Sonic Origins is the latest entry for the blue blur in the long-running series, but it isn’t exactly a new game. Instead, it is a collection of the first four games that started it all for the iconic mascot – Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD.
As we look back at Sonic, SEGA has published an interview with game director Katsuyuki Shigahara that sheds light on how Sonic Origins came to be, along with a few interesting tidbits about its development.
What made you decide to remake the origins of the Sonic franchise?
Shigihara: The Sonic the Hedgehog movie series was a big hit and seen by a wide audience. I wanted to give people an opportunity to play through the classics and get familiar with the story and gameplay of the original titles. I hope that many newcomers to the franchise will enjoy the games and continue playing Sonic in the future.
There were some difficulties during the development process. One example would be the islands in the Main Menu screen. If we used modern technology and made the islands look too realistic, it would ruin the retro aesthetic of the games. At the same time, however, we didn’t want to make the visuals look poor. It was very difficult to balance.
Also, digging up the valuable materials from Sega’s warehouse that we later added to the Museum was really fun. There’s a lot of content that is being released for the first time, so you should definitely check it out!
The original Mega Drive game editions were developed on hardware that’s 30 years old, but
they were able to implement high-speed scrolling, 360-degree loops, and spiral movement!
Shigihara: Given the limitations of the hardware, I think the techniques they created to implement their ideas are truly amazing. The development process must have been difficult, but you can tell that the developers really pushed the limits of the game. Given how much love the game still receives 30 years after its release, I think that all developers should follow that approach of challenging one’s limitations.
The new animation for each title is a great addition to the game!
Shigihara: We used animation to express the story in a straightforward way without disrupting the feel of the original games. We hope everyone enjoys these special cutscenes! Also, the animation for Sonic CD has been remastered to 4K. So you can watch these 4K cutscenes on compatible platforms like PS5, Xbox Series X, Steam, and Epic Games. The animation will still be an upgraded Full HD on devices that don’t support 4K.
Can you explain the chronological order of the Sonic titles? Does Sonic CD take place between Sonic 1 and Sonic 2?
Shigihara: The chronological order is Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and then Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Story Mode connects all of these titles into one cohesive experience, so you can enjoy the story while playing through the games.
There’s also a manual from the development period that can be viewed in the Museum. The story is written on it, so I think it would be a neat thing to check out before you start playing!
What are the selling points of the paid DLC, the Premium Fun Pack, and Classic Music Pack?
Shigihara: The Premium Fun Pack is content that enhances your overall enjoyment of Sonic Origins, and the primary focus of this DLC is characters. For example, more characters will show up on the islands in the Main Menu, and missions for each character have been created.
The Classic Music Pack is a collection of BGM tracks from the Mega Drive and Mega CD titles, which are somewhat difficult to obtain nowadays. All of these songs have been digitally remastered!
For newcomers to 2D Sonic games, are there any parts that you would like them to pay attention to?
Shigihara: I would really like them to try out Anniversary Mode. The difficulty of the Sonic titles from 31 years ago remains the same, but with supportive features like having no game-overs, anybody can clear the stages as long as they keep trying. Once you get used to the game, you should definitely challenge yourself and try to get a top score in World Ranking!
If you had to describe the charm of the Sonic franchise in one word, what would it be?
Shigihara: There are a lot of words that come to mind, but I think Sonic’s “coolness” is what I would go with. He’s a fantastic character that has been loved by many for decades, and he’s broken out of the sphere of game media into more conventional markets like animation and movies. As a result, more people have come to know and love Sonic the Hedgehog in recent years.
To end things, do you have anything you would like to say to the fans?
Shigihara: Sonic Origins is a collection that allows players to become familiar with the origins of the Sonic series, and the addition of beginner-friendly features makes it accessible to all. It’s a content-packed title that is great for longtime fans and newcomers to the franchise. We hope that you enjoy playing Sonic Origins!
Sonic Origins is now available on the PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch and PC.