"Cool, Sweet, & Catchy!" - A Sonic the Hedgehog music appreciation thread

Oct 9, 2007
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Between 1991 and 2008, Sonic the Hedgehog has managed to reach some of the highest heights in gaming as well as some of the lowest lows. His games simultaneously rank among the best and worst in platformer history. But in spite of the varying quality of the gameplay, the series has a single constant: fantastic music. Over the years the series has hit J-pop, Europop, hip hop, rock, metal, jazz, electronica, funk, and many more genres, pulling (almost) every one of them off superbly. This thread is in honor of the dozens of different men and women who have worked behind the scenes to make that possible.




A brief thread history:

Idle talk can be a dangerous thing, especially in a topic like the Smash Bros. Brawl Dojo thread. This topic started out intended for that topic as a definitive, comprehensive list of music from Sonic games that would go well in Brawl. The songs people were mentioning were all well and good, but for the most part they were the same ones you always hear mentioned whenever the subject of Sonic music comes up, ignoring all but a small percentage of games and music. Once I finished it up and started looking it over though, it was pretty obvious that somewhere around Sonic Adventure 2 it had regressed from "Sonic music that would be good to Brawl by" to "the best of Sonic". At the time, it had 115 songs listed. In the interests of topicality (and subsequently not getting potentially banned for going wildly off topic), I tucked the file away with the intent of later turning it into an appreciation thread like Pureauthor's then-recent Mega Man music appreciation thread (update it for Mega Man 9, you slacker).

Fast forwarding to around a week ago, I picked this back up and started going through my music archives again, intentionally going for "the best of" this time around. Having finished that, it still seemed pretty barebones for an appreciation thread, so I decided to do music trivia and composer writeups for each game as well to make it interesting. That lasted until I hit the Game Gear/Master System version of Sonic 1 before branching out into development history, occasionally sprinkled with a bit of commentary. Add in a title screen for each game and you finally have a complete thread. Right?

In the interests of keeping everything legal, every song is actually a Youtube link. This worked out pretty well, except for the fact that about a fifth of the songs I'd picked out weren't posted on Youtube. Well, in the interim between the first and second versions of the list, Audiosurf came out. Audiosurf is awesome. As frequent visitors of the local Audiosurf thread should be aware, I've made a habit of recording Audiosurf runs and putting them on Youtube. In what turned out to be one of those ideas that only sounded good at the time, I decided to run every one of them through Audiosurf (without sound effects), and post them to Youtube myself rather than give up and use direct mp3 links. If you ever see me suggest something like that ever, ever again, please talk me out of it.



Disclaimer: As comprehensive as this is, there are exponentially more songs that I've left out, some of which are very good. This is partially because I wanted to focus a bit more on the ones that everyone doesn't know already, and partially because this list is skewed to my personal tastes. You're welcome to call a track you think I've missed to my attention, but keep in mind that I've listened to it at least twice recently and intentionally left it off. You are not likely to change my mind.

On the other hand, if you see a track you don't recognize, why not take a moment and listen to it? In the course of putting this together, I found several songs I didn't know I liked, gained a new appreciation for some that I'd only skimmed over before, and a decided that a few were less good than I remembered. Perhaps you'll feel the same.

On the off chance that you come across a broken link or removed video, send me a PM.


Games arranged in chronological order.




Sonic 1



Sega needed a showcase game and a mascot, and they needed it fast. Despite being on the American market for several months (over a year in Japan), the 16-bit Genesis/Mega Drive was having trouble picking up steam, and Nintendo's next-gen effort wasn't far off. Alex Kidd had a decent following, but as a marketing tool couldn't compete with the pair of plumbers. An internal contest was held, and after going through several concepts, designer Naoto Oshima came up with a speedy rabbit who could throw objects with his ears. However, the design team eventually decided that the item-throwing mechanic detracted from the fast pace they wanted and devised a rolling attack instead. Oshima came back with two candidates: a red armadillo, and a little blue hedgehog.

Sega, highly enthusiastic about the launch of their new mascot, decided to have the soundtrack done by an established artist from the music industry. They approached rising pop band Dreams Come True about the job, and their leader Masato Nakamura signed on. Sega sponsored their upcoming tour (for their third album, Wonder 3), and in return Sonic was painted on the group's trailer and pamphlets about the game were distributed at their concerts.

DCT's fourth album MILLION KISSES (released in November 1991) includes the track "Kusuriyubi no Kesshin", based on Starlight Zone. Years later in 1997, their album Sing Or Die included "Marry Me?", based on Green Hill Zone.

Nakamura also took some inspiration from a variety of musicians, to varying degrees.

Andy Williams - Music To Watch Girls By (Marble Zone)
Bobby Brown - Every Little Step (Spring Yard Zone; this one is less direct, but it's very much the same style of music, and you can hear SYZ's opening riff several times in the bassline)
Vangelis - Blade Runner (End Titles) (Scrap Brain Zone; if the identical chord progression doesn't convince you, the timpani should)
Duran Duran - Planet Earth (Final Zone)

The water timer theme has been reused for the same purpose in every game in the series that features drowning.

As one last bit of musical trivia, Eggman's name likely comes from the Beatles song, "I Am the Walrus":

"I am the eggman, they are the eggmen; I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob."

Green Hill Zone
Spring Yard Zone
Star Light Zone
Scrap Brain Zone
Invincibility



Sonic 1 GG/MS



While the primary purpose of Sonic was to drive the popularity of the Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega's Master System was still popular in some parts of the world, and they had a new handheld to support as well. Thus, Sonic quickly found himself outsourced in 8-bit both at home and on the go courtesy of developer Ancient. Founder and composer Yuzo Koshiro remixed the title theme (and its various renditions), level complete theme, and Green Hill Zone music from the 16-bit version, but wrote new tracks for the rest of the game.

Bridge Zone
Jungle Zone
Scrap Brain Zone
Bonus Stage



Sonic 2 GG/MS



A little over a year later, Sonic returned. However, the first appearance of Sonic 2 wasn't the legendary 16-bit version, but instead the 8-bit title. It was released a month earlier in Latin America and Europe, the regions in which the Master System still had the strongest pull.

This time (and again for nearly every other 8-bit title in the series) development was outsourced to Aspect Co. Unlike its predecessor, 8-bit Sonic 2 has virtually nothing in common with its 16-bit brother other than introducing Tails.

Musical credits are sketchy, but the composers can be identified as Masashi Ogata, Naofumi Hataya, and "Dawasa".

The Game Gear version's boss theme is likely inspired by 808 State's Cubik.

Underground Zone
Aqua Lake Zone
Green Hills Zone
Scrambled Egg Zone



Sonic 2



Shortly after the completion of Sonic 1, Hirokazu Yasuhara and Yuji Naka both left Sonic Team. Yasuhara left for the US to co-found Sega Technical Institute, a studio created for new American staff to learn from veteran Japanese staff. He had planned to do this a year earlier but was delayed, and ended up as the director of Sonic 1 in the interim. Naka quit because of Sega's pay policy. Mark Cerny, the other co-founder of STI and friend of Naka, invited him to come to the States and and join the team. A couple months later, STI found itself working on the sequel to the company's biggest game ever. The combined Japanese-American staff conflicted frequently, but managed to get the job done nonetheless.

Masato Nakamura was signed on once more to compose the soundtrack. The game's ending theme inspired the DCT track "Sweet Sweet Sweet" ("Sweet Dream" in English), released on their fifth album The Swinging Star a week before Sonic 2 hit shelves in November 1992.

Track 10 in the sound test is the BGM for the scrapped Hidden Palace Zone.

The most famous of the various Sonic 2 prototypes contains the full soundtrack, but a few of the tunes are different from their final versions.

Emerald Hill Zone
Casino Night Zone
Hill Top Zone
Mystic Cave Zone
Metropolis Zone
Sky Chase Zone
Special Stage
Ending



SegaSonic the Hedgehog



A company with a strong arcade presence like Sega wasn't about to leave their internationally popular mascot out of the fun. Joined by Ray the Flying Squirrel and Mighty the Armadillo (the runner-up hero of Sonic 1), Sonic's AM3 developed adventure hit the coin-op scene in 1993.

SegaSonic is the first title in the series with voice acting. It's also one of few to never have been rereleased, largely because of the difficulty of emulating a trackball.

Sound is credited to H. Miyauchi, K. Hanada, and N. Tokiwa.

Quick! Escape!
Trap Tower
All Over ~ Credits



Sonic CD (JP/EU)



While much of the former Sonic Team had left for STI in the States, Naoto Oshima stayed in Japan. STI was tasked with developing the Genesis sequel to Sonic, but Sega also wanted a Sonic title to support the Sega CD add-on unit, which was left to Oshima's team. Details are sketchy (literally in some cases), but at one point Sonic 2 was going to incorporate time travel, and old magazine scans suggest that at first Sonic CD was supposed to be an enhanced port of Sonic 2 with extra animated cutscenes and more. Development diverged fairly early on, however. Sonic 2 scrapped time travel completely, while Sonic CD embraced it as an integral component of the gameplay. The massive success of Sonic 2 influenced Sega to push back Sonic CD, and the game finally released in Japan on September 23, 1993.

Toot Toot Sonic Warrior
Palmtree Panic Zone Present
Quartz Quadrant Zone Present
Wacky Workbench Zone Bad Future
Stardust Speedway Zone Present/Bad Future
Metallic Madness Zone Present/Past/Bad Future
Cosmic Eternity ~ Believe In Yourself



Sonic CD (US)



Using the strengths of the medium, Sonic CD featured quality Redbook CD audio, far above what was attainable by cartridge based systems. In the Japanese and European releases, the soundtrack was composed by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata. However, Sega of America execs apparently didn't think the j-pop music would go over well with American players, and the game was delayed for a couple months while Spencer Nilsen composed an all new rock-inspired soundtrack for the game. To this day, opinions are split on which one is better.

edit: PepsimanVsJoe has since chimed in with another potential explanation for the change:

PepsimanVsJoe said:
Just wanted to mention that one of the possible reasons why the US Sonic CD has a different soundtrack is that the JP Sonic CD soundtrack uses a LOT of samples.

The boss theme where it goes into "Work that hog to death"(???) was ripped almost completely from some funk song that for the life of me I can't find the title/artist of. There is also the "Good God!" from War. What is it good for? making an appearance in Stardust Speedway. Granted most of the stuff is either obscure as hell or hard to catch but all the same it's something I'd want to avoid(And Spencer Nilsen is a God so more music by him is always a plus).

Not that this is the sole reason why SoA changed the soundtrack but I can imagine this being a possibility.
Known samples (Drop me a PM if you're aware of more):

Public Enemy - Bring the Noise (Stardust Speedway Present - "Turn it up!")
Edwin Starr - War, What Is It Good For? (Stardust Speedway Bad Future - "Good God!")
Xavier - Work That Sucker to Death (Boss - "work that sucker to death, come on now, work that sucker to death")
Bob Marley vs Funkstar De Luxe - Sun is Shining (Boss - 0:44)

Not that Sega's handling of the two soundtracks since has helped any. The PC release of Sonic CD included the American music in all regions. The Sonic screensaver includes the Japanese music in all regions. The Sonic Gems Collection release (which is a port of the PC release), included one or both soundtracks depending on which console you bought it for, and in which region.

The JP opening theme "Toot Toot Sonic Warrior" is based on Green Hills Zone from Sonic 2 GG/MS. The first, but not last, time the theme would be reused. It also has the distinction of being the first song in the series with vocals.

According to the American manual, Palmtree Panic's rhythms were inspired by Pete Escovedo's Mister E.

Sonic Boom
Palmtree Panic Zone Present
Collision Chaos Zone Good Future
Tidal Tempest Zone Good Future
Wacky Workbench Zone Present/Bad Future
Stardust Speedway Zone Good Future/Bad Future
Sonic Boom ~ Ending Version



Sonic Chaos (Sonic & Tails)



Aspect strikes again with the first wholly unique 8-bit Sonic title, for what it's worth (still not much). Presumably for marketing reasons, the game was retitled "Sonic Chaos" for release outside of Japan. Sound is credited to Koujiro Mikusa and Nagao N. Gee.

Green Hills Zone reappears again as the loose inspiration for Mecha Green Hill Zone's BGM. The music for Gigapolis Zone was replaced in the Game Gear version for unknown reasons. Finally, there are a couple unused tracks in the sound test.

Aqua Planet Zone
Credits



Sonic Spinball



Ah, spinoffs. Since Sonic 3 wasn't going to be ready for the 1993 holiday season, STI's American staff were tasked with making a title to fill the gap. After nine months of development, the end result was this ill-recieved game based loosely on Sonic 2's popular Casino Night Zone.

The initial print run of the game features a different title theme from later versions. The developers, not knowing that Dreams Come True held the rights to all of the music from Sonic 1 and 2 and that Sega didn't want to pay their licensing fee, had remixed the classic title theme in pinball machine style. They wouldn't discover their error until Yasuhara dropped by their end of development party, at which point composer Howard Drossin quickly wrote a new tune.

Title Theme/Virtual Sonic Remix
Toxic Caves/Virtual Sonic Remix



Sonic 3



Sega of Japan was more than happy to rehire Yuji Naka and give him a promotion after Sonic 2 became a worldwide hit. He was promptly put to work on Sonic 3, but on his own terms. STI would be the developer once again, but only the Japanese staff. After the stress of working on Sonic 2, both the Japanese and Americans were fine with this.

Because of the conflicts with DCT, Nakamura was not signed to do the soundtrack. Instead, Sega turned to pop icon Michael Jackson. Unfortunately, the first of Jackson's child molestation scandals broke out during development, and so Sega dropped Jackson and his work. His song writing team remained however, and the influence shows. Carnival Night Zone samples Jackson's "Jam", and the credits theme would go on to become "Stranger in Moscow" in 1996. Several others are listed under the Sega sound team, including Masaru Setsumaru, Tomonori Sawada, and Jun Senoue.

The level complete theme has been reused in almost every major Sonic game since, and a few spinoffs.

Data Select
Angel Island Zone Act 1/Act 2/SSBB Remix
Hydrocity Zone Act 1/Act 2
Carnival Night Zone Act 1
Icecap Zone Act 2
Miniboss
Boss
Final Boss
Special Stage
Azure Lake
Chrome Gadget
Desert Palace
Credits



Sonic Drift



Sonic's first racing game! While it seems like a natural fit, Drift is first time Sega set out to prove to us that they can in fact fail to deliver on a concept that writes itself. The courses are based on the zones from Sonic 1, but the gameplay leaves much to be desired. Amy Rose and Dr. Eggman are playable for the first time.

Developed by some internal team at Sega of Japan. Nagao N. Gee returns as the composer.

Green Hills Zone returns again as the invincibility tune.

Green Hill
Labyrinth
 
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Sonic & Knuckles



Highly ambitious but behind schedule, the completed parts of Sonic 3 were chopped into a standalone product and pushed out the door in early 1994, resulting in an oddly incomplete feeling game and a level select with all kinds of leftovers remaining in it. In the meantime, the team kept working on developing the game into what it was originally designed to be. Prototypes of the game dating up until May still feature the game as a single, complete product, but presumably they came up with the lock-on technology soon after to avoid using a single overly expensive cartridge. After S&K's release in late 1994, Naka would return to Japan to found a new Sonic Team, which promptly started development on NiGHTS.

Instead of the Jackson team, Howard Drossin is credited as the sole composer, despite the fact that most of the music was finished a year prior. Thankfully, no other game in the series has soundtrack credits as convoluted as S3&K.

The PC release (titled Sonic & Knuckles Collection) features the entire soundtrack redone in MIDI. Well, most of it. Carnival Night Zone, Ice Cap Zone, Launch Base Zone, Knuckles' theme (and by extension the miniboss theme, both from Sonic 3), and the credits music (Sonic 3 version) are all replaced with new compositions. Theoretical explanations for this range from the fact that MIDI can't replicate the FM samples those tracks use very well, to the idea that those tracks are the remnants of Jackson's contributions to the soundtrack and Sega replaced them all to avoid legal complications. In the end no one knows except Sega, and you're better off just playing one of the other ports of the game anyway.

Sonic Pocket Adventure represents an interesting pinnacle in unoriginality for the series by taking most of its graphics from Sonic 2 and almost all of its music from S3&K. Granted, it was Dimps' first project for the series.

If you ever wished that S&K's ending medley included Sonic 3 tunes, listen to this version, from a S3&K prototype dated May 17, 1994.

Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1/Act 2
Flying Battery Zone Act 2
Lava Reef Zone Act 1/Act 2
Sky Sanctuary Zone
Miniboss
Doomsday Zone
Glowing Spheres Bonus



Sonic Triple Trouble (Sonic & Tails 2)



The third time really is the charm, as Triple Trouble is unquestionably the most playable of Aspect's 8-bit Sonic outings. It's also responsible for spawning Fang the Sniper/Nack the Weasel, by far the most popular of the franchise's dead throwaway characters that a segment of the fanbase won't shut up about. Well, with the possible exception of the Tails Doll. Once again, the name was changed for international release.

Sound is credited to Yayoi F., though Koujiro Mikusa is also mentioned under staff.

One of those unused tracks from Sonic Chaos resurfaces here as Sunset Park Act 3.

Sunset Park Act 3
Meta Jungrila
Nack's Theme
Final Boss



Sonic Drift 2



Fresh from their Triple Trouble appearances, Knuckles, Metal Sonic, and Nack join the race. Unfortunately it still isn't one worth entering. This time around, the courses are either original or derived from Sonic 2 or 3.

The music is by Masayuki Nagao and Saori Kobayashi. The invincibility music is straight out of Sonic 3, and the music for the final race is based on S3's boss theme. Unfortunately, every song in the game is about fifteen seconds long.

Hill Top
Final Road



Knuckles' Chaotix



The 32x came, twitched with some signs of life for a while, and then died without fanfare. But if nothing else, its brief, miserable existence resulted in this oddball title. Chaotix started development as a Genesis game, and then got kicked over to the 32x when Sega realized that their latest add-on was in danger of not having the games to justify its $170 price tag. Over the course of development it lost Sonic and Tails, gained a bunch of obscure Sonic characters (Vector, cut from Sonic 1's sound test; Mighty, from SegaSonic Arcade; Charmy, from the same Sonic manga as Amy's prototype), gained a brand new lead character (Espio), bumped Espio to sidekick status in favor of Knuckles when they decided that a Sonic spinoff needed slightly more star power than the reject squad, and finally got kicked out the door six months earlier than it should have been to a lukewarm reception.

The game has its moments. Once in a while everything clicks, and a geniunely great game shines for a moment before being extinguished by the bland and empty level design or wonky elastic mechanics. I contend that the special stages are still the best in the series, in all their low-poly splendor.

And much like modern Sonic games, even if everything else fails to deliver, there's a great soundtrack supporting it from start to finish. Composed by Junko Shiratsu and Mariko Nanba, the music is the best reason Chaotix can offer to justify its existence.

Through an obscure code, Amy Rose cameos in the sound test proclaiming the music to be "COOL, SWEET, & CATCHY!" I agree. Bonus points if you knew the reference in the title before reading down this far (and without using a search function).

As a final note, Billy Hatcher includes a track named "Odd March". That wouldn't ordinarily be noteworthy, but it happens to be a pretty nifty remix of "Child's Song", a Chaotix track. Not coincidentally, Mariko Nanba worked on both games.

Door Into Summer
Speed of Sound
Seascape
Midnight Greenhouse
Evening Star
Child's Song



Tails' Sky Patrol



If you ever thought turning Tails' flight mechanics into a shmup sounded like a good idea, this is the game for you. The rest of you can continue ignoring the fox's first solo title. The gameplay is simple and uninspired, and most of the graphics are pulled from past entries in the series.

Sound is credited to Chikayo and Kazune-chan.

Rail Canyon (which has nothing to do with the Sonic Heroes stage, for better or worse)
Ruinwood Area 1



Tails' Adventure



Fortunately Aspect handled Tails' second starring role, which is an entertaining little adventure platformer that takes a few cues from Metroid. Taking place prior to Sonic 2, the player guides the endlessly inventive sidekick-to-be on a quest to protect his island and the Chaos Emeralds from the Battle Kukku Empire, utilizing a wide variety of gadgets and high explosives in the process.

Sound and music are credited to Koujiro Mikusa.

Poloy Forest
Final Boss



Sonic Labyrinth



If you are ever talking about the quality of Sonic games and this is not at the top of your "Worst Sonic Games Ever" list, you are wrong.

Atsuko Iwanaga gets the sound programmer credit.

Menu
Act 2
Scroll Zone



Sonic the Fighters



Sonic and friends make their (admittedly primitive) 3D debut in this quirky arcade game spawned from a joke by a bored AM2 programmer. Amy's Piko Piko Hammer debuts here, as do one-off cast padding characters Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polarbear. Throw in Nack, Espio, the triple threat, and Eggman and Metal Sonic on boss duty and you have yourself a fighting game. It's no Virtua Fighter, but as a mascot game it plays well enough. A planned Saturn port never materialized, so most people never touched the game until it finally found its way into Sonic Gems Collection. Bean and Bark would go on to represent Sonic and co. in Fighters Megamix and then make cameos in various AM2 games over the years (e.g. Shenmue) until finally fading into obscurity, only for new Archie Sonic comic writer Ian Flynn to pull them back out as insane comedy villains years later on his first day on the job but I'm getting off topic here.

Various pachinko and crane games aside, Fighters is the second and last time Sonic hit the arcades. Presumably the fact that neither SegaSonic nor this performed very well had something to do with that decision. It was renamed Sonic Championship for the US arcade release, but reverted to its Fighters moniker in Gems Collection.

The music was composed by Maki Morrow and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi. All in all it's good stuff, with a handful of particularly catchy tracks.

South Island ~ Lovers
Flying Carpet ~ Back to Soul
Aurora Icefield ~ Black Bed
Canyon Cruise ~ Blue Garden
Sonic vs Knuckles ~ North Wind
Sunset Town



Sonic 3D Blast (Flickies' Island)



Traveller's Tales arguably never hit it big until Lego Star Wars, but they were busy with all sorts of projects during the 15 years prior to turning the ever popular licensed toy construction sets into a hit video game. Sega's internal teams were all preoccupied, but that didn't keep the company from wanting to cash in on the prerendered graphics craze that Rare kicked off with Donkey Kong Country. So Sega wrote up a design document and contracted TT to produce the technology to run it. The end result is technically impressive (and they had enough space to cram a 12 second FMV in besides), but you'll probably have more fun playing its ancestor, Flicky. The subtitle was changed to Flickies' Island for PAL release.

Music and sound effects were handled by Tatsuyuki Maeda, Jun Senoue, Masaru Setsumaru, and Seirou Okamoto. The Act Clear, Extra Life, Game Over, Continue, and Chaos Emerald jingles are all borrowed directly from S3&K, virtually unchanged.


But who decided to name a zone "Panic Puppet"?

Green Grove Zone Act 1
Spring Stadium Zone Act 1
Diamond Dust Zone Act 2
Gene Gadget Zone Act 1
Panic Puppet Zone Act 1



Sonic 3D - Saturn Version



While Travellers' Tales was busy with Sonic 3D, STI had the Saturn's flagship Sonic project in development: Sonic X-treme. Unfortunately, X-treme was a cursed project caught up in development hell. It had moved from the Genesis to the 32x to the Saturn, had a grossly understaffed dev team, and suffered frequent meddling from Sega of Japan. The Saturn version was canceled in favor of focusing development exclusively on the PC version (which would itself be canceled the next year), leaving the Saturn with no upcoming Sonic titles to help it fight off the looming threat of Crash and Mario. Sega went back to Travellers' Tales and asked for a Saturn version of Sonic 3D. TT went to work and cleaned the game up for release on the 32-bit hardware in a matter of weeks, with both versions launching on the same day. The Saturn port was the only version to be released in Japan, and even then it didn't make it there until late 1999, alongside the release of Sonic Adventure International.

Rather than have the music of the Genesis version upgraded to CD audio quality, Richard Jacques was brought in to compose a new soundtrack for the Saturn release. This includes a vocal track, titled "You're My Hero". Almost every track in the game incorporates its melody to a degree. Your mileage may vary, but personally speaking this drives me up a wall.

Green Grove Zone Act 2
Rusty Ruin Acts 1 and 2
Spring Stadium Zone Act 1
Diamond Dust Zone Act 2
Special Stage
You're My Hero



Sonic Blast (G Sonic)



Named G Sonic in Japan but retitled to Sonic Blast elsewhere to tie in with 3D Blast, Sonic's final Game Gear entry was once more developed by Aspect. After so much experience with the system and series, it's really quite impressive how badly they managed to screw this one up. Players are given the choice between Sonic and Knuckles, with their S&K movesets essentially intact. Unfortunately, while the prerendered look worked out well enough for Sonic 3D, 8-bit hardware wasn't up to the task. The game's sprites seem to be molded out of plastic while most of the environments are reminiscent of default Photoshop textures, and it plays about as well as Photoshop to boot.

Koujiro Mikusa returns to handle sound and music again.

Green Hill Zone (not the GHZ you know and love)
Boss Theme
 
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Sonic R



I dare someone to name a game with a more controversial soundtrack. More on that later.

Sonic R exists for a handful of reasons. The Saturn needed help, and it needed it spiky, blue, and fast. After a couple of experiments with Sonic platforming in 3D (Christmas NiGHTS and Sonic Jam's Sonic World; if you mention X-treme, you clearly didn't read the Sonic 3D entry), Sega wanted to experiment with a fully 3D Sonic game without going all the way to platformer and thus decided on a racing game. Travellers' Tales already had an F1 racing engine in development, so when Sega showed up with their idea, they were glad to oblige. If you ever wondered why everyone controls like a car, this is why. Sonic R also marks the first time Takashi Iizuka got full reign as project director. After a poor E3 showing, Sega brought Hirokazu Yasuhara back in to do the level design. Along with Yuji Naka as the producer, Naoto Oshima as a graphical advisor, and Naofumi Hataya as sound advisor, there was an unusual amount of talent behind this particular spinoff. It even got its own Segata Sanshiro commercial (though as was usual for the series, it featured about five seconds of game footage and twenty five seconds of Segata beating up hapless passers-by).

Richard Jacques composed the soundtrack once again. "Super Sonic Racing" was the first track completed for the game, and featured in the E3 demo. Naka liked it so much that he asked Jacques to produce the entire soundtrack in the same style. What we ended up with is an assortment of equally peppy Europop tunes featuring lyrics that are alternately about idealistic "change the world" themes and love, and the most divisive soundtrack in gaming. All lyrics were sung by TJ Davis.

Livin' In the City/Karaoke ver.
Diamond In the Sky/Karaoke ver.
Super Sonic Racing/Karaoke ver.
You're My Number One



Sonic Adventure



Sega had spent a couple years and multiple games working on the idea of Sonic in 3D, and ended up going an entire generation without a proper entry in the series to show for it. Not that they meant to let it slide for so long; Sonic Adventure started off as a Saturn title until they decided that all things considered, they'd be better off developing it for the Dreamcast. But at last, Sonic Team was back to the blue blur, and he was going to show up in style. They staged an entire show just to unveil it, complete with celebrities (and Segata). The game released in Japan just before Christmas 1998, full of bugs but a much needed launch title for the new system. Iizuka and some other members of Sonic Team promptly set off for California to establish Sonic Team USA to clean the game up for its international release (and Japanese rerelease).

On the musical side, after a couple of outings in the series as a bit player (Sonic 3) or in a spinoff (Sonic 3D), Jun Senoue finally advanced to the position of sound director for the series, ready to rock. Joined by Kenichi Tokoi and Fumie Kumatani (with a few tracks contributed by Masaru Setsumaru), they created an all new sound for the series. The end result is a mixture of various styles of rock and jazz, with some lighter tunes and latin flavors thrown in for variety. Meanwhile, Senoue got together with Johnny Gioeli from Hardline and Hirotsugu Homma and Naoto Shibata from Loudness to form the band Sons of Angels. Their primary purpose was to record the soundtrack for NASCAR Arcade, but in the process they also recorded "Open Your Heart" for Sonic Adventure.

The rapping segments in Knuckles' theme were performed by John Simpson III, voice of Sony's PaRappa the Rapper.

Tony Harnell and Ted Poley provide the vocals for Sonic's theme and Big's theme, respectively.

The opening riff of Tails' theme is possibly inspired by Bridge Zone from Sonic 1 GG/MS.

Green Hills Zone makes a small cameo in the chimes of the invincibility jingle.

Mt. Red: A Symbol of Thrill borrows a fragment of its melody from Sonic 2's Mystic Cave 2P.

A number of tunes are related to Sonic 3D's Genesis soundtrack: The opening bassline of Windy and Ripply is pulled from the second boss theme, The Air is an arrangement of Green Grove Act 1, and Twinkle Cart is an arrangement of Panic Puppet Act 1.

The NiGHTS pinball theme is Message From Nightopia, straight off the NiGHTS soundtrack.

Azure Blue World ...for Emerald Coast
Windy and Ripply ...for Emerald Coast
Twinkle Cart ...for Twinkle Park
Run Through the Speed Highway ...for Speed Highway
At Dawn ...for Speed Highway
Theme of CHAO
Dilapidated Way ...for Casinopolis
Mystic Ruin
The Air ...for Windy Valley
Fight For My Own Way
Snowy Mountain ...for Icecap
Be Cool, Be Wild and Be Groovy ...for Icecap
Invincible ...No Fear!
Mt. Red: A Symbol of Thrill ...for Red Mountain
Theme of Tikal
Tricky Maze ...for Lost World
Leading Lights ...for Lost World
Skydeck A Go! Go! ...for Sky Deck
Theme of E-102r
Crazy Robo
Bad Taste Aquarium ...for Hot Shelter
Mechanical Resonance ...for Final Egg
Crank the Heat Up!! ...for Final Egg
It Doesn't Matter (Theme of Sonic)
Believe In Myself (Theme of Tails)
Unknown From M.E. (Theme of Knuckles)
Lazy Days ~ Livin' in Paradise (Theme of Big)
Open Your Heart

Why yes, I am nuts about Sonic Adventure's soundtrack. Thanks for asking.



Sonic Shuffle



Somewhere in Sega, someone got the idea that it would be a good idea to co-develop a cel-shaded Mario Party clone starring the Sonic crew with Hudson Soft (developers of Mario Party). I'll leave whether or not this was a bad idea up to the reader (it was supposed to support online play at least), but the execution was certainly lackluster. Not to mention that the online mode got dropped, leaving the game with no selling points other than its cast and a NiGHTS cameo.

The music isn't bad though. The tracks are almost all the sort of short, peppy themes you'd expect from a party game, but some are pretty catchy. Composed by Hidenobu Otsuki, Ryo Fukuda, Takeo Suzuki, Toshitaka Hirota, and Kazumi Mitome.

Seven Forest (this had to have fallen through a time warp from Pikmin)
Sunny Side
Sombrero
Dreamy Well
Frostbound



Sonic Adventure 2



Immediately after finishing up Sonic Adventure International, Sonic Team USA launched into developing a sequel with the goal of taking the most popular aspects of the original and distilling them into a better, more focused experience. They succeeded at the latter, but the former is up for debate. They derived their inspiration from their surroundings, San Francisco, resulting in a distinct new feel for the series. Released at the end of the Dreamcast's life, Sonic Adventure 2's lifespan would have been fairly short, but ST USA sprung into action and quickly retooled the game in a few months for Nintendo's new Gamecube system, marking the end of an era. For better or worse, the series was introduced to an all new userbase and sold millions.

Senoue once again did the majority of the soundtrack, but Tokoi and Kumatani both contributed a number of tracks as well. New to the series is Tomoya Ohtani, who primarily contributed the tracks (though not the rap) for Knuckles' stages. Don't write him off just yet. No, really. :(

The theme songs of Sonic and Tails have the same names and lyrics as their Sonic Adventure counterparts, but have completely different tunes. Knuckles' theme has an all new rap and backing track, but at least retains the verses from SA1. All three are, in my opinion, completely inferior to the originals. Tony Harnell returns to sing Sonic's theme once again, and Ted Poley collaborates with him on Escape From the City.

E.G.G.M.A.N.'s chorus features the line "I am the Eggman". Sound familiar?

The invincibility, speed shoes, 1up, continue, and chao themes are rearranged from SA1 (and thus Green Hills Zone makes its final appearance to date).

The Green Hill bonus level features, naturally, a remix of the Green Hill Zone theme.

It might just be me, but the opening riff of Escape From the City sounds like it was inspired by Sonic Drift's Green Hill.

Senoue and Gioeli got back together to record Live and Learn and Escape From the City, but since Homma and Shibata were busy touring with Loudness, Katsuji and Takeshi Taneda were brought in to replace them and Crush 40 as we know it today was formed. The Sons of Angels name was dropped because a Norwegian band that had the name first had reunited in the interim between games. To quote Senoue on the new name:

Jun Senoue said:
When we had to find another good one, we picked up the word we like…“Crush” is one of them, and Johnny added the number on it. Crush is the name of the soda too…that's my favorite!"
Event: Let's Make It!
Escape From the City ...for City Escape
The Mad Convoy Race ...for City Escape
That's the Way I Like It ...for Metal Harbor
Won't Stop, Just Go! ...for Green Forest
This Way Out ...for Prison Lane
Rumbling HWY ...for Mission Street
Chasing Drive ...for Kart
On the Edge ...for Eternal Engine
Mr. Unsmiley ...for Sky Rail
Bright Sound ...for Dry Lagoon
I'm a Spy ...for Security Hall
Fly In the Freedom
E.G.G.M.A.N.
Live and Learn

Why no, I'm not nearly as fond of Sonic Adventure 2's soundtrack. Thanks for asking.



Sonic Advance



While SA2:B would mark the first appearance of the franchise on Nintendo consoles, the hedgehog made his Nintendo handheld debut the same day with Sonic Advance. Developed by Dimps, the fellows behind Sonic's last handheld outing, Sonic Pocket Adventure, Advance is an unambitious but relatively competent game that falls in snugly between the Game Gear and Genesis titles as far as quality is concerned.

The soundtrack was handled by Tatsuyuki Maeda and Yutaka Minobe on the Sega side, and Hironobu Inagaki and Atsuyoshi Isemura from Dimps. The Sonic 1 and 2 boss themes, Starlight Zone, Scrap Brain Zone, Sonic 1 invincibility theme, and Emerald Hill 2P all make reappearances in various locations throughout the game, though Masato Nakamura goes uncredited.

The zones and their themes would reappear in Sonic Pinball Party a couple years later alongside NiGHTS and Samba de Amigo themed tables, as well as a smattering of other Sonic Team tunes. You might not expect the GBA to be able to produce a reasonable facsimile of "Open Your Heart". You'd be wrong.

Neo Green Hill Zone Act 1
Ice Mountain Zone Act 1/Act 2
Cosmic Angel Zone
Metal Knuckles Part 2
Special Stage



Sonic Advance 2



The only other Sonic title to make it out between the first two Advance games was Sonic Mega Collection. Advance 2 features the debut of Cream (and shafts Amy to the role of pain-in-the-neck-to-get unlockable), who was designed for Sonic Heroes but turned up here first. Dimps was somewhat more willing to play with the established mechanics, putting a stronger emphasis on grinding and high speeds, to the extent that nearly every boss is chased Mushroom Hill style. Unfortunately, the changes don't actually play very well, and the game ends up alternating between mindless and frustrating with little middle ground.

The sound team is the same as it was for Sonic Advance, but with the addition of Teruhiko Nakagawa on the Sega side.

Leaf Forest Zone Act 1
Hot Crater Zone Act 2
Ice Paradise Zone Act 2



Sonic X



"But Sciz!" you cry. "That's no game! Heck, it isn't a very good show either." Well bugger off, it has good music and an OST release, so I'm covering it.

Sonic X isn't the first Sonic cartoon by any means, but (excepting the OVA) it is the first one not made by DiC. Unfortunately it ran out of good ideas after about ten episodes, was dubbed by 4Kids, and only occasionally featured Sonic as the main character. The series was originally planned to be 26 episodes, but that was doubled to 52 sometime before production started without a significant increase in budget (or so I've read, take that with a grain of salt). It would explain why the second half promptly launched into game adaptations. Or at least what was originally the second half. Apparently it did very well in France, and with additional funding from investors there, the series got another 26 episodes. They're also really weird and had something to do with going into space to fight evil sentient alien plant people, characters dying, and Sonic submitting to darkness. Beats me. Despite being produced in Japan, they have yet to be aired there.

In short, find a sub of the first episode and imagine that the other 77 are like it.

Surprisingly, the Archie comic based on the series tends to be significantly better, though that's mostly for the insanity of events such as: a swarm of chainsaw-wielding dark chao attacking Station Square, a full adaptation of Sonic 1, Eggman attacking Station Square in a giant leprechaun mech seeking gold, Eggman masquerading as a French artist, Eggman masquerading as Santa Claus, Eggman masquerading as Elvis and attacking Las Vegas with a giant slot machine mech and completely failing to attract attention until he demands poker chips, Eggman masquerading as a Mexican wrestler (and enjoying it), and Sonic's classic design showing up as an evil clone.

I am not making this up.

So, uh, yeah, the music. In the regions where it wasn't replaced, it followed the Sonic Adventure format of lots of rock, a little bit of jazz and acoustic guitar, and a couple ethnic tunes for good measure. The second half of the series started using music from Sonic Adventure 2 to boot (including an instance of "Live and Learn").

SONIC DRIVE
Shadow #2
Egg Fort Launch
All Right!!
Mysterious & Sexy Thief Rouge
S-Team #1
Mi-Ra-I
 
Oct 9, 2007
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Sonic Battle



Sonic makes a return to the fighting genre, but in the hands of Sonic Team rather than AM2. Combining high speed arena fighting gameplay, the GBA's limited 3D capabilities, a slight RPG element, and an unusual focus on plot for the series, Sonic Battle doesn't quite play like anything else I can think of. The cast is large and consists of almost every major player in the series since Sonic Adventure (sorry Big), plus newcomer Emerl, ancient Chaos Emerald eating weapon of destruction with a connection to the late Prof. Gerald Robotnik and a penchant for slang. Sprite comic creators were ecstatic. In the end, I suspect it would've found a better home on the consoles with a more fleshed out design, but it's good fun while it lasts.

The soundtrack hearkens back to Sonic Adventure's mix of rock, jazz, and latin, albeit run through the GBA's sound hardware. Tatsuyuki Maeda, Kenichi Tokoi, and Hideaki Kobayashi are credited.

Green Hill Zone's music is remixed for the Green Hill arena.

Emerald Beach
Chao Ruins
Amy's Room
Library
Phi Battle
Final Battle



Sonic Heroes



Sonic Heroes was supposed to be a return to the basics, featuring a cheerful and varied visual asthetic and nothing but classic run from start-to-finish stages. Prerelease hype from the fanbase was high; how could a game featuring nothing but speed stages, a large playable cast (including a revamped Chaotix), the return of special stages, further exposition to flesh out Shadow's story, and Metal Sonic as a major villain go wrong?

I shouldn't have to tell you how badly Sonic Team USA failed at all of those. It turned out to be a decent game (if you disagree, don't tell me), but with some core design flaws that no amount of time and polish would fix.

At least there were some amusing one-liners.

In an interview with Jun Senoue from around the time the game released, he stated that his goal for Heroes was to make the music match the stages better than he had before. The majority of the soundtrack is still rock, but it's a more diverse blend than in either of the Adventure games, and there's a smattering of other genres as well. This can be owed to the extensive list of people who contributed to the soundtrack. Senoue once again does the bulk of the work, but a wide variety of others from Sonic history past and present lent a hand as well:

Naofumi Hataya - Ocean Palace, Mystic Mansion (with Senoue), the team select menu, and the special stage bonus challenge; last seen in Sonic CD (credited in Sonic R, but didn't compose anything for it)
Hideaki Kobayashi - an event and the Metal Madness boss theme; last seen in Sonic Battle
Keiichi Sugiyama - Bingo Highway and the Casino area battle theme; he's new to the series, actually, and not to be confused with Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama.
Teruhiko Nakagawa - 2P City area battle and an event; last seen in Sonic Advance 2
Yutaka Minobe - Lost Jungle and an event; last seen in Sonic Advance 2
Mariko Nanba - two events; last seen in Knuckles' Chaotix
Fumie Kumatani - co-credited with Senoue for the special stage emerald challenge theme; last seen in Sonic Adventure 2
Tomoya Ohtani - Hang Castle; last seen in Sonic Adventure 2

Crush 40 came together again to provide the main theme, "Sonic Heroes", and the final boss theme, "What I'm Made Of". I'm not aware of anyone who actually likes "Sonic Heroes" particularly well, but that hasn't stopped Sega from reusing it on multiple occasions.

Ted Poley and Tony Harnell return to sing Team Sonic's theme, "We Can". Their lyrics embrace the "SUPER POWER OF TEAMWORK" concept behind Heroes without shame and instantly go down as some of the worst in franchise history.

Julien-K, newly formed side project of Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck, provides Team Dark's theme, "This Machine". It is well received.

System Screen: Select (give it some time to kick in)
Seaside Hill
Ocean Palace
Grand Metropolis
Battle: City Area/Beta version
Frog Forest
Hang Castle
Mystic Mansion
Boss: Egg Emperor
This Machine
Follow Me
Team Chaotix
What I'm Made Of



Sonic Advance 3



After a year off, Sonic returns to 2D platforming with the final entry in the Advance series, again by Dimps. Oddly enough, the game is a direct sequel to Sonic Battle, though that doesn't mean too much as it has all the narrative depth of Sonic 2. Returning from Knuckles' Chaotix (sans elastic band) is the ability to partner up any two characters out of the cast of five to provide a degree of moveset customization. This is largely useless as the partner AI is rarely able to keep up, and it won't take long before you figure out which pairs are completely broken and dominate the rest. Advance 3 also features map stages that serve a similar purpose as the adventure fields of Sonic Adventure, but end up being more frustrating than fun.

The soundtrack is easily the best of the three Advance games, however, credited to Tatsuyuki Maeda, Kenichi Tokoi, Hideaki Kobayashi, Masaru Setsumaru, Fumie Kumatani, and Tomoya Ohtani. It frequently sounds similar to Sonic Battle, but just as often has a sound all its own (or in the case of Chaos Angel, seems to be channeling Castlevania).

The opening of Cyber Track Act 1 follows the same chord progression as Techno Base from Sonic Advance 2.

Sunset Hill's music and visual asthetic is a remix of Green Hill Zone.

The Ex-Boss music is a remix of Phi Battle from Sonic Battle. Appropriate, given the foe.

Route 99 Act 1
Sunset Hill Act 3
Twinkle Snow Act 1
Chaos Angel Act 1/Act 3
Ex-Boss
Ex-Demo 2
Staff Roll
Special Stage



Sonic Rush



Maybe the fifth time is the charm. Dimps' next shot at the series moved to the new DS hardware, cut the playable cast down to two, and featured considerably more polished gameplay mechanics than their previous attempts. The result was the freshest game in the series in years, though opinions were split as always.

Ok, so this is probably a good runner up for the title of "most divisive soundtrack" from the series. The original E3 demo of the game featured music by Teruhiko Nakagawa similar to that of the Advance titles, but somewhere along the line Sega turned to Hideki Naganuma of Jet Set Radio fame to produce the soundtrack instead. Naganuma came up with a love-it-or-hate-it soundtrack that defies classification and is wildly different from anything else in the series. Nakagawa's role was reduced to rearranging Naganuma's tunes for Blaze's levels. Only a fragment of his original music survived to the final soundtrack, though he did retain the position of sound director.

Seven of the tracks were rearranged once again for the official soundtrack release, bringing their quality well above what the DS could produce.

Back 2 Back borrows its main riff from "Louie Louie".

Rush also makes extensive use of samples, like Sonic CD before it. What U Need pulls its "hot hot hot" from Alphonsus Cassell's Hot Hot Hot. And I imagine a lot of you caught this before, but yes, twelve years after the fact, the series samples Bring the Noise again for Wrapped In Black. Also, Wrapped In Black's fiddle is based on some public domain song (possibly a Swedish folk tune), though I'm yet to find out what, exactly. You can hear the same melody in Grandia.

Right There, Ride On
Ska Cha Cha
Back 2 Back
What U Need
Metal Scratchin'
Bomber Barbara
Wrapped In Black (WRAPPED IN BLA-IN BLA-IN BLACK, WRAPPED IN BLACK,
wrapped in black
)



Shadow the Hedgehog



Sonic Team USA's next effort owes its origins in part to a Sega-run poll asking, among other things, which character from the series should get his or her own spinoff. For the record, I voted Eggman, whose choice I believe had something to do with world domination.

A near-complete 180 from Heroes, Shadow's game eschews the classic asthetic and utter lack of plot in favor of a grittier, darker world and a story that aimed to tie up the loose ends around his backstory once and for all. They also decided to shoot for an older audience and a T rating from the ESRB, leading to now-infamous lines such as "Where's that DAMN fourth Chaos Emerald?". But near the end of development the ESRB introduced the E10+ rating, and the team hastily cut some of the cursing to get the lower rating.

In Shadow's defense (and if you want to tell me how wrong you think I am, leave it for a PM), I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the idea of a high speed third person shooter/platformer, and cutting the cast down to a single playable character was a good move (ok, plus several more for co-op, but those don't count). Then again, there wasn't anything wrong with the idea of chaining two characters together with an elastic band either. Knuckles' Chaotix and Shadow share more or less the same problem of having more ambition than the teams making them had time and talent. Admittedly, Shadow suffers from the additional problem of trying to pander to two seperate target audiences at the same time (and doesn't have the excuse of being bumped from platform to platform).

The soundtrack is a mixed bag, consisting of Sonic Adventure 2 inspired rock, Sonic Heroes-esque electronica, some fairly laid back jazz tracks, and several of the unexpected piano and orchestral pieces that had been working their way into the series since Sonic Adventure. Jun Senoue remains the sound director and lead composer, with Yutaka Minobe as the main secondary composer. Tomoya Ohtani, Mariko Nanba, Lee Brotherton, and Keiichi Sugiyama contributed or collaborated on additional tracks.

Crush 40 once again performed two tracks, "I Am... All Of Me" and "Never Turn Back", the latter of which is wildly underrated. The piano intro to "Never Turn Back" is actually a slowed down version of "I Am"'s chorus. Fan favorite Julien-K returns to contribute "Waking Up", which is once again one of the better songs out of the soundtrack.

As the game is primarily a followup to SA2, several of the music tracks are remixed from it as well. Lee Brotherton of REMIX Factory remixed "GUN Mobile" for the Blue Falcon and Heavy Dog boss themes, and E.G.G.M.A.N. for Eggman's appearances. "Highway In the Sky... for Final Rush" reappears as the theme for The ARK. Likewise, "Vengence is Mine... for Radical Highway" returns as the 2P Battle theme. "Event: Strategy" is identical to its SA2 counterpart. "Event: Recollection of the ARK" is pulled from "Event: 3 Black Noises". And finally, "Event: Super Shadow" segues into the main riff of "Live and Learn" halfway through.

On the subject of sound, Shadow is the first game in the series (Rush aside) to use 4Kids' Sonic X dub cast for the English voice acting. The new crew is, on average, as bad as the old one, but that hasn't deterred part of the fanbase from griping about it endlessly for three years straight. The complaining was so loud and persistant that Sega of America president Simon Jeffery finally commented in an interview that SoA has nothing to do with the voice acting. Regardless, you can still find people on the forums for any given upcoming Sonic game expressing their hopes that the original cast will return. This is usually followed by someone who (sarcastically or genuinely) expresses a preference for Jaleel White, at which point the whole topic invariably goes to hell.

Circus Park
Prison Island
Boss: Black Doom
Lost Impact
Boss: Heavy Dog
Ending: Sad
Black Comet
Final Haunt
I Am... All Of Me
Waking Up
E.G.G.M.A.N. Doc Robeatnix Mix
All Hail Shadow
Never Turn Back



Sonic Riders



While Sonic Team USA was busy with Shadow and Sonic Team was busy with Sonic the Hedgehog, the United Game Artists staff who had been merged into Sonic Team a few years prior were busy with Sonic Riders. Those looking for a better control scheme than Sonic R should keep looking, as Riders' controls manage to be just as unintuitive. If you can get a handle on them, then Riders is a pretty fun game to time attack (much like Sonic R). Beyond that, all the game really does is raise the question of why Sonic is faster on a hoverboard than he is on foot. Fans of Ulala, AiAi, and NiGHTS might want to take a look anyway to check out their playable cameos, and there's a nifty Sega tribute stage. This is also the first game since Sonic R that lets you play as Super Sonic through all of the stages at will. Unfortunately, he's not worth using because of his drug-like consumption of rings.

The music was mostly handled by Fumie Kumatani and Tomonori Sawada, with a couple of tracks by Kenichi Tokoi. Sega turned to rock band Runblebee for the game's two vocal tracks, "Sonic Speed Riders" and "Catch Me If You Can". Suffice it to say, they aren't Crush 40.

Theme of Metal City
Theme of Babylonian
Theme of Green Cave
Theme of Digital Dimension
Theme of SEGA Carnival



Sonic the Hedgehog



Fifteen years after the original Sonic the Hedgehog comes, well, Sonic the Hedgehog, named in honor of the original. Having taken a break from the series after Sonic Adventure, Sonic Team finally returned for another go at it for next gen consoles. There's an interview somewhere in which one of the game's designers stated that the goal was to return to the sense of speed of the original Genesis classic. Another interview stated that the game's design was based around the idea of "what if Sonic existed in the real world?". Both of them seem to be ignoring the facts that the series had gotten faster than ever before in recent years, and that Sonic had been schmoozing around with humans for nearly a decade.

Sonic '06 is structurally close to the original Sonic Adventure, featuring various adventure fields, distinct but interweaving character paths, and a variety of items to upgrade the abilities of the characters. The plot is...well, let's just say it did everyone a favor by writing itself out of the timeline. The game's biggest problem is that it just isn't finished; the list of planned features that didn't make it to the final product is depressingly lengthy. Even worse, most of the content that did make it in is either buggy or at least quite unpolished. It certainly didn't help that series veteran Yuji Naka left partway through development (to found Prope, which is currently developing Let's Tap, Let's Catch, and a character-based action title "like Sonic"), or that Sonic Team's staff was split between Sonic '06 and Sonic and the Secret Rings. The game still didn't completely bomb at retail, but badly underperformed given the development cost and the performance of previous entries in the series.

On the other hand, the soundtrack is excellent. Jun Senoue is nearly nowhere to be seen (his official word being that he only had time to work on either Shadow or Sonic), and with him went most of the rock. There's a good mix of instruments and genres, but the predominant ones are actually string instruments and piano. There's a nice accordion piece as well. Hideaki Kobayashi, Mariko Nanba, and Tomoya Ohtani finally step up into the spotlight and handle most of the soundtrack, with a handful of events credited to "tai-hey" and two more to Takahito Eguchi.

The vocal songs are a mix of talent both new and old. Ali Tabatabaee and Matty Lewis of Zebrahead provide the vocals for the main theme, "His World", and the entire band covers the song on the game's vocal album. In spite of fan speculation, Crush 40 makes a surprise appearance after all by covering Magna-Fi's "All Hail Shadow" (from Shadow the Hedgehog), as well as providing a cover of "His World" for the vocal album. Lee Brotherton both helps compose and sings Silver's theme, "Dreams of An Absolution", which is one of the best vocal tracks in the series (again, your mileage may vary). Senoue teams up with him to remix it for the vocal album. Easily the most bizarre addition to the soundtrack is hip-hop artist Akon's remix of "Sweet Sweet Sweet" (and its English counterpart). Yes, the Dreams Come True song. I believe it's used for Sonic's credits. Spare yourself and listen to the original instead.

This is officially said to be coincidental, but "Dreams Of An Absolution" has a segment that sounds similar to Green Hill Zone. A more striking similarity, which Lee Brotherton claims ignorance of, is with the intro of Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl pulls its version of the mission complete jingle straight from this game. It also used one of the instrumental versions of "His World", which are almost universally considered better than any of the vocal variations.

Wave Ocean ~The Water's Edge~
Wave Ocean ~The Inlet~
Soleanna Castle Town
Dusty Desert ~Quicksand~
Kingdom Valley ~Wind~
Theme of Sonic the Hedgehog ~2006 E3 Version~
Accordion Song
White Acropolis ~The Base~
Soleanna Forest
Flame Core ~Volcano~
Flame Core ~The Cavern~
Soleanna New City
Radical Train ~The Chase~
Aquatic Base ~Level 2~
Boss ~ Mephiles Phase 2 (wonderfully eerie)
Result
Extras
Crisis City ~The Flame~
Event ~ Is It Right...?
Boss ~ Solaris Phase 2
Event ~ Parade: Past Memories
His World (Instrumental)
Dreams Of An Absolution

(if this list seems unorganized, it's because songs are listed in the order they appear on the soundtrack, vocal tracks aside)

Topic continues here
 
Jun 3, 2005
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#5
This is a neat thread. Why did you leave out the music to Sonic 2's Oil Ocean? That song is awesome.

Not really related, but I wish we could get a good 3D Sonic game. I miss liking Sonic. :(

Also, the Sega Saturn release of Sonic 3D Blast has some excellent music. Richard Jacques is the shit.
 
Jul 23, 2005
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#11
Holy crap, someone's got a little bit of free time on their hands!

Twinkle Park and Windy Hill are excellent tracks from SA1. And pretty much the entire Sonic 1 soundtrack is gold.
 

dark10x

Digital Foundry pixel pusher
Jun 9, 2004
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#16
Wow, I'm about to start reading, but I wanted to comment on the amount of effort put into this. Looks like an awesome post. As a huge Sonic fan, I've probably already heard everything here, but I love going back over it. :p
 
Jan 17, 2007
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#17
Where is the Robotnik boss music from Sonic 2? The one that plays at the end of every level when you have to kill the different Robotnik bosses?

That song fucking rocks.

Awesome thread!
 
Oct 9, 2007
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#18
Pureauthor said:
Awesome, awesome thread.

No fair completely upstaging mine. :p
If it makes you feel any better, it was easily the biggest inspiration for this. The extra stuff is only there because I'm an obsessed maniac.

Vorador said:
Incredible compilation work. :D

But even with your great work you missed at least Sonic Labyrinth for Game Gear (although you didn't lose much missing it if i remember well, nothing special about the OST)
Labyrinth is one of those that I couldn't find the music for, and I don't honestly care enough about it to spend too much time looking.
 
Jul 23, 2005
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#23
Every time I read about DCT's involvement, I'm happily surprised (even though I've read this tidbit of info many times over the years). It's one of those details that is really cool, yet never sticks in my mind. Maybe after this thread, it will.
 
Jul 23, 2006
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Spain
www.fajar2.deviantart.com
#24
Fuck, this thread is epic.

I'm learning to play "Sandopolis Zone 1" from S&K on my guitar right now (loving that tune), and I already know how to play "StarLight Zone" from Sonic 1 (it's pretty easy).

I had this guitar since last summer, and playing videogame music (which is usually easier to follow in its 8/16 bits incarnations, because of the limitations on the hardware) it's helping me A LOT.
 
Dec 28, 2005
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#26
GOOD GOD SCIZ AMAZING THREAD!!!!!! you've rekindled my love for the music in Sonic3 and SonicR!!!!!! (I've always found the basslines in SonicR's Diamond In the Sky perfect for a house song, oh and I thought that the Super Sonic Racing track rocked so hard, i used part of it for my then-windows98 startup jingle...cos i'm obsessed like that. :lol )
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
Dec 5, 2005
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#29
One thing that always amazes me is that Sonic 3 has its finger on the pulse of hip-hop 1994. The competition menu screen is basically g-funk. It makes me think that the Michael Jackson's producers really were involved.
 

dark10x

Digital Foundry pixel pusher
Jun 9, 2004
51,320
622
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#30
Wow, you really covered everything.

Most of that stuff is catchy in one way or another with only the GBA soundtracks standing out as crap (never cared for any of the music).

Sonic 2 was definately my favorite among the Genesis games. Sonic CD EU/JP was my preferred Sonic CD mix (though the US soundtrack was solid as well). I believe some of the JP songs made their way into the US version, though, as some of the songs were actually chip music (rather than redbook). The chip music is the same for all versions. The PC version actually included the chip music as redbook audio, however, as it could not process the music as the SegaCD could.

Knuckles Chaotix definately had a good soundtrack, but the sound quality was somehow reduced in comparison to the Genesis titles (never understood why). Game sucks too.

Sonic Adventure was certainly a major soundtrack for the series and featured a lot of fantastic music. SA2 was pretty good as well. I'm a sucker for the cheesy Crush 40 tunes, I must admit. :p

I'm glad you gave the "Sonic 2006" soundtrack a fair shake too. The game was so broken, but the music was actually really good.

One thing that always amazes me is that Sonic 3 has its finger on the pulse of hip-hop 1994. The competition menu screen is basically g-funk. It makes me think that the Michael Jackson's producers really were involved.
That's remained a theory for years now. I'm also convinced that whatever work they did on the game remained in tact even when Sega parted ways with them.

One interesting thing about Sonic 3K is the fact that the PC version (which uses MIDI) actually features different songs in place of all the supposed MJ tracks. The new songs were utter crap, though, and all of the MIDI sounded awful next to the Genesis games.

I was uncertain if their removal was due to the fact that the Genesis tracks used sampling and PC MIDI wasn't up to the task...or if there were other reasons behind it.

edit - Wow, this was even mentioned in the first post. The OP literally nailed just about everything. Fantastic effort.
 
Jun 3, 2005
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#33
Great thread, will subscribe it just to have it at hand if I ever need some info on Sonic games (and it's music).

A song I really love is the bonus stage song for Sonic Rush (a new day). I like the music of Sonic Rush in general, of course I liked JSR...

I haven't played some of the later Sonic games (except Rings) after Sonic Adventure 2, but to me nothing matches the style of the old 16-bit Sonic games - yeah nostalgia is a bitch, I know.
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
Dec 5, 2005
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#35
I still NEED a copy of the Japanese Sonic CD someday... That soundtrack is amazing.

dark10x said:
One interesting thing about Sonic 3K is the fact that the PC version (which uses MIDI) actually features different songs in place of all the supposed MJ tracks. The new songs were utter crap, though, and all of the MIDI sounded awful next to the Genesis games.

I was uncertain if their removal was due to the fact that the Genesis tracks used sampling and PC MIDI wasn't up to the task...or if there were other reasons behind it.
Yeah I have a 3-pack of some of the PC Sonic ports. The replacement MIDI tracks are really, really bad.
 

dark10x

Digital Foundry pixel pusher
Jun 9, 2004
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#37
There is one Sonic album that is missing here, however, and perhaps someone can help me identify it.

http://www.vgmusic.info/Album.php?id=885&page=S

I have heard this, and it's quite catchy, but I have no clue as to where it originates from. Sonic Arcade? It sounds nothing like the Sonic Arcade games I know of (SegaSonic, Sonic the Fighters, and the Genesis player Sonic title).

Here's a sample (not one of the best tracks)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-uM0bdiFbQ

Any ideas? Perhaps that Sonic amusement park ride or something?

BocoDragon said:
I still NEED a copy of the Japanese Sonic CD someday... That soundtrack is amazing.
Do you have a US copy of the game for Sega CD? Sega CD games did not use copy protection and the game can easily be copied. What that means, of course, is that you can actually insert the Japanese soundtrack into the US version of the game and re-burn it. It will work on both a real Sega CD as well as any PC emulator. Of course, many PC emulators actually support MP3 files for Sega CD making it even easier.

This also means that you can experiment with other tracks and create a custom Sonic CD soundtrack. :p

I've had plenty of fun with this in the past.

Now, if you only have the PC version, ditch it immediately and find the Sega CD version (somehow). The PC version sucks in comparison, if you ask me. Aside from its technical issues, they added ugly ass loading screens between each transition (also present in the Gems collection). The original SCD version had no loading screens and felt much more like a cart game in that regard.
 
Jul 7, 2004
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#38
The 'Green Hills' Zone from the MS/GG version of Sonic 2 is probably my favorite Sonic track ever. I just love that 'Toot Toot, Sonic Warrior' tune(though, the version from Sonic CD with vocals is quite good, too.)

It just feels like Sonic music should.
 
Mar 10, 2007
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#42
This kind of thread is why I come to GAF.

Sonic 1's Eggman theme and Sonic Rush's "It's a New Day" are some Sonic songs I like that you haven't mentioned.

Heh, about the "Louie Louie" thing.
 
Oct 9, 2007
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#45
BocoDragon said:
One thing that always amazes me is that Sonic 3 has its finger on the pulse of hip-hop 1994. The competition menu screen is basically g-funk. It makes me think that the Michael Jackson's producers really were involved.
They were. Jackson isn't in the credits, but all of his sound guys from that time are. You can go through the credits and look most of them up on Wikipedia.

dark10x said:
Sonic CD EU/JP was my preferred Sonic CD mix (though the US soundtrack was solid as well). I believe some of the JP songs made their way into the US version, though, as some of the songs were actually chip music (rather than redbook). The chip music is the same for all versions. The PC version actually included the chip music as redbook audio, however, as it could not process the music as the SegaCD could.
Right. The past time zone tunes are all in the game as PCM audio, and Sega of America either couldn't or didn't bother going into the game data to change them.

dark10x said:
There is one Sonic album that is missing here, however, and perhaps someone can help me identify it.

http://www.vgmusic.info/Album.php?id=885&page=S

I have heard this, and it's quite catchy, but I have no clue as to where it originates from. Sonic Arcade? It sounds nothing like the Sonic Arcade games I know of (SegaSonic, Sonic the Fighters, and the Genesis player Sonic title).

Here's a sample (not one of the best tracks)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-uM0bdiFbQ

Any ideas? Perhaps that Sonic amusement park ride or something?
I believe that's a German album, not from any particular game or attraction. It might also be unlicensed, but it's been a while since I've looked it up.
 
#46
Thanks for this thread!

Personally, I always loved the first part of Sonic Adventure's windy level's music. So happy and lovely.

Sonic music has always been my favourite gaming music, and I just wish the games themselves had remained as good as the music.

I love the Sonic R music too. I want more of this cheery Jpop, less of the modern Sonic Rock.