On the eve of the hedgehog’s 32nd anniversary, SEGA released Sonic Origins Plus, an add-on to the original Sonic Origins.
The update to the classic collection includes Amy Rose as a playable character for the first time, as well as the inclusion of all the Game Gear Sonic titles.
Considering the fact that I wrote a review for Origins last June, it’s only natural to follow up for the release of the DLC.
In my eyes, the biggest selling point of the DLC is Amy’s inclusion. SEGA has been pushing Amy to be part of the core Sonic crew for the past few years, and it seems to be coming full circle with her being playable in Sonic Origins Plus. This serves as a good appetizer for Sonic Superstars later this year, and is a huge win for Amy Rose fans.
She wields the Piko Piko hammer across all four main titles in Origins Plus, and helps take out surrounding enemies in specific situations, although its implementation does feel somewhat uninspired compared to other characters’ abilities.
Amy has a move similar to the Drop Dash, giving her a burst of speed while slamming her hammer. While it might be useful in some cases, it seems situational compared to the normal Drop Dash, Tails’ flight, or Knuckles’ gliding. Tails and Knuckles’ abilities allow them to maneuver in the sky, and even grant them access to special routes in some cases.
Amy’s hammer could’ve offered something similar such as a high jump, similar to what she can do in Sonic Advance. It just seems like a missed opportunity to make her more fun, as well as having a nice nod to the Sonic Advance series.
Also, for the first time in the series, Amy finally has a Super transformation. She’s able to wield the power of the Chaos Emeralds once all are collected. If you were expecting it to be something unique, then unfortunately, that isn’t the case. She glows brightly, similar to Tails and Knuckles.
Seeing as the only characters who have a unique appearances in their Super states are Sonic, Shadow, and Silver, I don’t mind this. If they were to ever give her a unique look for her transformation, I wouldn’t mind that either. However, it remains a dream for many, including myself.
Knuckles the Echidna
Another character is included in the DLC is Knuckles the Echidna. While he is already playable in Sonic 1, 2, and 3K, he’s not playable in Sonic CD, a detail I mentioned back in my review for the original Sonic Origins.
Unfortunately, instead of SEGA including him in the new free update that released alongside the DLC, his inclusion in CD is locked behind the Plus paywall.
This is such a strange decision to make, considering you could already play as him in other games that he wasn’t originally a part of. Seeing that the player needs to pay extra for his inclusion in one game is silly.
Another oddity is the character selection screen for Sonic 2, and it’s not good.
Taking a look at the Advance series again, Sonic Advance 3 had a great system for choosing your combination of player and partner character. How it works is that you first select your playable character, and then select your partner.
Meanwhile, Sonic Origins Plus takes away the freedom of selecting your party and hands you a dinner menu of presets, with each simply being an “and Tails” option.
To that end, one could argue, “why isn’t Sonic & Amy one of the options?”, and et cetera. Personally, I would have loved to do a Sonic & Knuckles duo, or Knuckles & Amy. It illustrates why the Advance 3 system worked so well.
One might think that it’s pedantic, considering Tails is the only character who gives actual assistance in gameplay, but Sonic Mania allowed for any character to have Knuckles as the buddy character, and he is almost purely cosmetic. That concept helped reduce clutter on the character selection screen too.
Game Gear titles
As stated previously, Sonic Origins Plus makes the Game Gear Sonic titles playable on modern day consoles.
On the selection menu, there are descriptions for each game, some of which are a little off in their wording and accuracy.
The descriptions for Sonic the Hedgehog (GG) and Sonic Spinball (GG) state the games are “ports” of their Genesis counterparts, which is demonstrably false. They are entirely new games built from the ground up to be similar to the Genesis versions, which is what they should have called them, rather than “ports”.
Many of us are aware that some of these Game Gear titles are actually ports of SEGA Master System titles, sometimes with notable differences, such as the audio quality and screen resolution.
While I’m not saying that the Master System versions should replace the Game Gear versions, there should be an option to play either, especially since many would argue that these Master System versions are superior. It’s disappointing that fans may be missing out on definitive versions of some of these games.
The physical release
The game has a physical edition as well, and while it’s under the title Sonic Origins Plus, the game that is on the cartridge or disc itself is not Origins Plus, but rather, the original version of the game packed with a download code for the Plus DLC. Not only is this a strange decision, but it’s misleading as well.
For example, imagine you lend the game to your friend. You were supposed to lend them Sonic Origins Plus. Unfortunately, instead of having the game that is named on the box art, they got Sonic Origins.
This would also be a bit of an issue if you were to resell the game or borrow it from a rental service. This wasn’t an issue back when Sonic Mania Plus got a physical release, as the full game was on the disk. They then released a physical edition of just the original Sonic Mania.
Because of this decision with Sonic Origins Plus, I’m no longer inclined to buy the physical edition as much anymore, and I’m opting to buy it later at a discount instead.
Bringing Amy aboard is a milestone for the series and for her as a character as well. Even if her implementation is a bit underwhelming, it’s great to have to ability to play as her.
The addition of Game Gear titles are good as well, as it promotes a chunk of the series’ history that shouldn’t be forgotten. That’s as much as positives go for this DLC though, as there are glaring issues that might have people turn away, or criticize SEGA for mishandling the product.
Knuckles in Sonic CD being part of paid DLC is a greedy move on SEGA’s part. Knuckles is already in the other games initially included in Sonic Origins. He should have either been there on day one or patched in for free.
The missing inclusion of Master System variants of games is a bit disappointing, but isn’t a huge loss on the game’s part. More options are for the betterment of the player, and that goes for the character selection menu for the main games as well. At this point, it’s doubtful that SEGA would be willing to patch the game even further for such a feature. Most of the paid DLC already feels botched.
Moving forward, I hope SEGA is more considerate of the customer when it comes to pricing and what constitutes as a paid DLC, as several decisions made with Sonic Origins and its Plus upgrade feel that they were made with the intention to make as much money as possible, rather that providing a definitive classic Sonic experience for the player.
Tails’ Channel received a press copy on behalf of SEGA of America to facilitate the review, but the author opted for a retail copy on PC at the time of editing.
Select images courtesy of SEGA of America and the Sonic Wiki.