Sonic Soundtrack How should Sonic games sound?
Posted 23 September 2010 - 12:54 AM
This. No fixing required.
I find Naganuma's work with Sonic Rush mostly grating, repetitive, and annoyingly paced. That "bopping" Mainman was referring to has a pacing in Rush that's too frenetic, repetitive, and often overpowering to whatever melody the song's got. I blame it partly on the fucking lyrics. I swear, if you take the repetitive lyrics out of most every song and either replace them with an appropriate instrument or nothing at all, they'd be better suited to the actual game. The only exceptions I'd have for this rule are Vela Nova and What U Need.
The only song I can think of from the old games that can match the beat of Sonic Rush is Sky Sanctuary, but at least that has a far more prominent melody and a lack of repetition. Consequently it's a soaringly brilliant contrast to the soundtrack of the rest of the game. This is the same sort of relationship I see between Sonic Rush's overall soundtrack and Wrapped in Black, except while WiB tones the pacing down, it still keeps the repetitive lyrics.
Interestingly enough, I find the Sonic Groove Rush remixes much better than the original songs, so I guess adding another layer of vocals and some extra musical bridges thins out the grating repetition of the songs. Much better to an extent. Rush Adventure keeps the overall same beat, but they chuck most of the lyrics. For more the first reason than the last, I found the songs largely forgettable, while the Sonic Rush ones I do remember for being extremely distinct, but also annoying.
Granted, part of the reason I'm being harsh on the songs other than my general dislike of the beat is that I don't think too highly of Rush. It's okay, but it doesn't make me want to replay it. The only parts of it that I might like to are the Special Stages, that Air Traffic Zone or whatever, and the space zone is pretty fun. I'd say also the water park, which is actually a pretty good stage, but the fucking bottomless pits. Fuck them. The only other thing I like about the game is the fight between Sonic and Blaze. That was pretty bad ass, and I believe I said I liked Vela Nova as it is.
Sonic Adventure's music worked lovingly well with the game, even with the bad parts. You had a variety of different musical styles and genres expressed excellently in the game, differing from each other in beat, instrumentation,and melody. The soundtrack was quite dynamic, and it matched what could've been a great story about a great adventure. Maybe the inconsistency between different parts of the game and their accompanying songs put off people who were used to the more conservatism musical dynamism and specific quality of Genesis games, and I totally get that. In that respect, the Rush games succeed in being consistent with each song. Beautiful. I just don't like the pacing and I don't like the lyrics, and few of the songs I actually like. As for what songs I don't care for in Sonic Adventure? Well, the first face-off with Chaos, most of the Chao tunes, and the FISH CAUGHT theme.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:27 AM
Well said. I also thought it was really fitting and I liked how Naganuma made sure it matched the pace of the game, making it distinct from his work on Jet Set Radio.
I think the current Sega sound team is the best choice long term but there's plenty of room for others to contribute. I've never liked anything by Runblebee, but they've only worked on games I didn't like anyway (Secret Rings, Riders).
There's been a lot of mentions of the "classic style" but there really wasn't a single style in the Genesis/Megadrive era either. Obviously Masato Nakamura set the tone with Sonic 1 and 2, but CD (both versions) and 3 diverged considerably from that. It's only in retrospect that they've been grouped together as "classic style". I still like them all and I'm not denying their similarities, like the "boppiness" Mainman mentioned but I think talking about them without differentiating between them is a bit short sited.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:12 AM
While I agree with your points, there are still some common elements to the composition style that makes the Sonic music classic.
First of all, the strong melodies. A strong catchy melody that can get stuck in your head like nothing else. This is what makes a tune memorable almost 20 years later. Also, a strong beat. Even with the variety of styles and different composers, there was a strong beat. Sometimes this would just be a straight up driving rock beat, like CPZ or MZ, or sometimes it would be something a little bit percussive and syncopated, like MHZ and ARZ, with some other percussion thrown in to create a dense percussion section. But regardless, it was always something that motivated you to be Sonic and roll around at crazy speeds.
Also, the songs were quite layered considering the limits of the console. You'd often have your drums, bass playing an interesting groove, melody, melodic fills, some kind of counter melody in the background (sometimes just a simple arpeggio pattern, sometimes more complex), and an accompanying chord pattern that often creates an additional melody of it's own rather than simply playing whole notes to fill in background noise. For examples see the intro to CPZ, MZ, and MHZ.
On top of that, the limitations of the console also meant we had a smaller range of instruments, many of which became distinctive trademarks of the music, such as the drum samples, the various bass sounds, and that distinctive lead sound that was often used. They created a sense of character that was common among all of the Sonic games. Whether it was jazz, or rock, or even Indian, chances are you were going to hear those same instruments in there somewhere.
Even with the variety of the old tunes, and the vague nature of trying to define "classic Sonic" music, there were some common elements in the arrangement of the songs that made it identifiable with Sonic. At the end of the day though, I think the most important thing is just to have catchy tunes, and for me modern Sonic games don't generally have that.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:32 AM
In the 2D games however, I would definately like to hear more S3&K style music.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:49 AM
I like all of the theme Songs in all of the Sonic games up to Colours, which I'm not particulary sure on. I like rock and metal music any way, and I'm a fan of bands like Queen (Which Crush 40 often sound a lot like, especially on their album), Magna-Fi, Julien-K, and I've listened to a whole load of other bands featured previously, which are pretty decent, like Bowling For Soup and Zebrahead. Granted, I don't like Akon, but that Sweet Dreams mix was barely ever heard, and I didn't buy the game anyway.
The Rush games have some crazy music, and it seems like an advanced, orgasmic version of Sonic 3's music, with lots of samples and things. The Advance series music was particulary awesome; Leaf Forest Zone, Music Plant, Angel Island Zone and Route 99 are all epic. Sonic Battle was more like the Adventure series, giving us some hard rock, and some real beats to tunes too. If you haven't heard Death Egg Zone and felt a bad-ass vibe from it, then you're dead inside.
My only annoyance is that SEGA seem to keep changing the themes. The character themes from Sonic Adventure's series have been used sometimes, more recently in Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, but they need to be used more often. Knuckle's theme from Adventure is just Knuckles all over. His Adventure theme 2 is probably more suited to his character now though, at least from a lyrical perspective.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:56 AM
You're all wrong, Sonic 4 clearly has the music right. If there's no dying animal noises then it's just not Classic Sonic as you imagined it.
EDIT: Oh, wow, that's a new filter.
Anyway, I always figured Sonic CD got the Sonic sound just about perfect. If I had to choose any game after that though, Sonic Adventure was a pretty good modern Sonic sound.
Posted 23 September 2010 - 04:02 AM
Posted 23 September 2010 - 09:38 AM
Posted 23 September 2010 - 11:37 AM
But yeah, a lot of directions can work fine in a Sonic game. Above all though, it needs to be lively, and preferably diverse. Unleashed did a great job on this, especially on the latter.