Sonic Sounds: The Best of 30 Years of Sonic the Hedgehog Music

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!

Honourable mentions:

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!

Blue Streak Speeds By: Sonic’s Animated Legacy

Back in the 90s, when Sonic was the newest, hottest video game property on the block, having a cartoon was always a telltale sign that a game series had truly made it. Mario had a series of them, Legend of Zelda had one, Earthworm Jim had one, and even Bubsy almost had one.

Continue reading Blue Streak Speeds By: Sonic’s Animated Legacy

It Looks Like An Actor from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Stars in the Sonic Movie Trailer

It’s only been a day since the highly-anticipated Sonic movie trailer dropped, and already fans (including us!) have been scrambling to uncover any Easter Eggs they can find. But a keen-eyed reader seems to have found a pretty good one that throws back to not one, but TWO 1990s Sonic cartoons. Continue reading It Looks Like An Actor from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Stars in the Sonic Movie Trailer

Naka: Sonic 3 & Knuckles Special Stage Was Inspired By Dragon Ball Z

It is no revelation that Sonic the Hedgehog has drawn upon pop culture in its creation (the Death Egg probably being one of the more obvious tributes to Star Wars), but it appears that the influences from Dragon Ball extend further than super forms and collecting 7 powerful objects! Continue reading Naka: Sonic 3 & Knuckles Special Stage Was Inspired By Dragon Ball Z

Sonic Underground Now On iTunes

sonicundergrounditunes

Depending on your outlook, if you’ve not seen Sonic Underground before, that might be considered a good thing. It’s no secret that the show wasn’t that great. But if you’ve ever had a desire to see the show today is your ‘lucky’ day.

Series 1 & 2 of Sonic Underground is now available to download on iTunes. So if you’ve never seen the series before and feel like giving it a shot, by all means head over to iTunes and download away. Episodes are priced at $1.99 each and each volume (20 episodes) can be bought for $27.99. I probably should point out here that the entire 40 episodes are available on DVD and can be purchased for much less than that.

Also as a side note, Sonic Underground will also be getting a ‘conclusion’ in Sonic Universe #50 later this year.

Source: Series 1, Series 2

Sonic Underground Getting Epilogue in Sonic Universe #50

I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

Sonic Underground, an obscure DiC produced Sonic cartoon from 1999, is getting an epilogue in Sonic Universe’s landmark 50th issue next March. The issue, which will be a single issue story, will chronicle what happened after the end of the television series, finally giving a proper ending to the show nearly 14 years after it ended. The story will be written by Ian  Flynn and the cover, which you can see above, is drawn by Patrick Spaziente. For the full cover, head over to this story’s source, Destructoid.

What makes this even cooler is that Sonic Underground has always been a part of the Sonic comic’s wider multiverse. The comic had a crossover with the series in a super special back when the show first came out in order to promote the series. In a sense, this issue is not only resolving an entire Sonic continuity, but a lingering plot thread in the comic to boot.

I am personally rather excited by the prospect of Sonic Universe being used to actually continue and resolve one of Sonic’s ill-fated cartoons. We’ve never gotten a true resolution to any Sonic continuity, with most continuities typically being left open ended, if not on an outright cliffhanger as was the case with Sonic SatAm. Heck, maybe this will open the door for other Sonic universes to be featured in the comic!

Terrible musical numbers and some spotty voice acting aside, I felt Sonic Underground was a decent Sonic series with some strong episodes, though this may have something to do with the fact that it was the first American cartoon to feature Knuckles. It’s typically considered one of the worst of the Sonic cartoons. If you have any interest in catching up on Sonic Underground before its epilogue in Sonic Universe #50, the series currently airs every weekday morning on Disney XD. British fans can catch the series on Kix. The series is also available on DVD and on Netflix.

Freak-Out Friday: The Original Sonic Underground Concept & DiC

HA HAR! GOOD EVENING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Now… you’re probably wondering whats happened to your usual Freak out Friday staffer? Well he’s helping me with an experiment. Hmmmm? No Vizard… you may not come out…

Remember that cartoon? That one with Sonic and his siblings who made a vow their mother will be found? They saved the world using the power of music! Yeah… what where they thinking when they decided that? Well do we have a treat for you, earlier this week some very rare concept art went up on ebay and we thought you’d like to see this incredible bit of Sonic history!

There you see, I’m being nice, just a cool ghostly image of Robotnik looking down with a cybernetic arm, nothing to worry about, and next up we have one of the most dramatic changes.

Continue reading Freak-Out Friday: The Original Sonic Underground Concept & DiC

Sonic Mega Mix DVD Compilation Hits U.S. Next Month

A new listing has appeared at a few online retailers such as Amazon that reveals Cookie Jar Entertainment will be releasing a DVD compilation on January 4th 2011 featuring episodes from Sonic’s original three cartoon series Sonic the Hedgehog (AKA SatAM), Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground. The compilation is titled “Sonic Mega Mix“, and according to retailer Future Shop it will contain one disc with a running time of 155 minutes. Future Shop also says the DVD is region locked at Region 1, so fans outside of the U.S. looking to import this will need a multi-region DVD player to run it.

No information is available regarding which episodes or how many will feature on the DVD, but at 155 minutes you can expect about 6 episodes total. As for price, Amazon is listing it at $9.99, Barnes & Noble at $9.01 and Future Shop at $5.99 Canadian.

Sources:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Future Shop

UPDATE: Sonic Underground’s Sonia Spotted in ASR Wii & PC

SSMB Member Yuluga has just brought to our attention a cameo appearance from Sonic Underground’s Sonia in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing’s Roulette Road course discovered by members of Sonic Reikai forums. Continue reading UPDATE: Sonic Underground’s Sonia Spotted in ASR Wii & PC

Sonic Underground back on DVD

Wired are reporting that a new Sonic Underground DVD volume 1 is now available containing the first 20 episodes and with new extra’s like a Greatest Hits cd, a music video jukebox and concept art.

A search on Amazon.com finds a Sonic Underground DVD released Dec 18th 2007, no specific releated info to the article is there though but with the release date it’s most likely the one.

Amazon.co.uk finds nothing new.

Tesco ‘Price Blitz’ Cuts Cost on Sonic Software

The UK based supermarket chain ‘Tesco’ is currently running a large promotion that it calls ‘Price Blitz’.

The promotion aims to bring a wide range of audio visual entertainment to the consumer at budget prices. On offer are: CD’s, DVD’s, PC software and Videogames, each category is then grouped into a different price range. Understandably the quality and production number of these items will affect their price.

Worthy of note (and the whole purpose of this report) are the Sonic items included in the offer. If you’ve been deterred from buying Sonic’s PC outings or DVD instalments of Sonic Underground, because of the price, then worry no more. Infact the items on offer were already part of value a range, so you can be sure the cost has been slashed severely. Continue reading Tesco ‘Price Blitz’ Cuts Cost on Sonic Software

Bonus Episodes on Sonic DVDs

This comes from Sonic HQ News by Kanshisha:

The Sonic Underground, Mario and Zelda DVDs will have bonus Sonic episodes. Here is the list.

Sonic Underground – Dr. Robotnik’s Revenge Episodes:
Beginnings
Hedgehog’s Home is her Castle
Modoboon

DVD Bonus – Super Mario Bros. – Do You Princess Toadstool, Take this Koopa

Sonic Christmas Blast Episodes:
Sonic Xmas Blast
Three Hedgehogs and a Baby
Price of Freedom Continue reading Bonus Episodes on Sonic DVDs

DiC Launches Brand New Website With Focus on Sonic Cartoons

There’s no smoke without fire, they say – and animation house DiC has curiously relaunched its official website with brand new details and info on its past Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, adding fuel to the rumours that DVD re-releases of the shows could happen soon. Continue reading DiC Launches Brand New Website With Focus on Sonic Cartoons

Sonic Cartoons Coming to DVD, Courtesy of DiC

DiC Entertainment, the animation company responsible for the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons in the 1990s, has recently broken free from former parent company Disney. And now that it is an independent once more, it plans to re-release a number of Sonic shows on DVD in time for the company’s tenth anniversary. Continue reading Sonic Cartoons Coming to DVD, Courtesy of DiC