The Sonic Stadium Soundtrack Squad Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – 8-Bit vs. 16-Bit

Classic Clash: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-Bit) vs. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-Bit)

The soundtracks to the 16-bit and 8-bit versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are quite tough to review this long after their release, what with all the nostalgia involved. These are not just soundtracks to games, but to childhoods after all! The biggest thing that both versions brought was a sense of urgency that the first Sonic the Hedgehog titles lacked. Both 16-bit Emerald Hill and Chemical Plant Zone tracks say “this is cooler than Sonic 1” from the get-go, with their faster tempo, snappier percussion and simpler melodies. The bold choice to start with an intense lava level – and an equally action-packed tune – gave 8-bit Sonic 2 a similar feeling. Green Hills Zone features a fast-paced masterpiece that Sonic fans would soon hear reprised in “You Can Do Anything” for Sonic CD. While the original Green Hill theme will always bring a tear to every nostalgic eye, this one just screams “I’m Sonic; I run around very fast and it’s awesome”. The Scrambled Egg Zone features a touch of surreal by layering lots of interesting sounds throughout and a downright epic solo of bleepy-bloops serving as the main melody.

Then we come to the chilled out songs. 16-bit has the likes of Aquatic Ruin, Hill Top and Oil Ocean Zone themes. Now this is just my opinion, but I found the slower tracks to be the weak spot of 16-bit. They all felt either repetitive or just a bit dull, not quite fitting in with the rest of the soundtrack. 8-bit however, had some much funkier tunes for the slower levels, such as Sky High and Aqua Lake Zone. While Aqua Lake’s melody meanders around a bit more than Sky High, they’re both very catchy, toe-tapping tunes. The Gimmick Mountain Zone theme is incomparable with anything in 16-bit counterpart can offer, and perfectly captures a far more surreal tone than most Eggman strongholds, with many fades, and a mysterious and sinister melody. 16-bit has Casino Night, Mystic Cave and Metropolis, all three of which escape the problem I had with the other slower tracks, thanks to their fantastically written melodies.

Coming to the finale tracks, 8-bit’s Crystal Egg Zone is one of the more surreal endings in the franchise. A totally wacky and chirpy tune portrays this strange zone fantastically. I find 16-bit’s finale to be a mixed bag though. Sky Chase is a beautiful song, but I can’t help but think its all “sky” and no “chase”, making it a little unfitting. In a similar manner, Wing Fortress perfectly represents Eggman’s triumphant creation, but not the fact that Sonic is running about messing the thing up. Death Egg is also a bit of a funny track. The bit you hear is great but the unused portion of the song is just weird and loses the sinister feeling of the start. I’m glad that Death Egg was not a full stage with this looping in the background.

To close, we come to the boss and ending themes. 8-bit’s boss theme is used for every boss, including the final one. The Game Gear uses a very fast-paced tune, whereas the Master System is a more scrambled sounding manic theme. Both are very fitting, but certainly not something you’ll be humming the next day whereas the boss themes of 16-bit version have become legendary melodies. The 16-bit ending uses the classic medley formula, whereas the Master System goes for a very sombre piece with a gorgeous melody (getting the good ending on Game Gear grants a different tune which, while not quite as memorable, is also a very pleasant listen).

8-bit has fewer tunes of a consistent quality, which likely means you either love or hate the whole thing, whereas 16-bit is larger and more varied, making it more likely for one to love or hate individual tracks. I do however feel that both soundtracks are still fantastic, and paved the way for an all new tone of cool for Sonic in his first sequel.

Favourite 16-bit track: Chemical Plant Zone
Favourite 8-bit track: “Bad Ending”
Personal Favourite: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit version).

“It’s really quite a difficult task to compare the soundtracks from both of the 1992 versions of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, especially when there is an existing bias already in position for one of them. All things aside, each soundtrack brings something different to the table. Nakamura’s work on the MegaDrive version is brilliant. Each piece really captures the atmosphere and mood of each stage, whether it be the simulated brass and slap-bass in Casino Night, the scratching and popping of the mechanical Metropolis or the eerie wails of the dark Mystic Cave. One of my greatest joys about the soundtrack are the 2-Player tracks, which use essentially the same instruments as their “1-Player stage” counterparts, but tune to something more suitable for competition.

Contrast this with the Master System collection of tracks. The tracks are hearty for an 8-bit based soundtrack, but I’m not convinced that if the tracks were recreated 16-bit style, they would have the same flair. Using what he had, Tomozou Endo created the very jerky and sporadic Scrambled Egg which lives up to its name, while Sky High is just too simple a track to enjoy and really doesn’t spark enthusiasm. However, Green Hills Zone will always have a special place in my heart as the music that eventually grew into the theme song for Sonic CD, “You Can Do Anything”. Having said this, Tomozou Endo hasn’t really done a bad job with the technology he had. Nakamura just set the bar way too high. ”

Favourite 16-Bit tune: Casino Night Zone 2P.
Favourite 8-Bit tune: Green Hills Zone
Best Soundtrack: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-Bit Version)

“I think some would see the comparison of these two soundtracks as a bit one-sided in favour of the Megadrive/Genesis score. Granted, the 16-Bit iteration is close to superb, but guys, go back and listen to the 8-Bit version. The Yamaha sound chip on the MS may not be up to its big brother’s standard, but Endo’s pushed that to the limit. Crystal Egg and Gimmick mountain have nearly four “voices” in each track (percussion, bass, rhythm and lead melody), and that is extremely cool consider most other titles on the console rarely utilize more than two. Plus, I dig anything vaguely rock, and I’m pretty sure that both Scrambled Egg, Underground Zone and the boss themes were all written with a thrash metal vibe in mind, so Endo-san rocks!

What starts to really rake me back though is listening to Chemical Plant and Mystic Cave, with an incredibly convincing slap-bass synthesised by Nakamura-san. Each track shines in its own respect with a real clean sweep across a huge range of emulated genres and all maintaining an allegro I think no other Sonic game has managed. Who can say the mechanical resonance of Metropolis (what with that wonderful scratch and guitar-riffic chorus!) doesn’t send a shiver down their spine? So how do I choose between these two soundtracks? I think actually can’t…but because I have a feeling it won’t get as much love (and I have to make a decision!), my vote goes to the underdog!”

Favourite 16-Bit tune: Mystic Cave Zone
Favourite 8-Bit tune: Scrambled Egg Zone
Best Soundtrack: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-Bit Version)

“Undoubtedly, the main problem with the soundtrack to the 8-Bit iteration of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 soundtrack is the boredom factor; there just seems to be a distinct lack of any kind of excitement or variation throughout the whole thing, and it almost sounds like a lethargic and dull version of Sonic Chaos’ superb music. It even uses similar note sequences to its successor, although they were far more polished and improved in the latter game than they were in Sonic 2. Save for some points of Underground Zone (the intro was rather repetitive and dull) and the Boss theme (Master System version only), the entire OST was generally monotonous, uncreative and uninspiring; a huge disappointment for all who were expecting a stunning follow-up to the first game’s awesome soundtrack.

The MegaDrive version‘s musical score, on the other hand, is a marvellous concoction consisting of nothing but purely excellent electro and synth-pop, played out on the astonishingly outstanding YM2612 synthesizer chip. Masato Nakamura really outdid himself with the likes of Chemical Plant Zone and Emerald Hill Zone; making excellent use of the vip-vip-vow synth sounds of the MegaDrive and conveying shockingly good melodies and basslines, they both shine out from all the other tunes as the absolute finest pieces of music on the game, and completely blow the 8-Bit version’s soundtrack out of the water and into orbit. Additionally, catchy classics such as Aquatic Ruins Zone and Metropolis Zone will be lodged into your brain for years; you’ll doubtlessly find yourself involuntarily humming them in public toilets for all the world to hear!”

Favourite 16-Bit tune: Chemical Plant Zone
Favourite 8-Bit tune: Boss Theme (Master System Version)
Best Soundtrack: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-Bit Version)

Well, it looks like we can’t reach a unaninous decision folks, so I guess this means you guys are going to have to settle the debate for us once and for all! Do you have a favourite out of the two soundtracks? What is your favourite track and why? Let us know in the comments!

Guinness World Records Clarifies Sonic 2 Record

James Richards successfully earned a Guinness World Record for completing Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s Emerald Hill Zone Act 1 in the fastest time. The only problem was, that fastest time was 22 seconds, a whole two seconds shorter than a time officially achieved at the Summer of Sonic convention in 2008. So, what gives?

Gaz Deaves, who was the adjudicator on the Summer of Sonic 2008 Sonic 2 time, explained to The Sonic Stadium that it was a matter of console configuration. James’ record was achieved on an Xbox 360, while Louis Tsiattalou (SoS 2008 record holder) used a Sega Mega Drive. The differences are more significant than you might think, says Deaves:

Bearing in mind the differences between controllers (remember, the Megadrive has 3 useable buttons which allow for faster spin-boosting if used correctly) I’m not convinced 20 seconds is even possible on a current-gen console (but would love to be proven wrong!). James may be in danger, though, as I’ve already had an unauthenticated claim from a guy who says he can consistently pull off 21-second runs on PS3 and Xbox 360.

So that’s that. The main point of contention for some was whether Louis’ record, a faster time despite the apparent difference in configuration, would be dumped for the slower record just because it was a newer attempt, at a higher profile event sponsored by an energy drink. Having something like that muscle out a bona fide achievement accomplished by dedicated Sonic fans would be pretty damning. But Deaves says that all awards get phased out of the book anyway as a matter of keeping things fresh;

The content of the book is never sponsored or paid for – what goes in is always based on what we think is interesting for the reader rather than brand exposure for Lucozade or Nintendo or anyone else for that matter.

As it happens, I don’t think either Louis or James will be featured in the 2010 Gamer’s Edition: we went to press on Thursday last week so there’s no chance of James’ 22-second run getting in. Plus, we don’t feature every record every year (we need to do this to make room for new records) and I’m pretty sure Louis’ time hasn’t been featured in this one. Although, I do know we included a speed run of the Wyle[sic] Coyote-inspired Sonic clone Desert Demolition for Megadrive (dunno if you remember that one?)

Sure, Wile. E’s alright, but it’s just not the same. Deaves notes that he attempted to contact current record holder Louis to defend his title on the Xbox 360, but received no response. Louis, what are you waiting for?

“New Sonic 2 World Record” Doesn’t Actually Beat World Record


Various sources are reporting that gamer James Richards, in association with Lucozade and the Guinness World Records, has apparently broken a time trial record for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at the Golden Joystick Awards show in London.

The only thing is, he didn’t.

James attempted the World Record, which involved speed running through Sonic 2’s Emerald Hill Zone Act 1 as fast as possible, and managed a very respectable time of 0:22. Guinness World Records representatives were at the event to adjudicate and officiate the new record.

However, the current World Record for Emerald Hill Zone Act 1 lies with Louis Tsiattalou with a time of 0:20. This was achieved at the Summer of Sonic Convention in August 2008, and funnily enough was also officiated by Guinness World Records representatives. The record was even published in the Guinness Book of World Records: Gamers Edition 2009.

Which begs the question, how did Guinness come to forget their own World Record?

James was happy that he got a quick time, all thanks to Lucozade Alert Plus, apparently. “I’ve been training for weeks for this. Getting my mental preparation right has been just as important as honing my physical co-ordination and reactions. Lucozade Alert Plus has given me the energy boost I’ve needed to increase my focus, concentration and overall mental performance. I’m so happy to have broken the record – one that I hope will stand for some time to come!”

I wonder who will be the poor sod that has to break the news to James that he didn’t actually break any records?

James attempted his World Record on an Xbox 360. The current World Record holder, Louis, achieved it on a Sega Mega Drive console. There are faster times on speed running sites that clock in as quick as 19 seconds and beyond, but these use ROMs, engineered copies of the game or do not take place in front of a Guinness World Record adjudicator, and thus aren’t qualified for World Record placing.

Sonic 2 World Record Attempt At Golden Joystick Awards


Gamer James Richards will be attempting to break the current world record for fastest completion of Sonic The Hedgehog 2’s first stage Emerald Hill Zone on three formats, Wii Virtual Console version, Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade version and the SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection version on PS3.

The event is being held by Lucozade to promote their new energy drink shot Lucozade Alert Plus. This new drink is proven to boost mental performance, focus, reactions and alertness all of which are a fitting suit for Sonic’s character.

Can James do it? Well he already holds the Guinness World Record for his blistering speed run of Sonic The Hedgehog 3 which stands at 49 minutes and 17 seconds so he’s very capable.

Editor’s Note: The current Guinness World Record for the fastest time through Emerald Hill Zone Act 1 was achieved at the Summer of Sonic convention in 2008. The world record holder is Louis Tsiattalou with a time of 0:20.

Source: CVG

Golden Joystick Awards Official Website

Sonic 2 Mobile Released

While we’re all still waiting patiently for SEGA in the west to give us the other half of the original Sonic the Hedgehog on mobile phone, lucky Japanese ketai holders can get the sequel since November 1st.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 pretty much recreates the original Mega Drive classic, with a different looking HUD situated at the top of the screen. 903i models of mobile phone can get a special edition where “Eggman Battle” and “Special Stage Attack” appear as two bonus modes.

Check out the Sonic Cafe page for more info (in Japanese) and images.

Sonic Cage Dome Holds Online Sonic 2 Tourney

The Sonic Cage Dome announced on the 7th they are holding a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 online tourney on Saturday.

Currently all eight places are taken, but due to expected drop-outs registration is still open to take places if this happens.

All competitors are expected to use an official version of Gens and a specific ROM of the game. The competition is scheduled to start at 4pm EST (9pm GMT) Saturday.

Watch Sonic 2 Beta – Nick Arcade TV Clips Found

Who wants to know what Sonic 2 used to look like before it came out on store shelves? I know I certainly do! Well, one way is to read our review of the Sonic 2 Beta, but another way is by watching these cool videos from Nickelodeon TV in the 1990s, where kids were tasked with playing a beta version of Sonic 2 long before the game was finished. Continue reading Watch Sonic 2 Beta – Nick Arcade TV Clips Found

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 2 & Knuckles

Well, here we are with Sonic 2 & Knuckles. It’s Sonic 2, only you play as Knuckles! Still with us? Cool. Graphically speaking, obviously if Knuckles from S&K was just plastered onto Sonic 2, then he’d look weird, so SEGA has done a good job recreating Knuckles so that he doesn’t look out of place. The only downside is, unfortunately, this is still Sonic 2 – you’re just playing as a different character, so no points on the originality side there. But who cares if you’ve got S&K with Sonic 3, right? Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 2 & Knuckles