Sonic fans have a complicated relationship with the franchise. Gamers tend to gravitate towards the earlier entries in the series since recent releases have suffered from…oh let’s say “inconsistent” quality. Plus, gamers never had to worry about DLC in those early Sonic the Hedgehog adventures as each early Sonic game shipped complete, and every available extra mode was eventually unlockable without needing to pay additional money. Well, at least gamers used to not have to worry about DLC in classic Sonic games, that is.
Recently, Sega revealed Sonic Origins: a remastered collection of the first three Sonic the Hedgehog games. The collection’s trailer promises all kinds of fun extras, such as the ability to play as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and utilize different rendering modes. The video even showed off new animated content that channeled the same energy as Sonic Mania. The trailer sent many fans rushing to see when they could actually buy the collection. That’s when the problems started.
Shortly after the surprise announcement, Sega provided the first details about the upcoming collection’s release structure, and they were nothing short of confusing and disappointing. The official game site revealed via a kind of spreadsheet that many of the collection’s new features will be locked behind DLC and various special editions of the game. Just look at this lunacy:
That chart is filled with strange and terrible decisions. For example, Sonic Origins will introduce missions to provide new challenges and rewards. The hardest missions, however, won’t be included in the Standard Edition of the game. In order to access those challenges, players either need to buy the Premium Fun Pack or the Digital Deluxe Edition. The promised new animations, or at least some of them, are also locked behind a paywall. If gamers want to see characters move on the main menu or enjoy the “Music Islands” (which sounds like a music player mode), they need to shell out extra money for, again, the Premium Fun Pack or Digital Deluxe Edition. Needless to say, Sonic fans were less than enthused.
As some of those fans have pointed out on Twitter and elsewhere, the big problem with this whole pricing structure is that the different editions are utterly unnecessary. Even if Sega was going to limit certain new features to a premium edition of the collection, why did they spread them so unevenly between so many different versions of the game? Your best bet to see everything is to pre-order the Digital Deluxe Edition. Beyond that…good luck.
However, arguably the deepest reaction cut, pun definitely intended, came from Devolver Digital’s social media manager. In response to Sonic Origins’ DLC, Devolver Digital’s Twitter page posted a handy preorder guide to their upcoming game Trek to Yomi. According to the spreadsheet, the game only comes in one edition, which includes the same game, visuals, and soundtrack regardless of platform.
Almost everyone else who has replied to the original Sonic Origins announcement post has expressed similar sentiments and longed for the days when players didn’t need a spreadsheet to understand what they were buying. One commenter in particular even claimed they would rather dust off their GameCube and copy of Sonic Mega Collection than buy Sonic Origins. Since Sonic Mega Collection includes a total of 14 titles, in addition to concept art and other extras not available in Sonic Origins, that definitely sounds like a superior experience.
Admittedly, some fans have deciphered the spreadsheet and are convinced it is only so confusing because it was poorly edited, but there are few who are genuinely happy about this arrangement. Many gamers who have read about the DLC and the extras locked behind it have already lost a lot of faith in Sonic Origins, and judging by their responses, hype for the game probably would have been compromised even if that spreadsheet was easier to read. That’s the kind of blowback you should probably expect when you try to re-release a classic game like it’s a parody of microtransaction-filled modern titles.