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Exclusive: Sonic Origins Review: This Collection of Classic Games Put Me in a Better Mood – CNET

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Sonic Origins Review: This Collection of Classic Games Put Me in a Better Mood     - CNET

#Sonic #Origins #Review #Collection #Classic #Games #Put #Mood #CNET

After three decades of playing Sonic the Hedgehog games, I really should be immune to the speedy blue Sega hero’s charms. Sonic Origins proved me wrong. Slightly irritable after a busy day, I loaded up this collection of classic ’90s platforming games on my PS5 and all the tension just melted away as soon as I heard that iconic title music.

Sonic Origins, which hit PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on Thursday, includes the original Sonic, Sonic CD, Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It also costs $40, which is a bit pricey for four retro games that have been released countless times over the years. 

However, it’s beautifully presented, with plenty of twists and modern additions to spice up these old games and offer new ways to experience them. I spent most of my time playing in the Anniversary Mode, which gives you slightly enhanced visuals, full screen display and infinite lives, because it’s new for this collection and I have no patience for game-over screens any more. I saw enough of those as a kid, thanks.

For the purists, Classic Mode lets you play with retro visuals, a 4:3 aspect ratio (with bars on the sides of the screen) and limited lives. I’m glad it’s possible to recreate the old style of play, but it hardly feels like the ideal way to experience these games in 2022.

Diving into the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which first came out Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive, as most regions outside the US knew it) in 1991, was as fun as it has been the last 31 years. There’s a satisfying sense of speed as you zip through the more open levels, while the more labyrinthine ones are fun to explore.

Tails in Sonic 1 in Sonic Origins

Playing as Tails in the original Sonic is one of the fun elements of Sonic Origins.


Sega

It’s also harder than I remember — the chase sequence Labyrinth Zone Act 3 took me far too many attempts to get through (infinite lives, phew). Hearing Starlight Zone’s absolute belter of a theme made it all worthwhile though.

The first game feels relatively simple compared with its more sophisticated sequels but remains an essential piece of gaming canon everyone should play at least once. This is also the console version where you can play as Tails and Knuckles (who were added in a 2013 remaster on iOS and Android), which lets you explore the levels in whole new ways with their flying, gliding and climbing abilities.

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Sonic CD is likely the game that the fewest people have played since you needed the expensive Sega CD Genesis add-on to do so back in 1993. I’d never completed it before because the level design always felt like a step down from the Genesis games and I struggled to wrap my head around the time travel mechanic. (I just wanted to go fast!)

Sonic CD in Sonic Origins

Sonic CD is the quirkiest game in the collection.


Sega

It has incredible music and animation though — the super cool anime-style cut scenes are included in all their glory. Good luck getting the theme song, Sonic Boom, out of your head too. Having finally completed it in this collection, it’s certainly a game I’ve come to appreciate and look forward to exploring more, especially completing it lets you play through again as Tails. (Knuckles isn’t playable in Sonic CD, unfortunately.)

Sonic 2 is my sentimental favorite, having spent countless hours on it since it came to Genesis in 1992. This game is the perfect sequel, adding layers of sophistication through more colorful levels — Chemical Plant and Casino Night Zones are a particular favorites — whose more open design lets Sonic, Tails or Knuckles rip through. I encountered one glitch where Tails (as the computer-controlled secondary character) got caught on some scenery and kept trying to jump out, resulting an irritating bouncing sound until I finished the level. Not game-breaking, but still annoying.

Sonic 2 plane (with Tails) against a blue sky with birds following

Sonic and Tails take to the sky in Sonic 2, an image you might have seen in the 2022 movie sequel.


Sega

The final boss (a design the second movie mirrored closely earlier this year) is much easier than I realized as a kid, but it still took me a whole bunch of attempts and several increasingly irate rants to my partner about invincibility frames before I beat him. I loved every second of replaying this incredible game.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles — presented for the first time in widescreen in this collection — is kinda two games in one, since it fuses Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. They were originally intended to be one game, but Sega opted to release them separately in 1994 due to time constraints and cartridge size limitations (and presumably the opportunity to make a boatload more money).

Robotnik's flying machine explodes after being defeated in Sonic 3 and Knuckles

Sonic 3 and Knuckles has the collection’s most satisfying boss fights.


Sega

This game oozes confidence from the opening moments to the epic finale; stunning character animations — seeing Sonic snowboard at the start of Ice Cap Zone is still awesome — more levels than any of the others, compelling transitions between stages, loads of memorable bosses and moments of intense speed. Some of the music has been altered for this release due to the late Michael Jackson’s oft-reported involvement with the original soundtrack, but it didn’t take too much away from the experience for me.

I’m not as nostalgic about this game as I am the second one, but playing one after another highlights Sonic 3 & Knuckles’ superiority. Choosing Knuckles offers a significantly different experience to doing so as Sonic or Tails too, encouraging multiple play-throughs.

There’s plenty of additional replay value in this collection too. Once you complete each game, you can access a mirror mode that lets you go through each level from right to left (which feels a bit wrong initially), a boss rush mode that lets you challenge all the big baddies in succession, and smaller missions that task you with beating a certain number of enemies or getting through a challenging obstacle course.

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Sonic Origins missions

The missions offer new challenges to Sonic veterans.


Sega

You can also play through all four games in a seamless story mode, linked by beautiful animated cut scenes created for Sonic Origins. Across every mode, you collect coins that let you unlock music and art in the in-game museum — this element of the game feels a bit light, given Sonic’s 31-year-old history — or retry each game’s special stages if you’re trying to collect all the Chaos Emeralds (which you need to get the true endings).

A hard mode, extra music tracks and some aesthetic menu options are exclusive to a $45 digital deluxe edition, but they weren’t available during the review period. This article will be updated once I’ve had a chance to check out those features, but the game didn’t feel incomplete without them.

Knuckles battles Robotnik with a pipe organ in the background in Sonic Origins

This collection’s version of Sonic 2 includes the Hidden Palace Zone, which wasn’t available in the original version.


Sega

Regardless of which edition you want, $40 is still a lot to ask for decades-old games — Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscribers can play a no-frills version of Sonic 2 at no extra cost right now. You could also play Sonic Mania, which paid glorious homage to all four of these games in 2017.

Despite the high price, the Genesis Sonic games are some of the best platformers ever made, and Sonic Origins presents them in the most visually stunning compilation yet. If you’re looking to revisit classic 2D Sonic games or want to introduce them to a new generation of players who’ve discovered Sonic through the recent movies, this collection is the slickest, most accessible way to experience them. And it still puts me in a better mood whenever I load it up.


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Exclusive: Apple in July: M2 MacBook Air, iOS 16 public beta, and much more – TalkOfNews.com

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Exclusive: London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures (Megha Paul/Tech.eu) – TalkOfNews.com

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London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures (Megha Paul/Tech.eu)

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Megha Paul / Tech.eu:

London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures  —  UK-based platform enables digital ordering in restaurants and more efficient kitchen and delivery operations through its software


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Exclusive: Tell Us About Your Pop Culture Month: June 2022 Edition – TalkOfNews.com

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Tell Us About Your Pop Culture Month: June 2022 Edition

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The main characters of Voltron: Legendary Defender.

Image: Netflix/Dreamworks Animation

*cracks knuckles*

Watched: Oh boy, I went through a bit of a tear with TV this month. Along with being taken in by Ms. Marvel and slowly catching up on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the biggest thing I watched, TV show wise, was Barry. After hearing so much about it on Twitter over the course of several weekends, I finally took the plunge and really enjoyed that first season. It’s incredibly breezy as hell, and really easy to just binge three or four episodes before walking away to let everything settle. I like how constantly out of his depth Barry is while simultaneously being the most dangerous person in every scene he inhabits; I like his weird, brief hypotheticals of the future he could have if he successfully gets out of The Life. I’ve stepped away from it for a few days, but am prepared to get into the next two seasons and then eagerly consume season four whenever that hits up in 2023.

Towards the end of the month, I got hit with a case of the rewatch and decided to turn my eye back to Voltron: Legendary Defender over on Netflix. And you know what, those first three seasons are about as strong as I remember them being. I respect a show that’s extremely committed to its own bullshit, in this case a guerrilla army of alien cat ninjas with transforming swords. In its best moments, that Legendary Defender managed to make its universe feel like a big, space opera romp while maintaining a tight focus. I remember some of this show’s future plot points, and remember being just passively mixed on the ending, so we’ll see how that goes as I continue down mecha-memory lane.

Barry: Season 1 – ‘It’s A Job’ | Official Trailer | HBO

Movie wise, there was Lightyear and Jurassic World Dominion. Lightyear was Fine, but ultimately doesn’t have anything going for it beyond Chris Evans having a surprisingly solid voice that would probably be good for Star Trek sometime in the near future, if he’s in the mood to do franchises again. As for Dominion…well, beyond just not giving nearly enough time to Omar Sy as a spy trying to take down a dinosaur smuggling ring, the biggest sin of the entire thing is that it’s just really dull. The first two World movies had a noticeable, joyous—and at times, controversial—bloodlust and meanness about them that Dominion very much lacks. If this is the last one, I can’t say that I brought flowers with me to the service.

Played: It finally happened. After shelling out for a wireless controller, last week I finally beat Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I grinded some shrines, got enough hearts to pull out the Master Sword, and finally took Calamity Ganon down. I can’t tell you how I actually feel about the game because I’ve been playing it off and on for years—when I booted up my save last week, it said that last I played the game was in March of 2021—but what I remember of the game eventually grew on me, though not to beloved acclaim as anyone else.

Breath of the Wild may be a game that I restart and play properly instead of just playing once every couple of months, but that’ll come after I knock out some more 2022 games. I told myself earlier in the year that I’d play Stranger of Paradise over the summer, and it is indeed a perfect summer game in that it’s a good way to get out of the sun and just turn some podcasts on. Couldn’t tell you a lick about what the game’s plot is—not a real Final Fantasy player, though I do understand that this is intended to be a prequel of sorts to the original Final Fantasy—but the gameplay is satisfying enough that I don’t really care. It’s a fun throwback to those old PS3/360 co-op games you’d play on the couch with your childhood friend, and I just love how completely frickin’ stupid it is. I may end up paying for that DLC if I finish the base campaign proper in time.

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Very briefly, I also played some Citizen Sleeper, a narrative cyberpunk RPG inspired by tabletop games about you, a humanoid machine dubbed a “Sleeper,” having to work inside a space station while figuring out how to stay alive. A limited set of dice dictates what all you can do in any day, and as you become more embroiled in the lives of the station’s inhabitants, it can be stressful trying to figure out how to balance it all. But it’s the fun kind of stressful, one where the vibes are always easy going thanks to some moody music and a casts of characters who are light and friendly while no doubt having a darker edge to them. There’s just something absorbing about Citizen Sleeper right from the start, and I think that if you’ve got a PC that can run it—or Xbox Game Pass—you should play it if you’ve got yourself a love for the sci-fi.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge – Reveal trailer

Finally, there was Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a retro throwback to the 80s days of the TMNT. Beyond mashing the buttons of the arcade machine at my local Dairy Queen back in the day, I’ve never played a TMNT beat-’em-up before, but Shredder’s Revenge manages to feel like a fun nostalgia trip nonetheless. For me, the biggest issue is that the game feels too chaotic for its own good; in single player, some levels feel deliberately mean, like the early missions on the hoverboard. And in co-op, it quickly gets to be a mess if you’ve got more than three players. There’s fun to be had here, certainly, but the game having six-player co-op feel a bit misguided when even four players could become real unwieldy really fast.

But enough from me, go ahead and spill what all you did for the month of June in the comments below.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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