Why Is Sonic Origins More Complicated Than It Needs To Be?

I'm done with spreadsheets.

Sonic Origins
Sonic Origins

They’ve been ported across plenty of different platforms over the years now, but if you were to say “hey, would you like to play the original Sonic games again for a small nominal fee?” I’d probably snap your hand off. It’s a nostalgia kick as someone who spent a long time playing Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles on the SEGA Mega Drive as a kid. Sure, I had to get my mum to beat the final boss of Sonic 3 because I couldn’t do it, but that’s besides the point.

I, erm, have beaten the game since, by the way.

Unfortunately, now that it’s been given a release date, I can’t get excited for Sonic Origins. It’s a shame, because it sounds like everything child me would have wanted from an updated version of these classic Sonic games. Can you use Sonic, Tails and Knuckles across Sonic 1, 2, 3, S&K and Sonic CD? Yes, and that looks brilliant. Are there additional modes to include infinite lives, helping players who might struggle with the classic difficulty? Absolutely. Is there a mission mode and overall meta-game to incentivise replaying these legendary games? Aye, there is.

It all sounds great on paper, but SEGA have undone any potential goodwill that Sonic Origins might have had by creating one of the most ridiculous and pointless content charts ever seen.

Sonic Origins
Sonic Origins

Having basic spreadsheet literacy has become a genuine need in order to understand what content you may or may not receive depending on if you’ve bought a deluxe version of a game, or pre-ordered it even, but Sonic Origins’ content chart is beyond even parody.

The chart showcases how Sonic Origins’ content is spread out across three different DLC packs, but unless you pre-order the Digital Deluxe Edition, you won’t receive access to everything for some baffling reason. Despite everything except the Letterbox Backgrounds from the Premium Fun Pack being available in the Digital Deluxe Edition, you won’t get those Letterbox Backgrounds in the Deluxe version unless you pre-order or purchase the Premium Fun Pack, which is just ridiculous.

It could be argued that this is a problem of bad communication, as these charts always look to accentuate the FOMO of not buying the most expensive version of a game immediately, but that argument fails to hold water. Why segment your content in such a way where even if someone chooses to purchase the more expensive version of Sonic Origins, they’d still have to buy a DLC pack to unlock everything?

It’s unnecessary fluff content as well. There’d be at least some understanding if SEGA offered something like “Amy Rose is playable in all 5 games but only if you get the Digital Deluxe Edition”. It’s not great, and just perpetuates the issue of this bizarre content chopping trend, but at least it’d be significant. Instead, it’s pointless stuff like “character animation on the main menu”, which just sounds like we’re being forced to pay for unfinished features. Still, SEGA have attributed value to the existence of this fluff content, and gating it off in this way is blatant nickel and diming behaviour.

Sonic Origins
Sonic Origins

Perhaps more to the point, though: why is a port of some classic Sonic games being given this monster of a spreadsheet? Why was some poor intern forced to use their best Microsoft Excel and Photoshop skills to create this cursed content cross section? Again, Sonic Origins is just a series of updated ports for some classic games.

It didn’t need to be this complicated, and it certainly doesn’t need to cost $45 for the Digital Deluxe Edition. I’m pretty sure most would have been happy with 5 games in their normal format, one simple menu to select each game and a $20 at most price tag. Hell, you could pick up a PS2 and a copy of Sonic Mega Collection Plus on eBay for about the same price as Sonic Origins’ Digital Deluxe Edition. Sure, you wouldn’t be able to play Sonic CD or look at some new animated cutscenes, but at least Sonic Mega Collection Plus had Ristar and Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Clearly, it’s the superior product.

These maddening content charts aren’t anything new, as they’ve been utilised by modern games for years now, but perhaps that was to be expected. Modern gaming’s just gotta be modern gaming, I guess, even if that means being as greedy and as predatory as possible. Taking that approach to something as nostalgic as Sonic however, especially when the Sonic licence is in a rare upward swing at the minute thanks to the films and Sonic Mania, feels like a double barrel 12-gauge to the foot from SEGA.

READ MORE: 9 Forgotten Video Game Mascots That Couldn’t Rival Mario and Sonic

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