously never playable in. On the other hand, the compilation suffered from a number of oddities. Sonic 3 was missing many iconic music tracks, longtime players detected irregularities in the finer points of character control and movement, and Sonic & Knuckles was nowhere to be found.

Well, SEGA decided to take another swing in the form of Sonic Origins Plus. This beefier version of the game brings Amy to the table as a playable character and introduces the following 12 SEGA Game Gear titles to the collection:

  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Sonic Blast
  • Sonic Chaos
  • Sonic Drift
  • Sonic Drift 2
  • Sonic Labyrinth
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble
  • Tails Adventure
  • Tails’ Skypatrol

Certainly a heaping dose of new content would make the $10 price tag for the Plus expansion a veritable no-brainer, eh? Sadly, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Keep in mind that I don’t score games based on price—the value of a game and the quality of its content aren’t the same thing—but I do want to note that for those who go purchase Sonic Origins Plus, they’re getting all of this DLC (as well as all previous extra content) for the same price that the original game cost at launch ($40 for the cartridge or $10 for the DLC download). Why is SEGA essentially punishing those who came onboard at launch day? It’s a fair questions to ask, but alas we have no answers forthcoming.

Moving on, it’s delightful to see SEGA making all of Sonic’s Game Gear catalogue of software available to fans following the closure of the Nintendo 3DS eShop in March. No subscription fees are needed to play these portable oldies, something that I tip my cap to SEGA for. Yet, while I appreciate the gesture, a gesture is all these games end up feeling like. The care and thought pumped into the four Genesis titles, from widescreen support to the inclusion of new playable characters, is wholly absent from their Game Gear brethren. 12 games is a lot to have to update and tweak, certainly, but what has been provided are tantamount to bare bone ROMs (with some audio issues to boot). Let’s also not ignore that this lot of Sonic titles is a mixed bag in terms of quality. There’s fun to be had, sure, but SEGA really did the minimum with their inclusion.

Amy, however, is a much more substantial and thoughtful addition to the proceedings. She’s a natural fit as a playable character in these games. If SEGA is truly attempting to go the New Super Mario Bros. route with the upcoming Sonic Superstars and its four-player action, the inclusion of Amy here would seem to indicate the direction the company plans to go with her moving forward. Amy’s Piko Piko hammer gives her an offensive edge that sets her apart from Sonic. This mechanic helps to solidify Amy as a legitimately different character to play as versus being a vanilla palette swap. Knuckles, meanwhile, has been added to Sonic CD, providing all four of the Genesis titles with the whole quarter of heroes to enjoy for the first time.

As this collection is wont to do, however, it remains throttled by baffling omissions on the part of SEGA. Where is Sonic & Knuckles? Where is the Genesis version of Sonic Spinball? Where is Sonic 3D Blast? Where is Knuckles Chaotix? If this is indeed Sonic’s “origins” then surely all of his 2D entries of the past should be here. Instead, they remain absent with no sign from SEGA that they’ll ever be added. I can respect that the conversion of the four games here to widescreen was no small feat, but it comes across as disingenuous and even a bit tone deaf to exclude so many obvious Sonic titles in what is meant to be a celebration of the hero’s 16-bit history.

Even with my complaints, there’s no denying that what is present in Sonic Origins Plus is nonetheless worth the time of fans. These four Genesis platformers remain some of the best in the genre after all this time and have never looked better. The various extras in the museum are engrossing and the additions and tweaks that the Plus DLC provide only make the compilation better. Thus, I give Sonic Origins Plus a nod of recommendation, even as I find my teeth grinding as I think of all the wasted opportunity here. Oh, and expect to still download the Plus DLC even if you buy the cartridge version! Yet another oddity among many in this compilation.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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