Stage Theme Concept: Be Cool, Be Wild, Be Interactive?

Interactive music in games has been around for a while – Street Fighter 3 Third Strike was transitioning smoothly between its theme variations over ten years ago, the original version of Phantasy Star Online back in ’01 was not-so-smoothly moving to and from its battle themes, and even Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake way back in 1990 was using groundbreaking music transitions in its alert mode.

With the launch of this generation’s consoles came the real rise of middleware – generic software that runs in the background of a game doing a specific task. The Havok physics engine is probably the best-known example, but among them there are those that work with audio in real time. This audio middleware is now used in many games, particularly those with cinematic soundtracks such as the Call of Duty series, to immerse you more than ever in the game by having the music seamlessly fit the action.

In recent Sonic games like Sonic Unleashed and of course Sonic Generations, Sonic Team have been experimenting with this kind of thing themselves. They seem to like high-pass filters a bit too much, but that’s besides the point. They’ve never taken to actually chopping up their themes to fit specific events though.


So that’s what Falk over at Sonic Retro decided to do for a college assignment in advanced video game scoring. Given the task of taking an existing game sequence, composing new music for it, and using Wwise to make it work interactively with the gameplay, he picked Sonic Unleashed’s lively Rooftop Run sequence, and gave it a whole new lick of paint.

Falk talks about the project in a topic over at Sonic Retro.

Source: Sonic Retro: “Advanced Scoring for Sonic Games”

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Ian, aka "bmn", is the guy that keeps TSS up and running. If something goes wrong, you know who to blame call.


  1. Camelot castle from SatBK did something like this. If you reach certain areas within the longer version of the level it will change mood. You can find all of the portions within the Camelot castle track in the OST. However I think that the changing music clips within the hub world of Generations would be a good example. In the end, Sega needs to drop the airplane-sounding “lol look at me run” stuff and emphasize on what the Son

    1. Camelot Castle didn’t do that, that was just how the music was made. Doesn’t change or anything

      I loved that Country part though, it was awesome :3

      1. It didn’t transition well, I admit that much. However, within the level the music changed *under certain parameters*, which does count as an element of music interactivity. If you pay close attention to certain areas where the music could possibly change it is noticable

  2. Ok I had to comment on this because I wanted this in Generations sooooo bad. I knew it would’nt be likely but now that I’ve played it, this would have worked so well many levels. Expecially Crisis City because the tense violin part of the song always plays right BEFORE the last 3d section.

  3. One very important and popular series that nobody is mentioning does this type of music too- Zelda. It started in Ocarina of Time, which was way back in 1998.

    1. The Wind Waker also had some examples of interactive music. The common battle song, for example, had an instrument added with each blow you hit. As the battle went on, the music got more and more complete. The song that played while sailing also presented changes according to the moment.

      In Twilight Princess, the Hylianische Steppe Theme (or something like that) also changed. If you were riding Epona, that song would enter a different section, that doesn’t play while you’re simply walking.

      In Sonic Heroes, Mystic Mansion theme got locked in the same section while you were locked in the same portion of the stage. The song only advanced when you moved on.

      I just think this is so interesting! That was a great job on Rooftop Run! I specially liked the key change! I’m always alert to spot examples of this kind of music inside the games. Of course I jumped in joy when I heard the boosting version of Green Hill in Generations. And I was bit letdown to realize that only Green Hill and Sky Sanctuary have the boost version. It was such a good idea!

    1. On the forum somebody edited a vid with that music of a Generations rooftop run play through with the music, if that is what you’re looking for

  4. Funny how nobody here mentioned Mystic Mansion … if you look at the game files, there are (IIRC) four music files for Mystic Mansion, and each is sampled depending on where in the level you are. Much less impressive than this, though … major kudos on your part! This is win!

  5. SSX3 did this exact same thing to a tee, pretty much. If you bailed you got no vocals or something, and you had to do well in order to get the full music back.

  6. Excellent idea, plus its true every element of a game requires composition shifts depending on the interaction. Curious if those said music shifts were meant to be implemented. And if so, I wonder why they held back such an idea. And yes, I recall that data being found in regards to Heroes in-game OST with Mystic Mansion. If every stage had that element that could be tapped into, we would have quite a different soundtrack every time we played.

    We know its possible, its just waiting to be used as an element of design. If its on the disc, it should be used!

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