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Earlier this week, Sega announced Sonic Origins, a new retro compilation that will include Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. I’m always down for a nice collection, but it does feel like this package could be even more exciting.
Back in the ’90s, Sega released a lot of Sonic games. Sure, not all of them are as great as Sonic 2 or Sonic CD, but a lot of them are still fun and interesting. And I’m just enough of a Sonic nut to know which games should have also been included.
Below, I’ve listed five games that I think would have been fun additions to Sonic Origins.
Sonic 3D Blast
Poor Sonic 3D Blast has an unfair reputation. People are quick to lump it in with the bad Sonic games, but this 1996 isometric Genesis title is alright with me. While the controls can be a bit slippery, and the nonlinear objectives can require some annoying backtracking, this still feels like a classic Sonic experience. It also has one of the console’s best soundtracks.
The original game’s lead programmer, Jon Burton, actually fixed a lot of the original game’s issues in an unofficial director’s cut that you can download as a ROM. Sega should reach out to Burton and give this improved version of Sonic 3D Blast an official release.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Master System)
Most of us in the U.S. never had a Master System, the Genesis’s 8-bit predecessor, but the machine was quite popular in Europe and Brazil. So when Sonic became a hit, Sega developed 8-bit takes on the franchise for the older machine.
Now, you may have played this version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on your Game Gear, but the Master System version features a wider resolution. Honestly, I’d love to see Sega create a giant Master System collection for modern consoles, but even just a sampling of the Blue Blur’s 8-bit adventures would have been nice for Sonic Origins.
Sonic Spinball is one of the franchise’s first spinoffs, which alone makes it interesting enough for inclusion in Sonic Origins. No, it’s not as good as the core Genesis Sonic games. It’s also not close to being one of the best video game pinball experiences (this is no Demon’s Crush or Kirby’s Pinball).
But there is a charm to Sonic Spinball. I like its somewhat grungy aesthetic, and it’s also the only Sonic game I can remember to include characters introduced in the Saturday morning Sonic cartoon and the Archie Comics series, like Princess Sally Acorn.
SegaSonic the Hedgehog
SegaSonic the Hedgehog is a Sonic game that I’ve been dying to try forever. It’s an arcade title from 1993 that never left Japan. It features three player co-op, with one person controlling Sonic while the others helm Mighty the Armadillo or Ray the Flying Squirrel. Oh, and you control these characters with trackballs.
Just look at the above gameplay. This game is wild. I keep wishing that Sega will find a way to finally give this oddity a release on consoles.
It’s great that we’re getting Sonic CD, but it’s a shame that Sega is leaving out the franchise’s 32X installment. Knuckles Chaotix is a bit weird. You control two characters at a time, and they’re linked together with a sort of magic chain that you can use to bend and slingshot your way through levels. It can be a bit clunky, but it’s still fun and plays a lot like the other 2D Sonic games.
Of course, Sonic isn’t actually in it, which may be a problem for a compilation called Sonic Origins. I don’t think anyone would complain about that technicality. Knuckles Chaotix has never been a part of a Sega compilation or gotten its own standalone port. It’s time for this game to find a life beyond the 32X.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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