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Sonic Origins Plus Impressions: Pico Pico Retro

Amy Rose is playable in Sonic 1, 2, 3, and CD, and 12 Game Gear games join the collection, but is Sonic Origins Plus worth the return trip?

Image via Sega

I think it’s safe to say the Sonic faithful is deeply divided on Sonic Origins. The game is a decent enough collection of classic Sonic games, but there’s been controversy about all sorts of aspects of the game, including paywalling certain features, dispute about the games’ physics and character movesets, and what’s included for the cost. Nonetheless, Sonic Origins still remains playable and it’s still a decent collection of Sega nostalgia. The Sonic Origins Plus DLC aims to bring even more fun to the pack, making Amy Rose playable across all the core games, adding 12 Game Gear games, and implementing even more improvements. If you had issues with the base package, I don’t think Sonic Origins Plus will move the needle for you, but otherwise it’s mostly more of a good thing.

Classic adventures with new heroes

The core addition to Sonic Origins Plus is that you can play as Amy Rose in any of the main games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. It’s more than just a palette swap, Amy has her own unique bit of moves and abilities she can use to traverse stages. Where Sonic can spin dash in the air off of a jump to do his Drop Dash, the same action with Amy will make her spin in the air with her Pico Pico Hammer, and if you hold the button when she lands, she’ll sprint forward, swinging the hammer in an arc. It’s good for mashing enemies into paste while moving forward rapidly. She gets some other neat abilities too depending on the game and while she’s not enormously different, she does enough to stand out and be fun.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles Amy Gameplay from Sonic Origins Plus
Source: Sega

It’s also neat that with Amy included, you can use different combinations in the games. In Sonic 2 for instance, you can now play Sonic, Tails, Sonic and Tails, Knuckles, Amy solo, or Amy with Tails. Same for Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Moreover, they made it so you can also play Knuckles in Sonic CD, and they even rearranged the stages just a bit to fit Knuckles’ ability to glide through the air and climb walls. Being able to play all four characters in different compositions across all four games in Sonic Origins Plus makes for a good time if you didn’t mind how the original package was playing already.

Game Gear games without battery drain

Amy and the other adjustments to the core games aren’t the only new things in Sonic Origins Plus. Sega also packed a full library of Sonic-related Game Gear games into the package. You can access them at pretty much anytime, and when you’re playing them, you can even create save states as you play in case you want to cheese your way to victory a little bit. After all, some of the games are tough or underexplained in-game.

With games like Tails’ Skypatrol never having come to the United States and only available officially for the first time via this package, there’s not a lot of material you can easily look up on how to play it. It was a real trial-by-fire for me the first few times. That said, once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed that one. Many of the spinoff games in this collection are really fun. I like the Game Gear versions of the console games less because they feel like downgrades that don’t add anything new. The spinoffs are a good time, though. Despite Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine having come out on consoles as well, it’s quite fun and challenging in its Game Gear form.

Sonic Origins Plus Tails' Skypatrol gameplay
Source: Sega

I wish I could say I enjoyed anything about the sound though. Because they come from a platform with low quality sound in the first place, you’ll be assaulted with bit-crushed screeches, pings, explosions, and more. That said, it’s more than just old handheld sound design. Something feels amiss when it comes to the Game Gear games, like they are mixed differently from the rest of the game. They are louder in many cases and often disturbingly so to the point where I had to lower the volume notably to deal with it. I’m sure some will feel nostalgia for these sounds, but I challenge your rose-tinted glasses to remain unshattered if you leave the volume up.

Amy Rose-tinted nostalgia

Sonic Origins Plus Sonic CD Amy gameplay
Source: Sega

As a Genesis kid who grew up playing the Sonic the Hedgehog games, I actually wasn’t all that interested in going back to them in the original Sonic Origins. I had already played them plenty. Sonic Origins Plus is more my jam because it adds quite a few things I hadn’t had in the early series. The Game Gear games are a nice touch, despite their horrid noise, and playing as Amy in Sonic 1 just as easily as in Sonic 3 & Knuckles is cool to me. Moreover, it didn’t play substantially off from what I remember to have ever marred my experience. I do believe that other players just looking to go down memory lane with a fresh coat of paint will feel the same. Sonic Origins Plus doesn’t really reinvent the original Blue Blur. Instead, it gives you an interesting opportunity enjoy it as his pink counterpart. Add 12 other games, many of which are enjoyable, to that and Sonic Origins Plus makes for a nice add-on to the original collection.

These impressions are based on a PS5 digital copy supplied by the publisher. Sonic Origins Plus launches on June 23, 2023, and will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 21, 2023 6:00 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Sonic Origins Plus Impressions: Pico Pico Retro

    • reply
      June 21, 2023 7:19 AM

      I really enjoyed Origins, I finally finished Sonic 3 and Knuckles as well as Sonic CD that way. Zero interest in an emulator for a fewGame Gear games and a playable Amy though.

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