Classic Serious Business – Sonic CD

I’ve written about Sega/Mega CD before, but only recently have I been playing it a whole lot. One of the well-known gems of its library was the highly-regarded Sonic CD. It was released soon after Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Genesis, but had a different game design team. The same group that worked on the original Sonic the Hedgehog (from the old Sega Genesis/Megadrive pack-in) worked on Sonic CD, whereas a different team went on to do Sonic 2 and 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. Or something like that. It’s very apparent from the start that the gameplay and graphics to Sonic CD share many more characteristics of the original Sonic game than Sonic 2.

sonicboomsonicboomsonicboomsonicboomsonicboomso…BOOM! YOU’RE A FLOWER!

I am only discovering now the exceptional quality of some of the tunes on Sega CD. I didn’t own it when I was a kid. It’s too bad the system didn’t have more badass games that could take advantage of the superb sound options. Some of this stuff just straight up moon-rocks. A lot of the sounds are classic club/studio samples from the early ’90s, which is A-OK by me! I’m talking early ’90s European MTV dance music keyboard patches: Ace of Base, Blackbox, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. But don’t read it the wrong way, this game music is actually much better than those bands. Sort of the way Yuzo Koshiro totally snagged musical influence/ambiance from Blackbox to compose Streets of Rage 2, in the process making Blackbox’s style sound really good.

Sounds like my kind of place… The sigilization of Sonic’s feets…

What I find really amusing is how the Sonic CD soundtrack reminds me of a cross between the soundtrack to The Real Ghostbusters (maybe the best cartoon history will ever know, with music by a project called Tahiti), and the tunes featured in early ’90s PBS kids shows like Ghost Writer. Come to think of it, can you imagine how awesome it would have been to do a cross-over where the Ghostbusters had to bust Ghost Writer? I can’t believe I share ideas this good!

On top of all this, the music here provides a preview of what direction the composition in the series was headed for with the later Dreamcast titles. The epic, endearing power-pop metal of Sonic Adventure has its roots here, but Sonic CD has more relaxed vibes for its main themes, using keyboard patches that reflect the time period. While the Sonic Adventure soundtrack was something of a retro-throwback to the best the ’80s guitar-rock genres had to offer, Sonic CD came out in the the early ’90s, when pop music was leading into a different kind of studio production and placed less emphasis on promoting hair-metal. So it’s rather interesting to me to compare the two soundtracks and see which one is favorable. They’re both very strong works, though I think Sonic Adventure has one of the better modern (CD-based audio quality) video game soundtracks to date.

Does this look like Sonic 1 to anybody else?Sonic gets impressed by pretty flowers when he’s low on oxygen

That being said, the Sonic CD music is unique to the Sonic series, as it has a rather melancholic, dream-like quality to it. It’s very inspiring, but also very interesting for the way it colors the game. It’s not what one would imagine of a Sonic game. I really do like the use of the choir singers (again, with the reference to the Ghostwriting music and whatnot) and the droning synths and echoing guitars. My only complaint would be that some of the tracks sound too similar. But honestly, I’m pretty impressed by what I’ve heard.

“Sonic Boom” is probably the most adequate song of all time to pump your fist to (I know, I know… Judas Priest‘s Turbo) and I love the choir effects on “Tidal Tempest Zone”‘s theme for the “present”. And my favorite music in the game might be from “Quartz Quadrant Zone.” Especially the “Past” and “Future” themes. They’re supremo. See what I mean about the music being kind of melancholic and mysterious? Strange for a Sonic game, but it works! Check out the slick lead guitar on the Sonic Boom reprise. There are a number of tracks in the game with playing like this. N-n-nice

These early Sonic games could actually compete with Mario as flagship console platformers. Hence it’s unfortunate that with Sonic Adventure the competition ended. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come. Don’t get me wrong; Sonic Adventure was a decent game. But it had some bugs and the action was not nearly on the same level as Super Mario 64 or Mario Sunshine. Sonic Adventure felt like a really fast, action-packed movie experience. You know how movie critics always say action movies are high-octane? Well, Sonic Adventure was like that: high-octane. But being high-octane isn’t, like, everything in games, dontcha know.

I will say that it does not bode well for a game platform when they do not have any superb flagship mascots or games. The fact that Sonic Adventure (and really most Dreamcast games) were not revelatory, new gaming experiences (the way Super Mario Bros., Sonic 1, Mario 64 and Battle Arena Toh-Shin-Den/Virtua Fighter were) might have been part of what sank the Dreamcast. And it’s really too bad consoles don’t come with pack-in games anymore. I do wonder why Sonic CD didn’t come with the Sega CD, but maybe they realized that was the one game everyone with a Sega CD would actually buy. Besides, it’s no Sewer Shark, you know?*

Buy it @ Amazon
Get it @ Half.com

_____

*Sewer Shark was the Sega CD pack-in and it was amazingly terrible. You really have no idea. I’m talking like, Back to the Future video-game terrible.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on November 13, 2007.

6 Responses to “Classic Serious Business – Sonic CD”

  1. The Sonic CD music was composed by Spencer Nilsen and David Young for the most part. Some of it ended up on a CD called Sonic The Hedgehog BOOM in 1996 that was part of a promotion of some kind. Spencer released an album in 1989 called Architects Of Change that has a very similar sound to the Sonic music. Later, he scored Ecco The Dolphin and Ecco 2: The Tides Of Time, the CD versions. Some of those tracks were released on the 1996 disc Ecco: Songs Of Time. Personally, I liked the Stardust Speedway music the best from Sonic. But, I truely love the Ecco music. :-)

  2. Nice! I am totally going to try and locate those discs. That info on Ecco the Dolphin CD is spruce as well. I never played the CD versions, but now I’m pretty curious about them. Thanks for the heads up, Rob!

    By the way, some of the tracks on your music page are pretty not-too-shabby. And I agree…Vangelis is awesome.

  3. Thanks for the compliment! E-mail me and I can point you to a site to find some of the music.

  4. […] This is the third time I’ve written about Sonic the Hedgehog. I also wrote posts about Sonic CD (Sega/Mega CD) and Sonic Adventure […]

  5. Sonic CD has amazing music. The American version is superior! The only good track on the JPN release is the present Tidal Tempest track, which is awesome. I play my Sonic CD and Ecco 2 discs all the time. The music is my Spencer Nilsen, look him up!

  6. i love sonic

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