It’s unfortunate that this release has a significant number of problems. Thread about it from Stealth (Headcannon).
I’ve played through the collection. Unlike others, I did not experience any performance issues, although that could be due to playing it on a powerful PC which shouldn’t be required for a collection like this. But your experience my vary.
The positives are, we finally have widescreen versions of Sonic 1 and 2 on PC and consoles and for the first time ever Sonic 3 & Knuckles in widescreen. Along with Sonic CD this collection is the official way of playing the early (and best) Sonic games in 16:9. The original 4:3 versions are also included, which appear to be unaltered.
The anniversary (widescreen) editions have been updated with some changes:
Each game now features an animated intro and outro that briefly sets up the plot for the game and leads it into the next game. I enjoyed these as it helped it make the four games (Sonic 3 & Knuckles is packaged as one game) feel like more of a cohesive whole. You also get additions that make sense, e.g. Tails can fly in Sonic 2, spin and drop dash added to all games etc, creating gameplay unity between the games… although for some reason Knuckles is not playable in CD. Overall, sensible changes.
More controversially the Lives system is completely gone; the player is given infinite lives. Instead, players have a pool of coins across all of the games that can be used to unlock video clips, music, and art in the digital museum. New coins can be earned in any situation where players would originally earn a 1up. If you fail a special stage you’re given the option to retry it for price of one coin, rather than having to find the entrance to the special stage again, making the task of getting all of the chaos emeralds significantly easier. While 90s gaming was a good teacher of patience and the rewards of not giving up, these changes ultimately make the game more accessible and these days when time is more sparse I welcome gameplay additions that reduce repetition.
There are also some new modes. Mirror mode seems a bit pointless. It essentially gives you the option to play the levels flipped around from left to right to from right to left. The mission modes are a bit more interesting, they’re small levels where have a task to complete in a couple minutes or so, say reaching the end with X rings within a time limit. Unessential, but replay value adding challenges.
They’ve also added in the game Blue Spheres (originally unlocked by combining Sonic 1 and Sonic & Knuckles). This has not been updated to widescreen for some reason (even though the in-game special stages have been), however there is a new version called New Blue Spheres that is16:9 and contains some gameplay changes, such as the addition of green and purple spheres to mix things up.
Unfortunately this collection currently contains lots of bugs. So far I’ve had Tails get lost off screen, with the jump sound effect playing infinitely (this happened twice), got stuck in a wall in Launch Base and had to restart (twice), and had trouble double jumping with a lightning shield unless jumping straight upwards.
I’m hoping that these bugs will be fixed, and the game’s performance is improved for others, as in terms of content this is a solid way of experiencing Sonic’s origins that has been made more accessible to modern audiences. There’s also no question that the collection is expensive for such old games, but like the Final Fantasy pixel remasters, the brand is prominent enough to allow for that. So hopefully in the fullness of time, with fixes and sales, buying Sonic Origins will be a no brainer, but for now you’re probably best holding off from making a purchase.