I get it. The original Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy (and Sonic CD, I guess) are some of the most beloved Sonic games of all time. Plus, we’re still coming off the highs of Sonic’s 30th anniversary and the second movie. It makes financial sense for Sega to release these games over and over and over again, especially now with general interest in the franchise higher than it’s been in a while. I can’t deny that I’ve double-dipped on Sonic 1-3 more than my fair share in my 30-plus years as a fan.
Now, with the recent release of Sonic Origins, I’ve added yet another compilation to my always-growing classic Sonic trilogy rerelease pile. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a sucker for bells and whistles, and any chance to play some of my favorite games ever with new features, tweaks and quality of life upgrades will never fail to pique my interest.
Still, I can’t help but want more — especially at the price point Origins asks for how much it offers. More bells. More whistles. More features. And more than anything else, more games. It’s high time that other Sonic titles get the collection treatment, and there's certainly precedent for it.
Sonic Mega Collection, released almost 20 years ago as a GameCube exclusive, was a fantastic early attempt at getting older titles into the hands of players. Sonic Team cut no corners making sure that every single Sonic game released on the Mega Drive/Genesis was included in this bad boy, including spinoff titles like Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Obviously, they’re not as beloved as the mainline games (and, arguably in the case of Spinball, don’t deserve to be), but they’re integral pieces of Sonic’s history all the same.
Sonic Team could do better, though, and it knew it. When they created Sonic Mega Collection + for PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox, it threw in half of Sonic's Game Gear library as well. It was the biggest collection of Sonic games in once place to date, but the studio took things even further later on — and many fans likely don’t even realize it.
Sonic Gems Collection, released in 2005, appeared to be a relatively small compilation compared to its Mega Collection precursor. What Gems Collection seemingly lacked in content, it made up for in the sheer rarity of games included: Sonic CD and Sonic R had only seen rereleases on PC at that point, and this was the first time the arcade-exclusive Sonic the Fighters was available on a home console, too. For fans who wanted more Game Gear goodness, the second half of Sonic’s Game Gear library was included as well, giving them all 12 Sonic Game Gear games on then-modern hardware. But there were even more goodies hidden away.
As a reward for playing the games for certain lengths of time, players could unlock five- to 20-minute demos of every other classic Sonic game on Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear, from Sonic 1 to the critically-panned Sonic Labyrinth. The demos allowed them to face off against the final boss of each game, and if beaten within the demo’s time limit, it would reset to the game’s title screen and let them enjoy the game from the beginning with whatever sliver of time remained.
Here’s the kicker, though. Those demos? They’re not just demos. They’re the entire games. Behind a timewall. That’s right: in addition to the main titles included, every Genesis/Mega Drive and Game Gear Sonic game is there as well — in full — in Sonic Gems Collection, yet cannot be played in full without hacking the game. That’s over 20 Sonic titles in one massive compilation. And that’s to say nothing of other classic Sonic games that were considered for inclusion but ultimately dropped, including the lost Sonic Eraser and SegaSonic the Hedgehog. So many small teases for what could have been an outstanding collection of classic Sonic games.
That makes it all the more perplexing that Sega continues to be stingy with Sonic compilations down to this day. If every classic-era Sonic game ever made could fit on a single GameCube or PlayStation 2 disc, creating a complete classic Sonic collection for modern consoles today seems like a no-brainer. Instead, they opt to throw out bits and pieces of Sonic goodness here and there, knowing the fans will lap it up (and let’s not kid ourselves: We completely totally will). Many of these lesser-known games are being left to languish in obscurity, and with Sonic’s 30th anniversary and the recent movie undoubtedly bringing in new fans, it’s a golden opportunity for Sega to get some of Sonic’s other adventures into the hands of modern gamers.
Speaking of “modern”, let’s talk a bit about the modern Sonic games.
The modern 2D titles in particular have been woefully ignored for far too long. You can find used cartridges of the (still brilliant) Sonic Advance trilogy for the Game Boy Advance and the Sonic Rush duology for the Nintendo DS online, but no doubt they’ll become more difficult to get a hold on as technology marches on. Sonic Advance 1-3 are available on the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan, but that service is going the way of the dinosaur by this time next year.
Sonic Battle? Sonic Pinball Party? How about the Sonic Rivals duology, only available on the original PSP? Heck, there’s a small but very vocal section of the fandom that would love to see Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure for the ill-fated Neo Geo Pocket Color in a modern Sonic collection. These are all games — most of which are absolutely worth replaying — just wasting away in Sega’s vaults. I honestly have no idea how easy or difficult it would be to, say, cram them all onto a Switch card or two, but I’d love to see Sega at least consider the possibility.
We’re also reaching the point technologically where it might be feasible to consider collecting some of the older 3D Sonic titles together in a beefy package. Admittedly, everyone knows how spotty 3D Sonic’s track record is, but – decent or not – they’re all still part of Sonic’s history. For example, a collection of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 would no doubt sell like gangbusters, and for many, Sonic Heroes was their first Sonic game. Again, I admit I’m not tech savvy enough to know the feasibility of collecting larger titles like Sonic 2006 or Unleashed together, but it’s certainly food for thought. Especially since the games face being unlisted fairly often.
Don’t get me wrong. As I mentioned from the outset, I appreciate being able to replay the OG Sonic trilogy (and CD, I guess) with some neat additions sprinkled in. I’ll give Sega a pass this time — after all, it’s still kinda-sorta Sonic’s 30th anniversary — but when it gets a wild hair to churn out another Sonic collection or rerelease after this, I hope it decide to step it up, let some more obscure titles see the light of day, and really give the fans some more bang for their buck. The Sonic the Hedgehog games library has so much more to offer fans, and we’re ready and willing to put our money where our mouths are.