Sonic Origins’ physical “Plus” release might not be as definitive as one would hope… maybe?

A while back, we bemoaned Sega’s frustrating decision to release Sonic Origins somewhat piecemeal, initially putting out just the base game and later adding a variety of features through DLC. Today, it appears that there may be another annoying chapter to this story: the impending physical release of Sonic Origins Plus, set to arrive on June 23, 2023, may not be as “definitive” a collection as people had been hoping.

Now, I’ll preface the following by saying that the entire upset over this is based on a single tweet — a single tweet from someone who saw someone else’s photograph of a piece of prerelease packaging from Gamestop in the United States. So until the game is actually in people’s hands and we can confirm it for certain, perhaps take the following with a pinch of salt, just in case the Internet is… being the Internet, as it is often wont to be.

The upset over the new collection stems from this photograph, posted by Twitter user SnazzySonic.

Sonic Origins Plus physical release

If you look closely, it would appear to indicate that some of the most major additional content for the “Plus” release of Sonic Origins — notably the addition of Amy Rose as a playable character, plus 12 Game Gear Sonic games that don’t see a rerelease all that often — is locked behind a download code. Not a free downloadable update — a download code, meaning that if the game is sold second-hand, you’ll miss out on this extra material. It’s Project Ten Dollar all over again!

This would seem to suggest that the PS5 disc for Sonic Origins Plus (which is what is displayed in the photo) only contains the base Sonic Origins game at most, effectively including the $9.99 “Plus” upgrade for “free” as a download code.

The most likely explanation for this, if true, would be that the additional “Plus” content wasn’t ready by the time the physical releases of the game went to manufacturing. In which case, you would have perhaps hoped that they’d delay the release in order to include it.

Sonic Origins Plus

If true, this is obviously absolute bullshit for preservation — because these days, an important reason for physical releases to continue to exist is for archival and preservation purposes. If they indeed have taken this approach, Sega has ensured that Sonic Origins Plus is unarchivable in its entirety, except via less-than-official means. Given that it’s been quite a delay between the original release of Sonic Origins and this physical Plus release, there’s really very little excuse for it to happen — if it’s true.

You’ll notice I’ve said “if true” a lot. There are a few reasons I think it’s worth questioning this so much.

Firstly is the fact that when Sega released Sonic Mania Plus, they took care to ensure that everything was on the game disc or cartridge. They knew that folks had held out for that release in physical form so that they could get everything in one go, and they delivered big-time with an excellent package. It would seem foolish for them to take such a wildly different approach with Sonic Origins.

Secondly, this back-of-box shot is the first we’ve heard of the additional material being download-only. If you look at any of Sega’s official promotional material for the physical release — including that sent privately to press — there’s absolutely no mention of the download requirement anywhere. And with the “16 included Sonic games plus bonus characters!” forming such an important part of the overall marketing for the collection, you’d think they’d be obliged to mention if 12 of those games and one of the most requested bonus characters will only be available to those who buy the game new.

Sonic Origins Plus

Thirdly, a prerelease package in an outlet like Gamestop is not necessarily the most reliable source. Game retailers often receive dummy inlays for popular upcoming games well in advance of their release, allowing shoppers to take said box up to the cash register and preorder the game. These dummy inlays sometimes differ from the final product — notably, they typically don’t have a barcode on them (as this one doesn’t), and there have been occasions where they include outdated information or different artwork.

Finally, we’ve only seen the dummy inlay for the PlayStation 5 version so far, and only from a single source. While it would be bizarre for the PlayStation 5 version to be the only one to omit part of the game from the disc, considering the capacity of Blu-Ray discs, it’s potentially not out of the question for Sega to cheap out on one or more of the versions that they think might not sell as well as the others.

As a retro package, Sonic Origins Plus is more than likely going to sell best on Switch, so it’s frustratingly plausible in this stupid world we live in that they might actually include everything on a Switch cart, but not on a Blu-Ray. That would be dumb, yes, but today’s incarnation of Sega is most certainly not immune to unfathomably dumb decisions.

Sonic Origins Plus

There’s one other factor to bear in mind, though, and that is that Sega themselves — either via their official brand Twitter account or the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter page — have not commented on the matter at all, even when asked directly by fans. This may be an indication that their PR department is trying to figure out the best way to break the bad news to everyone — though given the size of the accounts in question, it may also simply be that the few questions over this have been lost in a flurry of other replies.

So, annoyingly for those who have preordered Sonic Origins Plus in the hope of getting a “definitive” edition of the collection in physical, archivable form, we won’t really know for sure until final physical copies actually arrive with people towards the end of the month. If it turns out that the “Plus” content is indeed only supplied as a download code, then by all means be upset.

If it turns out this was just a Gamestop dummy box and not representative of the final packaging, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

And if it turns out this is an example of an Internet user doctoring a photo in the hope of acquiring some clout — which, regrettably, wouldn’t be unheard of these days — then, well, we can all be frustrated for a different reason.

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Pete Davison
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