A defining element of the Sonic the Hedgehog series is the superb soundtrack that has accompanied our favourite characters across 30 year’s worth of adventures. Here’s the top 10 of what our resident music maniac T-Bird considers the best of three decades of music featured in the Sonic Universe!
10. Sonic R
Often dismissed as cheesy (but come on folks, Sonic is often super cheesy), the Sonic R soundtrack is the first entry on my list. While not everyone’s cup of tea, very few Sonic series soundtracks come close to being anywhere near as upbeat at this first foray by Sonic into a more contemporary sound, drawing from late 90s dance and Eurobeat. Authored by the one-and-only veteran composer Richard Jacques and embellished with vocals provided by TJ Davis (previously of D:Ream and Gary Numan) Sonic R is packed with plenty of guilty pleasures – not that there should be any guilt of course! We think Sonic R has a solid-gold track listing, and we will always sing Can You Feel The Sunshine at Karaoke, given the chance!
Highlights: Can You Feel the Sunshine?, Living In The City, Number One.
9. Sonic Heroes
Follow in on the coat tails of the Sonic Adventure series, the Sonic Heroes soundtrack continued the tradition of maintaining a thematic landscape, heavily drawing on the rock sound that worked so well for the last two titles. Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue once again utilises his links to the world of melodic rock to recruit the vocal talents of Ted Poley (Danger Danger) and Tony Harnell (TNT) for We Can, in addition to two belting themes from Crush 40. Employing industrial electronic act Julien-K to provide an angsty theme to Shadow the Hedgehog’s team in the form of This Machine is perfect. There are far too many great stage themes to list in this game, but the fact that Wave Ocean and Bingo Highway have seen so many reworks and remixes since 2003 is testament to the enduring nature of this soundtrack!
Highlights: What I’m Made Of, This Machine, Wave Ocean
8. Sonic Rush
A unique entry to this list are the funky tones of the Sonic Rush soundtrack. Lead by the rather eccentric Hideki Naganuma (if you don’t believe me check out his Twitter), the genius behind the unforgettable Jet Set Radio soundtracks, provides an infusion of funk, soul, drum and bass, and a mountain of samples from every corner of the music industry. Naganuma’s approach delivers something that is seldom replicated anywhere else, and will leave anyone earworms for days to come. From the happy-go-lucky Back 2 Back to the darker tones of Wrapped in Black for the final boss, you won’t believe that something so powerful can output from a DS.
Highlights: What U Need, A New Day, Wrapped In Black
7. Sonic Unleashed / World Adventure
In a tonal shift from most other Sonic titles, sound director Tomoya Ohtani elected to take the soundtrack to Sonic Unleashed down a more orchestral avenue, to reflect the more cinematic qualities of the game, the environment, and the exploratory nature of the game’s hub worlds. What is delivered is a grandiose performance from the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, interjected with fast-paced and floaty drum and bass day tracks, and the cool jazz strings and flutes for night stages, more often than not arranged by an unsung hero of Sonic sounds, Fumie Kumatani. Although the Werehog battle theme finds itself being overused, its hard not to adore this soundtrack for its variety.
Highlights: Apotos Day, The World Adventure, Cool Edge
6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive / Genesis)
It doesn’t get much more definitive than the theme to Emerald Hill Zone (with the exception of Green Hill of course) and as such Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s soundtrack ranks high in this list. Composed by Dreams Come True superstar Masato Nakamura, the music collection featured on the title is one of the most definitive to have featured on the Mega Drive / Genesis, exploiting the full range of channels available to deliver a soundtrack with depth and character, with catchy hooks and brilliant basslines. The game concludes with a rendition of DCT’s Sweet Sweet Sweet, to bring the feels as you save the planet once again.
Highlights: Emerald Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Mystic Cave Zone
5. Team Sonic Racing
The most recent entry into this list is the soundtrack to Team Sonic Racing, another titled directed by Senoue-san. Not only is TSR packed with rearrangements and mash-up tracks from previous Sonic games, The SONIC ADVENTURE MUSIC EXPERIENCE, including long-time Crush 40 session bassist Takeshi Taneda and Crush 40 percussionist Akht, drive the heart of this assembly of octane-fuelled compositions, with a massive supporting cast including TORIENA, Hyper Potions, Tee Lopes, and Tyler Smyth (Dangerkids). As such, Senoue and company have delivered what is definitely one of the high-water marks in Sonic the Hedgehog music of the modern era.
Highlights: Ocean View Lap Music, Frozen Junkyard Lap Music, Boo’s House Lap Music
4. Sonic CD
I am going to have to cheat here in that this entry is a two-for-one and include both the American and Japanese soundtracks here (controversial, I know..and not the only time I will cheat either!) for quite different reasons. Naofumi Hataya and Masufumi Ogata’s masterful works are lined with J-Pop sounds, that while might sound a little contemporary and dated, are some of those associated most with Sonic games by the old guard. Spencer Nilsen’s soundtrack on the other hand delivers a much more ambient and darker tone to the game, completely changing the atmosphere; it really goes to show that a soundtrack can completely change the feel of a game. Regardless of which camp you fall into, you can’t deny that both games come armed with a great opening and closing vocal tracks.
Highlights: Sonic Boom, Tidal Tempest (US), Stardust Speedway – Bad Future (US), Comic Eternity (JP), Metallic Madness (JP), Boss!! (JP)
3. Sonic Mania
A modern classic. I probably don’t need to say much more than I have previously, in that Mania’s soundtrack is nothing short of a love letter to Sonic music through the ages. Fan-turned-professional musician Tee Lopes’s universal understanding of the DNA that comprises Sonic the Hedgehog soundscapes is nothing shy masterful, and has set a lofty standard for whatever follows in it’s wake in 2D Sonic titles. Lopes takes the best of the existing material and gives it a polish, breathing new life into well known tracks without detracting from what made them so brilliant in the first place. Additionally, Lopes demonstrates repeatedly throughout that his own compositions are just as phenomenal. Indeed, this is a soundtrack for the ages, and it feels criminal to select just three tracks as highlights!
Highlights: Prime Time – Studiopolis Zone Act 2, Blossom Haze – Studiopolis Act 2, Skyway Octane – Mirage Saloon act 1
2. Sonic 3 & Knuckles
A close call between this and the number 1 spot for sure, but many will hardly be surprised to see this game near the top of the listings. The songs of Sonic 3 & Knuckles are a culmination of tracks that are the very epitome of what makes Sonic soundtracks so good – a completely unique aural experience that has been much emulated but never replicated. Whether it’s the incredible “guitar” licks of Flying Battery, the “steel drums” of Angel Island, or the even the driving basslines of Ice Cap, this game sounds incredible even to this day, and further augments this great game. The calibre of the soundtrack is hardly surprising given that it’s authors include the likes of Senoue-san, Michael Jackson music director Brad Buxer, and in all likelihood the King of Pop himself!
Highlights: Hydrocity Act 2, Flying Battery Zone Act 1, Sky Sanctuary Zone
1. Sonic Adventure 1 & 2
The crowning jewels of the music of Sonic the Hedgehog are the timeless masterpieces that are the soundtracks of the Sonic Adventure series – and yes, I couldn’t pick a favourite. Pulling out all of the stops, Senoue et al. pulled out of the collective minds not one, but TWO massive musical landscapes to embellish the plethora of game environments, with no constraint on musical genre. Songs like the pop-punky Escape from the City and the spectacular power anthem that is Open Your Heart are unmatched in their power, driven home with a triple threat of galloping guitar work, thunderous percussion, and soaring vocals.
Nearly every playable character across the two games have their own distinct theme tune and genre, so their really is something for everyone. This format extends to the stages but is never forced, in fact quite the opposite; breaking into a vault to a jazz soundtrack has never felt so sincere to a 1960’s secret agent film with I’m A Spy…For Security Hall, or the slow Hawaii-esque guitar twangs of sitars that rings throughout Azure Blue World as Sonic adventures across the beach of Emerald Coast. I’m sure many fans will have stopped in Station Square, Mystic Ruins, and even a Chao Garden or two, to just pause and take in the atmosphere delivered by this soundtrack.
A perfect soundtrack for one of the most celebrated games of the series.
Highlights: Too many to list!
Here’s a handful of soundtracks that just missed out on featuring in the top 10:
Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear) – there are lots of 8-bit gems that missed out here, but Sonic Triple Trouble is a real diamond in the rough; Sunset Park Act 3 is a real highlight, and Fang the Sniper’s theme exudes a Mexican standoff – perfect for this rootin’ tootin’ sharp shootin’ Wolf. Or Gerboa (who knows!)
Sonic Colors (Nintendo Wii) – A tonally different game once again, Colors deserves a mention here as it’s soundtrack perfectly complements the lighter tone of the game itself, and Tomoya Ohtani gladly provides this in his distinct fashion.
Sonic Forces – Controversial, but why not! Forces, while being one of the poorer outings of Sonic in recent years, has some crackers in the soundtrack, and a smattering of catchy drum and bass-centric vocal songs. Let’s also not forget the heavy hitting Theme of Infinite provided courtesy of the Dangerkids!
Sonic Generations – This has probably missed out on the top 10 for being more of a revisiting of old soundtracks, but is nonetheless brilliant, and there are some phenomenal reworkings of Sonic CD’s Sonic Boom, and a blistering version of Heavy Arm’s theme.
Shadow the Hedgehog – Not to everyone’s taste, but I adore this soundtrack, which is heavier than a heavy thing, and a firm favourite of metal fans for sure. The theme song, I Am…All Of Me, is one of the most powerful Crush 40 songs going, and never fails to get the blood pumping.
Sonic Song Sin Bin:
Sonic Underground soundtrack – Apologies to the Sonic Underground gang, but this falls firmly in the sin bin – and although I am often one for a bit of cheese, this is too difficult not cringe through. Sonic and his band should probably not give up their day jobs! I will make one exception here – and that is the theme song, performed powerfully by Michael Lanning. That rocks.
Wonderman by Right Said Fred – During the advertising campaign in the early 90s, SEGA teamed up with dance-pop act Right Said Fred to create the bizarre Wonderman, which while making tenuous mentions to spin attacking and power sneakers in the lyrics, has little else to do with Sonic. It peaks at number 55 in the British charts, which tells you everything you need to know. Watch the bizarre music video below:
Sonic Jam (Games.com) – Barely a soundtrack, this game features single-channel renditions of stages from earlier Sonic games, that are unrecognisable due to having their tempo reduced by an order of magnitude.
Agree with our list? Don’t agree with our list? Let us know your favourite Sonic songs and soundtracks in the comments!
It was announced today via the Sonic Central stream that there will be a FREE online concert, in which a full orchestra will be performing the best of Sonic the Hedgehog songs in symphonic style during Summer Game Fest.
Not only this, Sonic sound team staples Crush 40 will be joining the orchestra on stage, to give the event a rock theme!
The concert will be streamed live, for free, with more information following through Games Fest media.
Ever wanted to make Jimmy Buffet classic “Cheeseburger in Paradise” play out of a Sonic thing? Or how about “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical hit Wicked? Maybe “Crazy Noisey Bizarre Town,” objectively the best Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure anime opening? Well good news, because now you can play these and more from a new Sonic plush currently only available in Mexico!
Images for this plush have been slowly circulating online, but our source is twitter account @SONICJENNY, who also seems to have the most images. This new Sonic plush and speaker features Bluetooth capability with a range of ten feet, as well as an audio cable input, a USB port, and an SD cart slot, so you’ll be able to play music on it with just about anything. Going by SONICJENNY’s twitter thread, the plush is around a foot long, has speakers in its feet, and sells for around $50. Check out the images below:
As of this writing, we are not aware of any way to obtain this plush online, as it seems to only be available via physical stores in Mexico. Even the manufacturer does not appear to be obvious from the packaging.
Hopefully, this plush will eventually be available elsewhere, so we can all enjoy the 1986 hit “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco through a cute Sonic plush doll.
SEGA’s been giving us some interesting glimpses at old, lost Sonic and SEGA things during their 60th anniversary celebration, from never-before-seen Sonic Adventure concept art to a neat SEGA Nomad prototype. Now, they’ve posted some early demo tracks from Sonic Adventure 2 on the Sonic youtube! Check them out below:
Today, SEGA released the final remix in its Tee Lopes/Jun Senoue collaboration, a reimagining of the track from Sonic 2 8-bit’s opening zone, Under Ground Zone. Go ahead and check it out below!
Sonic 2 8-bit was the version of Sonic 2 released for the Game Gear and Master System, and was a common pack-in for The former. Despite having the same name as the 16-bit version of the game, Sonic 2 8-bit was a completely different total with different zones, including the aforementioned Under Ground Zone. The game can still be bought on 3DS’s Virtual Console.
Yesterday, we reported that a new official remix from Tee Lopes was on the way soon, and we speculated that it would be Sonic Mania themed… and we were wrong! Sonic fans old and new will get to listen to a fantastic arrangement of “Welcome to Station Square” from the beloved Sonic Adventure, and even Jun Senoue gets in on the action!
If you aren’t already feeling ancient at the prospect of Sonic the Hedgehog turning 28 next month, here’s a fact that’ll age you; it’s been 7 years since SEGA Sound Director Jun Senoue led the creation of a Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack (Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, for those who can’t remember!).
Senoue’s absence has been by no means a sabbatical, having been involved in several other SEGA titles – as well as peripherally with most Sonic games – and regularly performing with a multitude of live acts across four continents. Those who have taken the reigns in the meantime have accomplished some phenomenal feats, particularly Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes who pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a perfectly blended score of old and new material, while simultaneously tipping the hat to the synonymous tones of the 90s titles. But with the classic itch well-and-truly scratched, many have longed for the return of Senoue and his trademark rock sound, in the context of a modern Sonic game.
As such, the anticipation for MAXIMUM OVERDIRVE, the Team Sonic Racing Original Soundtrack, reached fever pitch. Expectations have flown high based on the calibre of the tracks that had been drip-fed to us via Sonic the Hedgehog’s social media channels over the last few months. Now that the full OST has been released, we can firmly say that it does not disappoint.
Alongside the release of “MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE”, the 130-track soundtrack to the soon-to-be-released Team Sonic Racing, comes Sonic Sound Team Director Jun Senoue‘s third installment of “The Works” compilation album series.
Team Sonic Racing’s soundtrack certainly seems to be shaping up as one of the most rock-centric OSTs to feature in a Sonic the hedgehog title for many years, and this insight into the recording process doesn’t let up at all!
Check out the video below to see Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue, accompanied by long-time Sonic soundtrack bassist Takeshi Taneda, and Act. on percussion putting down tracks for “Market Street”, “Frozen Junkyard” and the game’s theme song “Green Light Ride” in the recording studio…
Time to get metal! SEGA today release the first of five remixes featured in the Sonic Mania Adventure cartoon series, commencing with a guitar-driven version of the “Big Arms” theme from Sonic 3 / Sonic & Knuckles, rearranged and performed by Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue and Sonic Mania composer TeeLopes.Continue reading Rock Out to the Sonic Mania Adventure Remix of Big Arms
Sonic Adventure celebrates it’s 20th anniversary today after hitting screens in Japan way back in 1998.
We take a look back at what made this game one of the most enduring Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and why SA1 was such a trailblazing title in not only the series, but in video game history.
SEGA of the 90’s certainly knew how to pull out all of the stops when it came to generating a buzz around the next Sonic game, and the anticipation of what was in store brought kids and grown-ups alike to fever pitch…and the announcement of Sonic Adventure was no different.
On the 22nd of August 1998, a few thousand lucky punters were invited to attend the first presentation of Sonic Adventure at the Tokyo International Forum – an event that was luckily recorded for posterity (which you can watch below). The first foray into the world of 128-bit high speed action was introduced by Yuji Naka, entering the stage in Rock star fashion by emerging from a balloon to a face-melting guitar riff.
The event also showcased a “Making of Sonic Adventure” semi-documentary presented in a light-hearted manor, in which Sonic Team embarked on a fact-finding trip to central America to visit the Tulum Ruins, the Caribbean Sea, the Tikal Ruins of Guatemala, and Machu Pichu amongst other locations – all of which influenced stages in the game.
Some members of the Team even became ill on their research trip from altitude sickness – talk about dedication to the cause!
Sonic has undergone several redesigns in his 27 ½ year history (we won’t mention the most recent!), but most fans regard the Sonic Adventure iteration of the neon protagonists to be one of the most successful. Characters traded their pot-bellies in for coloured irises and longer limbs, allowing for some incredibly elastic posturing that would become Yuji Uekawa’s instantly recognisable stylisation which remains the norm for modern Sonic artwork to this day. While the classic design of Sonic has since been translated to 3D, the modern Sonic style allowed for a much easier transition to the medium.
Dr Eggman was given a particularly significant redesign, along with both western and eastern franchises aligning on the Japanese name (although Robotnik would be kept as the name for his grandfather in the sequel).
The story mode
Story was not an element that featured heavily in Sonic the Hedgehog games until Sonic Adventure; in fact, one of the initial ideas while the game was on the development bench was to in fact create a Sonic RPG. For Sonic Adventure to include cut scenes and a narrative was a significant change to the game, and novel in that it in itself was derived from the intertwining stories of six different protagonists (one in fact executed in very few other video games at the time).
The seventh and final story in the game, and the true conclusion only accessible once all six main stories were completed, crescendos in the final showdown with Chaos with the player taking the controls of Super Sonic – something undoubtedly cemented as one of the most memorable video game conclusions for many Sonic fans.
Sonic Adventure was also the first Sonic the hedgehog game to include voice acting (besides SEGASonic Arcade) – and while the jury might still be out on the quality of the dialogue, SA1 is definitely one of the most quotable!
Hum the Green Hill Zone theme and just about any video game fan will tell you that its from a Sonic game – indeed, the soundtrack has always been a core component of what makes a Sonic game so, well, Sonical!
While Sonic Adventure is not the first video game to include vocal tracks (Sonic CD was doing that five years before) it is one of the first to have a fully-fledged album-like feel, complete with a swathe of character themes and a main anthem Open Your Heart, performed Crush 40, that is unparalleled in magnitude. The intro FMV undoubtedly still brings goose bumps to many!
The shift to a rock-centric soundtrack, a decision made by first-time Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue, was a bold move; the music for the original trinity of Sonic games were after all composed by Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True (and most likely Michael Jackson), resulting in a prolific pop influence. However, the move would prove highly successful and would be followed up with the equally popular Live & Learn in the sequel.
The magic of the soundtrack however derives from a brilliant use of multiple genres – rock, pop, rap, electronic, and jazz to name a few all feature throughout.
The game’s soundtrack has endured long enough that it has been celebrated since with the Sonic Adventure Music Experience, which saw Senoue-san and company re-record and perform key songs from the game and its sequel.
The Dreamcast was the very first games console to provide a connection to the internet as standard, and as such, Sonic Adventure is the very first game in history to include downloadable content! This came in the form of the Sonic Adventure Christmas download, which was only available for the first few days of release (it was no longer available after Christmas day). While this content only included Christmas trees in station square which played played music and gave a seasonal message when interacted with, it was another example of how SEGA and Sonic games were well ahead of the curb.
Happy birthday Sonic Adventure!
What makes Sonic Adventure special to you? Let us know in the comments!
SEGA’s bi-weekly reveals of new Team Sonic racing courses has continued with the reveal of a brand new course: Sand Road. Inspired by Sonic Adventure’s sand-surfing course, Sand Hill, Team Sonic Racing will let players race across the location’s sandy dunes for the first time in nearly twenty years.
When they do, players will also be treated to a remixed version of Sand Hill’s music track, which will feature Tee Lopes and Jun Senoue, with Takeshi Taneda on bass. Check out the music track (and a screen shot of the course) in the video below:
As the launch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate draws closer, Nintendo continue to tease the new and exciting features included in the game – and today’s blog post on the Official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate site is delectably Sonic AND Mega Man-themed!
Sonic Team sound director and Crush 40 guitarist Jun Senoue has been revealed to have created a Mega Man 4 Medley for the game, following on from the reveal of Tomoya Ohtani (sound director for Sonic Forces and Sonic Colors) has created his own rendition of a track from Splatoon for the title.
If you’ve always wanted to blast the Sonic Mania Soundtrack from your car stereo, you’re going to want to look into investing in the Japanese release of Sonic Mania Plus, which along with all of the perks of the western release will be packaged with a double CD album!
The Japanese Sonic Mania website details the full 54 track double CD, which not only includes all of the songs that appeared on the Data Discs’ Sonic Mania album release (which contained all of the original tracks in the game and will be back in stock for the launch of Plus), it also holds all of the “re-imagined” classic stage songs [EDIT: Nearly all!]. If that wasn’t enough,there are four Sonic Mania Plus bonus tracks included, along side all three Hyper Potions tracks constituting Friends and both versions of Time Trails including the version with Crush 40’s Jun Senoue on guitar.
While most will be pleased that the game is seeing an OST release on CD, it is not packaged with the western releases of Sonic Mania Plus. The special edition is available from Amazon Japan for about the same price as the western releases, however buyers will likely have to play extra for shipping and import fees in order to get their mittens on a copy. If you’re feeling even more flush, Ebten Japan are offering another edition which includes a limited edition T-Shirt, canvas purse and art cards, but these extras will set you back more than ¥8000.
Pre-orders have just commenced for the limited edition versions of the soundtracks (each containing 2 x coloured 12″ vinyl records) which can be purchased individually at the cost of $40/40€, or $100/100€ for a box set containing both soundtracks totally 4 vinyl records and a certificate of authenticity signed by Sonic Team sound director and composer Jun Senoue. The box set is to be strictly limited to 300 copies worldwide.
Orders from Europe can be made through French music purveyors Bigwax as of publication of this article, with US, Canadian and Latin American sales going live at 12PM PST today through Fangamer (links below).
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!