The type of mania Sega was not hoping for occurred today.
At approximately 12 noon ET, what is known as version 1.04 of Sonic Mania was deployed worldwide to Playstation 4 owners who had a copy of the game installed. Those who had auto-update turned on have a copy of the update in their hands, which appeared to have been active for at least an hour before being pulled offline.
Screenshots and video began flooded social media, as the updates appeared numerous and principally to serve a setup for the forthcoming proper release of Sonic Mania Plus. Multiple sources have confirmed to TSSZ that the changes range from minor sound design and sprite differences for the characters, to substantial changes such as proper zone transitions and an overhaul to the Metal Sonic boss in Stardust Speedway. Multiple new menu options were made available to players, from additional customizations in saved games, to the ability to partially delete data points like medals and time attack achievements.
What was not deployed is still considered to be the heart of Plus, which will be a paid DLC update for current owners, including new character additions Mighty and Ray, and the new Encore Mode. That was fresh on the mind, though, with a link to purchase Plus directly in the game’s menus, though found to be inactive.
Still–especially with some of the tweaks to bosses and level design–it is unclear whether this was intended as a free update at all. Certainly there have been no indications version 1.4 was meant to see the light of day this far ahead of a planned Summer release for Plus.
If the release is confirmed accidental, it would be the largest compromise Sega has endured for the Sonic franchise since the entire contents of Sonic 4: Episode I were deliberately released through a series of videos on Sonic Retro in 2010. That leak forced administrators at Sonic Retro to place a temporary ban on the game’s discussion. It also forced Sega to delay Episode I to tweak in-game mechanics and content.
But for Sega, it is the third major leak of its IP in less than five months. In January, Sega’s official arcade website released what turned out to be a working copy of Daytona Championship USA for download. In late February, Sega uploaded what was meant to be a demo of Yakuza 6, but Sega admitted some players were able to use an exploit to play the full game and pulled the demo offline. Like this mishap, that also occurred via the Playstation store.
As of the time of this article’s publication, Sega has not afforded comment, and neither has Sony. We will update here if and when that occurs. We should note this story may be subject to removal per our Sensitive Materials Policy.