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Seeking unbiased opinions of replacement tracks in Sonic 3

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Tralis, Jul 15, 2022.

  1. Tralis


    Toaster Extraordinaire Oldbie
    I believe most of us grew up with the so-called "MJ" tracks that were on Sonic 3's Genesis release for Carnival Night, Ice Cap, and Launch Base zones and many of us are familiar with the copyright issues surrounding them. The community also knows that these aren't necessarily the "original" tracks since we have early prototypes that use the songs we've seen in the PC and Origins releases. Let's refer to these two sets of music as MJ vs PC tracks for clarity.

    My gut reaction to the PC tracks, even without Origins' poor mastering, is that they are strictly worse. They sound unfinished, much more generic, less interesting, etc. and my ear prefers the MJ version for each. In fact, I find the PC version of the CNZ, ICZ, and LBZ music to be substantially worse than other Sega-composed music on the Sonic 3 soundtrack, particularly much more generic sounding.
    Yet, how fair is this? I played Sonic 3 in my early childhood and grew up with the MJ versions. There's so much nostalgia there that I cannot possibly be objective or fair about this. I really want to get past the "they changed it now it sucks mindset"

    How do you all think that the PC versions of these three level themes really stack up when compared fairly against the rest of the Sonic 3 soundtrack?
    Angel Island is fine but I think is decidedly less iconic than Green Hill or Emerald Hill.
    Hydrocity is probably the strongest song in the "first half" of Sonic 3 that is shared in both soundtrack versions.
    Lots of the S&K music is downright epic like Flying Battery, Lava Reef, Death Egg.

    What do you all think?
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  2. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Unbiased opinions don't exist. Everyone has a bias. What you can do is be aware of your bias and say it up front.

    I don't really have strong opinions on this topic but thought I should say that!
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  3. Tralis


    Toaster Extraordinaire Oldbie
    Sure, but conversing with others may help me either remove my nostalgia filter or vindicate that the MJ tracks really were that much better. Of course nobody is truly unbiased.
  4. Josh


    I had both the Genesis carts and the S&K Collection as a kid. However, I did have the Genesis version several years before I got the collection, and got Jam shortly thereafter, so I never really played with the replacement tracks that much. The music in the prototype is the first time those tracks ever really sounded good to me, though. I've been playing Origins a bunch and making it a point to use them, giving them time to grow on me s'more.

    Of the three zones, the only one I think sounds unfinished is Icecap's. Barely any difference between act 1 and act 2, a short loop with pretty basic instrumentation... and the original Icecap is literally my favorite piece of music in any video game, so MAYBE that hurts it too, haha.

    But Icecap aside, my take is that the Sega Sound Team tracks fit, they just fit differently. They give those three zones, and their position within the game, a noticeably different feel, which is probably why they're so divisive. If you're used to one and hear the other, it'll sound nothing like the stage you have in your mind.

    It's interesting that the devs decided to use the Sega tracks for the first half of Sonic 3, but the MJ tracks for the second half. These lower-key, more determined melodies give the back half of Sonic 3 a lot more tension. Carnival Night feels dangerously tied to Robotnik's meddling on the island, Icecap is where you're speeding over a desolate mountain and getting close, Launch Base directly encourages you to "GO GO, G-G-GO GO" foil his plans for good.

    The Sega Sound Team tracks, meanwhile, seem to be a better match the zones' placement in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. You're nowhere near the end of the game, so you don't get that spike in tension. Carnival Night is a LOT more of a generic video game-y whimsy stage, but I can't deny it's grown on me a lot. Icecap is meh, but LAUNCH BASE is easily my favorite of the replacements, sounding cocky and triumphant. We've uncovered Robotnik's scheme and we're gonna hand his ass to him! But this is only the halfway point, before we ratchet things back down for Mushroom Hill.

    I'll always have a strong preference for the original Genesis soundtrack, but I can plainly see that if the roles were switched somehow, if the proto tracks were in from the beginning and we'd discovered a prototype in 2019 with Michael Jackson music, I'd almost certainly have preferred whatever the "original" music was regardless. ...with the exception of Icecap, I can't imagine a timeline where I WOULDN'T want Hard Times, haha.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2022
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  5. SuperSnoopy


    I like Sonic Advance Member
    Lyon, France
    Slice of life visual novel, coming soon...?
    I played the MD version first, but fell in love with the PC tracks as soon as I heard them in S3C.

    Ice Cap Zone is a hard pick, I think I like both equally. But the proto versions of CNZ and LBZ sound immensely better imo, it's not even a contest.
    Carnival Night's creepy clown music at least fits the level, but Launch Base...what's even happening here? What emotions is this track trying to convey? It's so shockingly barren and... bad (again, just my opinion) I don't even understand how they could ship it as it is.
  6. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    Didn't really grow up with either version. I played the PC version at school when I was like 5, but no one there could even reach Hidrocity because no one knew what a spindash was.

    First time I played S3 was in 2006-2007, I think, and I was never a fan of CNZ or LBZ in general -- not the songs nor the levels themselves. But when I first heard the prototype tracks... man, do I loathe them. I agree with everything you said about them. I don't really love the non-Ice Cap MJ songs, but they sure as hell don't feel generic. The prototype songs, though? I find them unbearably generic (I can physically feel myself forgetting the melody even as I listen to the songs), and the rest of the Sonic 3 soundtrack is a lot better by a wide margin.

    THAT SAID, Proto's Carnival Night Act 1 is growing on me little by little. Not the Origins version though lol.

    (Comparing Ice Cap is beating a horse that was never even alive imo)
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
  7. Linkabel


    I'm mixed, I don't think the proto tracks are bad but they just don't click with me.

    Proto Carnival Night I actually like, is just that it changes the atmosphere of Eggman's creepy theme park to a more "lighthearted and fun" feel.

    Proto Ice Cap just feels really generic to me, you could've told me this song was originally used in Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure ice level and I would honestly believe you.

    Hard Times stands out more, goes more with the short snowboarding part, it's more action oriented and it fits the tone better as you're reaching the end of the game. The winter wonderland sound of the proto track just clashes with what's going in the level and its placement in the game.

    Proto Launch Base just sounds corny to me. The little anthem at the beginning just ruins it for me, and the rest of the track doesn't sound ominous or something fitting for what's the climax (or first climax if you're playing the 3&K version) of the game.

    At least the MD version sound better, and I know everyone is tired of hearing the "GO!" sample used in every Sonic Remix, but I do think the track has a sense of urgency that's just not there in the proto version.
  8. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    I'm one of the few people who grew up with the PC version, only to play the Genesis version years later. I definitely prefer the SEGA compositions, they just feel right. The MJ ones stick out like a sore thumb and feel very unfinished with no proper act 2 variants, and the samples sound like absolute ass on the hardware.
  9. Harper


    While I grew up with the MJ tracks and only heard the PC tracks maybe once, I fell in love with the prototype tracks as soon as I heard them. Proto CNZ2 and LBZ2 are two of my favorites from the entire series. The MJ tracks are funky and are the versions I have nostalgia for, but the SEGA tracks fit with the rest of the soundtrack, sharing similar musical and rhythmic similarities to the rest of the soundtrack. I also feel like the tracks for CNZ and LBZ just fit better. CNZ becomes a fun and whimsical place instead of a dreadful slog. LBZ1 has this "storming the base" feeling that feels menacing while also remaining upbeat. LBZ2 has this triumphant feeling of finally catching up to Eggman and putting a stop to his plans. The MJ version has this sense of dread that makes for a good atmosphere, but proto LBZ2 just fits the aesthetic of the level better.

    Edit: Forgot to add that proto LBZ's music foreshadowing the Death Egg's fall is fantastic!
  10. Josh


    Just listening to proto Launch Base in isolation, and trying to mentally separate it from the level I know so well... does it sound kind of like a vaguely militaristic space station theme to anyone else? Like, I close my eyes and I see an interstellar zone with antigravity gimmicks in the upper atmosphere, like a more whimsical precursor to Death Egg half a game later. Makes we want to check the zone concepts again...
  11. Swifthom


    A Friend Remembers... Member
    Nit gonna happen from me. But, what grates I think, is the failure to even try to replicate the tone of the tracks. You can't use the same song? Fine. But replace a fast and downbeat song with a fast and downbeat song- even if it's different go for the same emotional response.

    When I was a kid ice cap episode 1 was one of the coolest moments on gaming, and the music was a part of that. It was... cool.
    Now when I load it up in origins I wonder why a circus theme is playing.
  12. astroblema


    my name means "star wound" Member
    It's a secret!
    Listening to Valleybell's renditions of the PC tracks made me immediately forget of the Genesis tracks as the "right" tracks for those 3 zones
  13. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

    Sonic 2: Archives
    I think my opinion is not a consequence of nostalgia, and other things, because I played S3 for the first time quite late. So late that six months later they found a prototype, lol. And I can say that all versions of OST are at least not bad. The music from S&KC is pretty good, and it never seemed terrible to me (except for the theme of the final boss. Like, a sitar? SERIOUSLY?). The prototype is good for me. The interpretations from S3 Complete are not bad... for that time. Personally, I always turn on CNZ and LBZ on S&KC in the music settings. Music from Origins to me... like. No, seriously! As a replacement for proto tracks, they are certainly so-so, but like the s&kc ost remixes - they are cool! It's even a pity that you can't choose them in S3 complete. But the topic of ICZ is, as everyone noted, hard times forever :)
  14. kyasarintsu


    Ice Cap is good but doesn't fit the vibe of the level. If it were more cheerful, like in some earlier concepts, sure.
    I think the rest of the tracks are decent and pretty fitting. I have no real problems with them, assuming the instrumentation and quality isn't butchered in some way.
  15. Battons


    Shining Force Fan Member
    I actually had a decent sound card in my old windows 98 as a kid so I was always confused when people said they sucked until I googled them later on. Point being I’m indifferent, sometimes I’ll prefer the MD sometimes I’ll prefer the PC. I think in terms of composition the protos are much more refined but aren’t as catchy/easy to remember. Depends on your music taste, kinda hard to be unbiased about music.
  16. I grew up playing S3K on Genesis, only getting the PC Collection in high school, so naturally the bias is strong within me. I will say that all of Team Buxer's tracks and Sega's fit their respective zones quite well. Even the middling Ice Cap by SST. Buxer's Ice Cap and Launch Base are total bops, and Carnival Night ain't no slouch either. Sega Sound Team's Launch Base is also a certified bop to my ears, while ICZ and CNZ are simply serviceable in any released state. Given enough polish I have no doubt that they'd rival the originally released tracks though.

    Basically, I'll likely always subjectively and objectively prefer the original zone themes, but if the internally composed themes were given the chance to truly shine I could be swayed on a song or two.
  17. charcoal


    Be Cool, Be Wild, and Be Groovy Member
    They're replacement themes, No one can really look at them unbiasedly on here because we've all heard different songs before and favor some over others even before Origins. The only real way to get unbiased opinions on them is getting someone who's unfamiliar with all of the songs and asking them which ones they genuinely prefer. Look elsewhere, as this simply isn't the right spot to find unbiased opinions about Sonic.
  18. Chibisteven


    Good luck getting unbiased opinion on this. The MJ tracks work better in the levels that they're used in than the PC tracks as it has to do with the vibe they set up and where you're at in game as far as plot goes. The PC tracks are alright and aren't too bad.
  19. nineko


    I am the Holy Cat Tech Member
    I grew up with the S&KC music on a Sound Blaster AWE32, and I wish there was an AWE32 soundfont somewhere, because I miss those instruments, but I can't really plug an ISA card into my current computer.
  20. Kimberly


    I have played many Sonic 3 and Knuckles with their original songs, and upon hearing the Prototype songs, there are some I genuinely like more (especially after hearing them more times) but also where I prefer the "MJ" version.

    For Carnival Night Zone I prefer the original proto song. It just fits better personally, and while I obviously also love the MJ version due to having grown up on it I actually put the proto song as a preference when playing Sonic 3 A.I.R now where you can modify which of the two songs play. The prototype theme in general just makes me happier than MJ's CNZ does.

    For Ice Cap Zone I still prefer the "MJ" version big time. I like the proto version too, but MJ's is just so good and I also love the song it's sourced from.

    For Launch Base, I also prefer the MJ version. However, I can totally see why people see these tracks as empty. The thing I feel about Launch Base MJ is that it has the "It's the last zone you are getting close" vibe. Where in Sonic 3 proto ver it feels like just another song. This makes sense though because Launch Base was not meant to be the last zone, and isn't the last zone in Sonic 3 and Knuckles, but it became the last zone in Sonic 3 alone.

    The problem I feel with the prototype version is that it feels unfinished.

    For the credits theme, I prefer the prototype version. The credits theme feels very much like a "This is the end" theme and sounds beautiful. I do admit though I was never much of a fan of the MJ Sonic 3 ending in general (prefer the Sonic 3 and Knuckles ending more).

    In conclusion, a mixed bag really. I am happy with what we ended up with, but of course, it's so annoying it did lead to licensing issues. I was still excited to hear these tunes being worked on for Origins, but as we all know and repeated ourselves it's worse in every way... and why did they not use the unused theme for Hyper Sonic :argh: