Soundtrack collectors have had their pockets rinsed dry over the last year with the release of a whole plethora of Sonic albums to sate the appetites of those looking for the sounds of the old and new.
It’s only suiting that a celebration of twenty years of Sonic has substantial representation from the music that accompanied it, and I’m sure if you’ve played Sonic Generations you will have thoroughly enjoyed the bombardment of familiar tunes that come with a convolution of something new.
Like many big title soundtracks of recent, the physical release of the Sonic Generations Official Soundtrack: Blue Blur comes stuffed onto three separate CDs containing the bulk of tunes featured on both the Xbox 360 / PS3 release of the game along with the DS songs as well. In fact, the first two discs comprise mainly of the main stage themes, to give some idea of the amount of material that has been revamped for the game.
Hataya and Senoue take the reins on the re-arrangements for the early nineties, handling classic and modern Sonics stages respectfully; Hataya carefully rejuvenates the 16-bit classics as far as percussion, leaving the familiarity of the rhythm and melodies as they were, while Senoue re-energises act 2, drawing upon his trademark bass lies and ska-punk elements where appropriate. Conversely the act 2 tunes become the familiar realm for the adventure era-tracks, maintaining on the most part their original sounds with the exception of City Escape which adopts new vocals and verses from Ted Poley and Tony Harnell. The classic Sonic tracks for this period see some substantial reworking, taking on a mesmerising, pounding beat and some dazzling synthesiser voices that add a new layer of depth while retaining the originality. Most notably with the City Escape, Speed Highway and Radical Highway tracks, Cash Cash’s signature touch refresh to an astounding level, and in many cases fans will find preference with these re-workings over the originals. Even with the modern era stages which have only aged a few years see their themes remastered by their original composers, who have lovingly restored their tracks at two different paces for both acts.
What really brings this soundtrack to life personally are the little extras that are hidden away – the Endless Mine (Sonic the Hedgehog 3) melody snuck into Escape from the City, to menu tunes reprising their past counterparts. Amongst the gems of this soundtrack are the Circuit Freq Shadow tracks that recapture the dark vibes of Sonic Adventure 2, and the disgustingly awesome synth-pop rock delivered by Cash Cash with the Big Arms and Super Sonic Racing tracks. Not only this, but the composers have pandered to pedants like myself to bestow two versions of the Metal Sonic rival battle track for fans of the Japanese and US soundtracks.
Unfortunately the sheer quantity of content produced from this game has meant that not everything could feature on this compilation, and much is lost from this collection. Amongst those themes discarded from the soundtrack are several of the unlockable tracks, and the wonderful white-space stage themes (including that fantastic ‘jazz flute’ Chemical Plant Zone track) just aren’t long enough…even if they are only looped in the game and come around a second time in the White Space Medley.
The price tag for this three-disc dose of Sonic is not small, weighing in at 4200 yen. If you’re serious about your Sonical music however, this is definitely the best pick as far as new content goes, and is definitely the pick out of the releases of the last year. [5/5]
Price: ¥4200 (£32 / $50)
As well as the release of this soundtrack, we’ve also included a guide to the other soundtracks that have become available to purchase, along with a review of what we recommend!
Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2 Official Soundtrack (Masato Nakamura)
It’s hard to believe the latency between the release of Sonic the Hedgehog for the genesis and the official publication of what is probably one of the most well-known videogame soundtracks of all time. So here, twenty years after Sonic first hit the shelves, Nakamura-san has collated the sounds to the first two instalments of Sonic the Hedgehog into one CD collection. While this might not seem like a fantastic purchase to many as rips of those tracks permeate the internet, the package contains a whole boat load of extras. A second disc contains a complete set of the demo versions of each of the songs on the first disc, excavated and re-mastered especially for this release. While to the less discerning fan many of these tracks sound like the original tunes run through a different soundcard, many of the demos give an insight into the original composition and in many cases sound like they have been lifted straight from a Dreams Come True album. The tempo, which is notably slower in many of the later tracks, gives some of the themes a very different ambience. A third disc also includes original versions of SWEET SWEET SWEET, the song reprised for the ending theme of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in addition to the AKON mixes from Sonic ’06…which, let’s face it, isn’t a big selling point, but are a cool little extra to complete the set.
Although this is a fun album with some interesting material notes, it will likely only garner limited appeal from perhaps only those of you who are really enthusiastic about the retro soundtracks. [4/5]
Price: ¥3500 (£27 / $43)
Sonic the Hedgehog CD Original Soundtrack 20th Anniversary Edition
Many fans harbour a bias towards a version of the Sonic the Hedgehog CD soundtrack they prefer; in most cases (including my own) this is probably down to whichever you have had increased exposure to as a youngster. Whatever your inclination, I implore you to give the converse soundtrack a thorough listening to as they greatly alter the atmosphere of the game [thanks to the wizardry of Christian Whitehead, you can do that in the downloadable version of CD – if you haven’t bought it yet, why not?]. Although the US counterpart soundtrack made it to print at time of release of the game, the Japanese / EU version has not been available to now. Although this soundtrack contains the songs to the game which have been easily accessible for the best part of two decades, it does include some new content in the form of Crush 40’s version of Sonic Boom (the original US version), and a C40 vs. Cash Cash Stardust Speedway track. While possibly not a motivating reason to part with your cash, this is definitely one of the most defining soundtracks out there, released at a time when the we’re once again reminded what an awesome title it was…especially for the music from both the east and the west. [4.5/5]
Price: ¥3500 (£19 / $29)
iTunes download £7.99 / $9.99
History of Sonic: 20th Anniversary Edition
While it’s pretty hard to come by most of the physical releases containing earlier recorded Sonic tracks, SEGA have been kind enough to re-release a lot of material in the form of compilations. Although this is ideal for those new to collecting soundtracks, only a few years have passed since the release of True Blue and True Colours – two other compilations of “best of” tracks. Having said that this package does have its merits; True blue and True Colours focus heavily on Sonic and support character themes while History contains a wider selection of the more memorable instrumental tunes – it even includes a Knuckles Chaotix track in the form of Midnight Garden, the first track from this title to feature on a soundtrack CD. A great purchase for those looking for a roundup of 20 years, but if you’re a big soundtrack collector, there’s nothing new here for you. [3/5]
Price: ¥3500 (£27 / $43)
Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 & Sonic Heroes: 20th Anniversary Editions
Many fans will no doubt be pleased to see the availability of the Sonic Adventure soundtracks for a reasonable price, rather than having to fork out ever-increasing quantities of money for the now extremely rare original prints of the Adventure series OSTs (and are even cheaper via iTunes download). Each of these soundtracks comes with a handpicked selection of favourite tracks, digitally brushed up to sound their best. The downside of these Adventure soundtracks is that this selectivity, and again limitations on space have meant that many of the jewels of these games have failed to make it onto the roster. Those hoping for a collection of all of the character themes will be disappointed with these releases. Furthermore, many will fail to see the appeal of purchasing the Sonic Heroes 20th anniversary edition soundtrack with both the Complete Trinity double set and the Triple Threat vocal album being still widely available. Sonic Adventure Original Soundtrack: 20th Anniversary Edition [3.5/5], Sonic Adventure 2 Original Soundtrack: 20th Anniversary Edition [3.5/5], Sonic Heroes Original Soundtrack: 20th Anniversary Edition [2.5/5]
Price: ¥3500 (£19 / $29) each
iTunes download £7.99 / $9.99 each
All of the above soundtracks are still available for purchase from Play-asia.com.
Purchase any of these soundtracks? Give us your two cents in the comments!