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What exactly makes Sonic Origins so unpalatable?


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I definitely have issues with the game but they're more isolated to specific pieces of hardware (those without accelerated graphics). Just as a game by itself...seems relatively inoffensive.

Honestly I take Sonic Stadium's side on the matter: it's mostly competent. Just wish they didn't use the Hedgehog Engine to make the freaking menus.

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It's exactly what it advertised itself to be, yet the standard we hold for these games demands more. It is, by all technicality, the "definitive" retail version of these games. That does not mean that it's polished or glitch-free.

It bears the unenviable task of replacing the beloved MJ tracks in Sonic 3. The retro engine has enough differences that the audience that demanded this compilation most are let down. It does not include emulations of the original games to placate this. It does not include CRT dithering shaders, ensuring that these games will not look as intended in any official capacity.

It launched with fewer bonuses than Mega Collection, a compilation that existed two decades prior. Not all characters are playable in all games out of the box, apart from a years later paid update. There's no option to play with the life system outside of a half-baked Classic Mode. It could've been so much more.

Yet it's hard to be that mad about it. They play about as well as they should. They include new animated cutscenes. DLC will include Amy and all Game Gear games. Sonic 3&K is finally remastered, something we've wanted for over a decade now. These remasters are no longer shackled to smartphones. 

It evens itself out. It could've been better, historically these have been worse, so it's just hard to feel anything other than "alright, it's here."

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Some corrections I want to make on some of your points there, Blue Blood.

For #3: The reason it looks blurry is due to the Hedgehog Engine frontend and it using bilinear scaling instead of integer scaling, which is supported by the Retro Engine. It wouldn't be a big issue if not for these games being pixel based. With bilinear scaling, the image is upscaled and if the resolution doesn't match 1:1 with the output, guesswork is done to fill in gaps (aka interpolation) which causes the blurred effect. Had they not used Hedgehog Engine, they'd have been able to do integer scaling, which provides the closest 1:1 scale possible to the output resolution. This would mean not getting a fully 4K/1080p image, technically speaking, but to the eyes it would look a lot clearer.

#5: Actually the cutscenes are incorrectly scaled during regular gameplay. The gallery is the only place on Switch where the cutscenes are properly scaled. It's likely due to how the game is programmed in that, the cutscenes are a higher resolution than what the game runs at on Switch, and the Hedgehog Engine just scales it down poorly? The gallery likely uses its own video player that handles it better. At least that's my guess on that.

#8: It's not that the music is at a lower bitrate, but rather that it's run through a low-pass filter. This is probably intentional either to reduce the harshness or to make it sound closer to what it'd sound like on actual Genesis hardware. Weird choice but not a bitrate issue.

But yeah I will say compared to other collections it is severely lacking in customization options in how you want to play. I'll echo again that they should've had an option for lives in Anniversary mode, cutscenes optional, original ROMs in Classic mode, rewind features, save states. This is all standard in every game retro collection these days. 

CRT shaders should've also been included, though what Indigo Rush showed wouldn't have been as easily possible on consoles. Those RetroArch shaders are extremely advanced and mimic the actual makeup of the aperture grill/slot mask, phosphor, halation and diffusion you'd get on an actual CRT. It's remarkable work, especially with how accurately some of them can represent composite video outputs. However, with that said, the clear waterfalls and dithering would only really be seen like that on RF and very specific composite video setups. The Genesis was notorious for rainbowing artifacts on composite video, which heavily affected highly dithered areas like the waterfalls. You could modify it to use S-Video or RGB/SCART, but even on a CRT, it would not dither to make the waterfalls transparent. So I don't really consider that an "intended" look like so many like to claim, because the reality is, for most users it never looked like that in the posted video example. The only benefit for CRT shaders like ones used in Mania is a nostalgia factor, but some like it for the aesthetics and it would've been really easy to just include a few simple ones.

Most of the issues people have wouldn't be there had Sonic Team not insisted on using the Hedgehog Engine. But even then, the core games themselves having weird bugs not present in other versions, on top of lack of features expected in modern releases make it such a hard thing to recommend. It sucks because they got close to making the definitive way to enjoy the classics but dropped the ball on so many things. I could go on about other tidbits I didn't like when it comes to some of the core games like Sonic CD but I'd be making this post way longer than it needs to be. They just should've done better, no excuses.

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The music not only being worse than it was in the mobile releases but for Sonic 3 being worse than it was if recorded off of real hardware (unrelated from the laughable marketing fluff about Senoue returning to finalize the prototype tracks) instantly made it a joke for me. Sega obviously didn't care, so why should I?

That the game runs like shit and looks worse than PC source ports of the mobile versions/A.I.R. and has Denuvo on PC and Sega opted to sell you extra stuff for the game rather than actually fix any of the base game was mostly just noise to me at that point, because I had written them off already. I'd rather just play the actually-definitive Decomps or A.I.R. if I want to play any of these games than reward Sega for making those same things worse.

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@ElectricAngelThanks! I appreciate those corrections and your deeper insight. It just makes everything even more baffling and aggravating when you explain the problems with the correct technical knowledge. 

Side note, but a member at Retro recent made a hugely interesting thread going into the technicalities of why the replacement music in S3K Origins sounds so bad. The short of it is that it comes from an unfinished prototype and was definitely not touched up at all for Origins. But I recommend you read the whole thing to get a the full picture. It's very enlightening. 

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