It’s been two years since I wrote an article celebrating some of the best Sonic mods available on the Steam Workshop for the original three sonic the hedgehog Games. As I write this, it’s been two days since Sega announced Sound originsa collection of the first three sonic the hedgehog games with sonic cd. And just minutes ago, Sega announced that it was pulling the original games from Steam.
Simply put, mods for Mega Drive games are often called “ROM hacks” because you “hack” a game’s “Read-Only Memory” file. The most common ROM hacks are translation fixes for games never released in Japan, but there are plenty of hacks that change every aspect of a game, from sprites to soundtrack.
While we can assume that anyone who already owns the delisted Sonic games will still be able to download them, no one new will be able to purchase them. In my aforementioned article, I only covered 11 mods out of over 1,300 different Sonic mods available for SEGA Mega Drive and Genesis Classics on Steam. For six years people were able to get their own Steam account and buy sonic the hedgehog, then find out that it supports Steam Workshop only to fall down the rabbit hole and check out fantastic mods. Add Tails to the first game, replace the characters with others from Sonic AdvancePlay as Metal Sonic in all new areas…
And if the developer of the next sonic 3 complete or Classic Sonic Heroes gets a new computer in June, just weeks after Sega released the original games? Well hard, we’ll never see what new mechanics they might have produced. No other Sonic supports Steam Workshop, the various mods and hacks are available on a variety of fan sites instead.
Of course, I’m only someone who plays with mods rather than creating them. So I contacted a member of the ROM hacking community, the creator of Sonic 2 Versus Edition who had this to say:
Steam Workshop provides a frictionless platform for hosting, discovery, delivery, and metrics that puts ROM hacks by individuals and small teams on an equal footing with larger work, and gives players a way to enjoy these hacks through a professional package. With this ruling, the promotion of ROM hacks is relegated from a legally legitimate route to community sites and events, personal hosting, and social media. Sega Retracted This Olive Branch At A Time They’re Coming Out Originsa title that benefits from the expertise of the hacker community.
It would be remiss of me not to mention it. SEGA Mega Drive and Genesis Classics has other games to buy that can always be changed. Like the two mods for Comix area (not including translation mods), the 15 for Ecco the dolphinor the one for Space Harrier 2 – did I mention there are over 1,000 for the Sonic Games? 20 of them were created for the Sonic Hacking Contest 2021!
Companies have every right to protect their intellectual property, but it’s hard not to be cynical when a company removes a product because a “remaster” is going to be available, especially when the original is fully editable. To me it looks like Sega doesn’t want people to add the features of Sound origins in sonic the hedgehog. Modders have been doing this for over a decade already and are probably worried that Sega has taken their ideas instead. After all, the ROM hack Knuckles in Sonic 1 has been around since April 2016, was quite interesting the very first mod to be uploaded to the Steam Workshop, and its creator (Simon Thomley) later worked on Sonic Mania.
And now it’s a feature in Sound origins.