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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. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood

    I do find it interesting that people keep saying that proto Ice Cap doesn't fit because it sounds more like an upbeat wonderland rather than a downbeat wasteland like MJ Ice Cap.

    Excuse me, but what? Ice Cap is full of things like those rotating star pillars, the gorgeous cave background that glows and various creative ice structures. It's definitely an wonderland, not a wasteland. The whole level has a magical, whimsical and fun vibe to it.

    But I say that having grown up with SKC on PC for years before I ever heard the MJ version. And I think that my first exposure to the MJ soundtrack would have been through MIDIs on somewhere like, which honestly just confused me. I had always associated Ice Cap with that fun and playful sound, not the forboding sound of the MJ version. The same goes for Carnival Night sounding creepy in the MJ soundtrack even though nothing about the visual aesthetic is creepy, apart from maybe the section where the lights go out in Act 2. And also Launch Base, which gave the level an air militarism my from POV, instead of slick and funky in the MJ version. If you heard the levels differently, that's going to make you see them differently too.

    Video game soundtracks are incredibly powerful, and it's easy to overlook that. They play just as big a role in our perception as the visuals and gameplay a lot of the time. From reading what people have said here, I've learned that the visuals of a level like Ice Cap can be interpreted a few different ways, so the music is actually very instrumental in forming our overall impression. And first impressions can be hard to overcome. That's why I think of Ice Cap as a wonderland wherein the MJ soundtrack doesn't fit, and why other people would say the exact opposite. Nobody is wrong, but we're all incredibly biased.
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  2. I had each version of Sonic 3 as they came out, so I definitely have preferences. That being said, the pc version of the Sonic 3 & Knuckles collection has always been within arms reach whenever I sit at my pc. My current pc I made sure had a disk drive for retro games (even if i have to run an older virtual OS). The same with Sonic CD, R, and 3D Blast. The 3 set is the one I'd always grab when I wanted something to play. There is definitely Nostalgia for all of the music too. That said, I definitely think the beta tracks are a step up and wish the Origins versions to get some more polish to truly shine.

    So I've probably heard the PC soundtrack more than the Sonic 3 soundtrack. Though I'd often just play Knuckles stand alone probably more (don't ask) but that doesn't factor in. Always found the alternate songs very good though. Absolutely a different feel, which I can't complain about at all since they still all fit in different ways. So even with a different balance of nostalgia, it leaves some to be desired in Origins and hopefully room to improve. And if not, mods.
  3. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I really like both OSTs for Carnival Night.

    The MJ tracks play upon a traditional carnival song which I think is really clever and works well. I think the more downbeat vibe suits the level really well when the lights go out, especially because of the way the second act is more stripped back in sound.

    The Proto themes are both excellent tracks. I think they are easily up there with the rest of the game's OST. The first act theme is maybe a little derivative and formulaic in its progression but the second act is really interesting and nice on the ears. Hard to explain. But I think they both really fit well with carnival theme of the level with their upbeat and cheery tunes.

    @Blue Blood said better than I could on Ice Cap and Launch Base. I do prefer the MJ tracks a lot for those two levels though.
  4. I don't mind them myself , I never thought the originals were that good or special in the 1st place .
  5. cartridgeculture


    Wiki Contributor Member
    Hm, lemme give them a listen... Ok! Here are my opinions:

    Carnival Night 1
    I like this one. Bouncy and fun, but a bit underwhelming. This one feels really well-assembled, strong "happy fairground" vibes. Light and whimsical, and the drums are fun and exciting. Seriously the drums are very well-done. I dig a lot about the instruments and the composition, and I like it, but this one needs a bit more work to make it shine, I think.

    Carnival Night 2
    This is actually a really funky song, very groove-focused and makes you wanna shake your hips. But only if you chop off that off-putting intro. There are some interesting sounds and instruments going on but its a little boring too, not my favorite but nothing terrible. Could be vastly improved with better lead composition to match the general grooviness.

    Ice Cap 1
    This one. This is the one. This is the best of all these tracks. tbh there's not like a whole lot of "track" there, variety-wise, but what is here feels like they stumbled onto something magical. This is the sound of Sonic bouncing around a snowy ski resort or having fun in some forest of snow-capped pine trees. I think they nailed the whole "snow level" in terms of sounds; that jaunty little flute going up and down in the background at that pitch, alongside the lead, really does make something special.

    Ice Cap 2
    It's like the first one but the whistling lead is even higher pitch. A lot of these feel really unchanged from the Sonic 3 proto... Stick to the first one I guess.

    Launch Base 1
    This one's kinda funny. Starts off with that one "airplane-y" motif from Pale Blue Yonder (i think idk) before going like full slow poppy eurodance. Really tried with this one, almost got into it. It's like there's someone excitedly jumping up and down with their fist in the air at some weird dance party, and sometimes I'm down for that, but this one really doesn't work out. However, the section with the repeated beats could be a lot of fun if the song was reworked around that kind of energy and with more varied composition. And made less "serious" in tone.

    Launch Base 2
    A funky little thing. Sounds like menu music, like we're setting up multiplayer mode. I dig it. Second half could use more work, that trumpet-ish instrument sounds flat, plus there's a part where the lead instrument does like a rising "dun-uh, DUN-UH, DUN- UHH!!!" thing that's really out of place from what's otherwise a pretty well wrapped-up thing. Rework that and this is one of the better ones.

    Are those all of them? I don't actually own the game. Anyway, make sure your video game music library includes the Sonic 3 proto soundtrack. These songs are fun and worth a listen, especially if you like the music from Sonic games. These kinda feel like someone finding a bunch of studio demos from a favorite band... and I'm always down to hear more from the people behind Sonic 3.
  6. Forte


    I speak better after three beers Member
    I played the game in Sonic & Knuckles PC Collection for the first time. Later playing the Mega Drive version, I didn't even notice that anything had changed in the music. I mean, I sensed subconsciously that something was different - but I didn't pay much attention to it.

    I like both versions of the soundtracks, although I have my favorites.

    Carnival Night - Proto.
    Ice Cap - MJ Team
    Launch Base - Proto.

    Am i biased? I don't know. Maybe yes maybe no.

    All I know is, it's really unacceptable to put out a game that sounds like this.
    As consumers, we deserve better.
  7. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    I had S1, S2, and S&K on the Mega Drive and didn't even know there was a Sonic 3 until I got the collection for my Windows 98 PC, so technically that was the first version I heard.

    I like the Mega Drive tracks better, but I wish they had actual Act 2 remixes and not just "half the band had to go home early".
  8. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    (Of course, I agree with you about soundtracks being massively influential in how we see a game, but) This is wild to me because I would never describe MJ Ice Cap as a "downbeat wasteland". If anything, it's the high point in Sonic 3, so much more full of energy and gusto than the stage that came before and the stage that comes next. It's not upbeat, especially compared with the proto Ice Cap, but it brings out the adrenaline of exploring a cave full of movement and life and beautiful crystals that nevertheless hurt you. Not a wasteland at all, quite the other way around.

    Then again, I played Sonic CD (US) way before Sonic 3, so my frame of reference for "downbeat wasteland" may be heavily skewed.
  9. saxman


    Oldbie Tech Member
    I like all the songs, but I do have preferences here. I'm providing below what I prefer, as well as what I think probably fits the levels best regardless of my listening preferences...

    The MJ track is fun and fits the level perfectly. But the proto track fits it well too, just in a different way. MJ probably fits it slightly better, but my listening preference is the proto.

    Pretty much the same feeling as with act 1. I will say that the proto song has this caribbean feel to it which I think is just slightly out of place. But it's not bad.

    Both are enjoyable. The proto track is a lot more elaborate than the MJ track which I have always felt was a little too simplistic. I always felt the MJ track was over-glorified by fans and never had it in my top 10. But I like it nonetheless. I probably prefer the MJ track both in terms of listening and how well it fits the level. But honestly, in many respects, it's a toss up. Both fit well, but they also very different from each other. I will also add that it sounds like the proto track is incomplete (where are the drums?). That hurts it just a bit.

    The drums help the proto track. I also think I probably prefer listening to the proto track, because the MJ track isn't as exciting as act 1.

    I don't get people who say the MJ track does fit the level. It fits perfectly. It says "oh man, some real !@#$ is going down!". It sounds like a last-level song with the dominant bass. It's really catchy too. It's my favorite song in the entirety of S3&K.

    The proto track is fine, and *sort of* matches the level. It sounds like a big factory with some awe-inspiring power melody letting you know this is a BIG deal, because you're moving in to stop Robotnik. But it is simply not as fun to listen to.

    The MJ track is interesting here, because even though it's mostly just dropped instruments, then hearing the bass by itself really sounds nice. The rest of the instrumentation would otherwise distract from how cool that bass line really is.

    The proto track is fine. I like act 2 better. It has that caribbean thing going on again like CNZ2. I still think it does come close to the MJ track though.

    And that's it. And of course if you disagree, you have a right to be wrong.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
  10. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    I tend to favor the prototype music as it exists in the prototype specifically because it's arranged in a way to be more consistent with the rest of the music in the game, and has also been adjusted from what I assume are the original demo sources (presumably the shared basis for the PC collection midis and the new versions from origins). Lines pop a bit more

    It's also very clear that the prototype music still isn't completely finished -- there's an obvious bug with the looping in LBZ2 in particular that is fixable by just trimming the last rest of each channel by a value of 2. I imagine that if Ice Cap 1 had been punched up it would have used the side-hit sample that didn't exist in the prototype but was used most notably by the special stage music in the final. And of course several other tracks that are part of the Sonic 3 release order don't have their final music arrangement either -- Angel Island 2 and Hydrocity 2 (the latter of which I understand to have been an arrangement by Setsumaru that isn't based directly on a demo) are notably different as well.
  11. Forte


    I speak better after three beers Member
    I have the impression that LBZ divides the fans of the game the most.
    I do not understand the arguments that the proto version does not fit the climate of the stage and sounds like marching music.
    Despite the *specific* beginning, it progresses greatly and is a great fit for the final level. In addition, it is very Sonic-y, I would say even more than the MJ version.
  12. Lambda


    I don't think it's possible to be unbiased when discussing music, unless you just want to discuss everything in terms of strict music theory... but I'll share my thoughts on these two soundtracks in a somewhat... rambly manner.

    My history with these songs:

    So, I'm one of the few who was first exposed to Sonic 3&K through the PC collection.

    What's interesting is I was playing through the game on PC and was kinda racing a friend who was playing it on Genesis over several months (it took us quite a while to finally beat it due to the CNZ barrel and just the general difficulty of ICZ and LBZ. We were kids at the time). When I went to his house to play Sonic 3 on Genesis, I was super confused about the CNZ, ICZ, and LBZ music. I don't remember how I felt about CNZ and LBZ, but ICZ's downbeat music was really intriguing to me.

    That's just a long way to say, I heard the PC versions first, but I was also hearing the Genesis MJ versions around roughly the same time. That being said, I'm going to discuss the Prototype versions and MJ versions, as the Prototype versions blow the PC versions out of the water, IMHO. No contest.

    Preferences and discussion for each level:

    • Carnival Night Zone: I prefer the Prototype version. To be clear, the MJ Version definitely has it's thematic upsides; the darker tone makes it clear this is Robotnik's territory, and the crashing samples and Act 2 track muting work with the whole "lights out" section in Act 2. That being said, I find that the upbeat & bouncy music more fits the actual moment-to-moment gameplay of this zone. To me it's very similar to the US vs JP versions of Collision Chaos; the US one matches the visual tone of the level and gives it a cool atmosphere, but the JP version actually makes you enjoy bouncing around on all the bumpers. I tend to prefer the song which enhances the gameplay when it comes to Sonic. Also, the Prototype version gets an actual Act 2 remix; those are huuuge points in my book.

    • Ice Cap Zone: No surprises here. The MJ version is way better. Bouncy Glow's refinement of the prototype theme definitely elevates the song quite a bit with the new section they added, so the song has/had potential, but it's tough to beat MJ ICZ. CNZ had the issue where one song was better thematically and the other was better for gameplay, but ICZ does not have this problem. MJ ICZ has the perfect mix of tone and energy to carry you right though the level; it just works. I don't think much more can be said about this level theme that hasn't already been said in the 28 years it's been around for. The only let-down is that neither version has what I'd consider an actual Act 2 remix. The MJ version has track muting and the Prototype Version is much more Marble Garden Act 2 then it is HydroCity Act 2.

    • Launch Base Zone: This one is the toughest one to compare because the songs are so completely different; but I have to give the prototype the edge. Let me explain: I think MJ Act 1 is better than Prototype Act 1, but I think Prototype Act 2 is better than MJ Act 2. Prototype Act 1 sounds a little empty and flat, and doesn't have that funky groove you tend to want out of a classic Sonic song; The MJ version brings the funk and the Prototype version does not. Meanwhile, MJ Act 2's track muting is probably used to greater effect in this stage than the others by effectively driving up tension before the mid-game confrontation, but it's still just lazy track muting. Prototype Act 2 evolves Act 1's theme, gives it more energy and groove, and really drives up the excitement and momentum before the Death Egg launch. Prototype Act 2 just has more going on than MJ Act 2, and you can't have that Prototype Act 2 high without the Prototype Act 1 low; but in the end I think it's worth it. Again, this is the closest tie out of all of them. Also, I think I've heard it mentioned before in this thread, but I also have to point out the cool foreshadowing of the Death Egg's launch and subsequent crash hidden in the Prototype music shortly before the loop (Watch Alex Yard's Music Theory video on LBZ if you don't know what I'm talking about; it's a really clever insight.) The one thing the Prototype version is missing are the "GO GO GO"s... if someone put those into the Prototype tracks, I think they'd fit really well and would be my ideal version of the LBZ theme.

    Also, lets not forget the incredible Prototype theme for Competition Mode. MJ's track didn't stand a chance.

    Videos referenced in my post:

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
  13. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    I mean Act 1 is absolutely structured like a concert march (lacking at most a break strain and reprisal of the third section to match the archetypes of the form) but I consider that to be appropriate given that the track is used for an impromptu military-base set up around the crashed Death Egg.

    Act 2, and I don't know if I ever mentioned it on this site but I have other places, amuses me because it sounds like an attempt to remake Man in the Mirror. While the extended use of samples (used only for that stage's music!) in the original release makes it stick out relative to most of the other music in the game, I would have probably pegged it absent the larger context as an attempt to remix Quartz Quadrant from Sonic CD (J) in the way, say, the Robotnik boss music adapts ideas from Sonic 2's boss music, Death Egg adapts ideas from Metropolis Zone, Mushroom Hill from Emerald Hill, and Angel Island from the competition Emerald Hill music.
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  14. Josh


    Huh, it'd be cool if a mod could use the MJ Act 2 music *just* for the lights out section, and cut back into the SST track when you turn 'em back on. Think Amazing Arena from Chaotix.
  15. Lambda


    I'm pretty sure either someone made that mod for AIR, or I've at-least seen a concept video of what that'd look like. IDK if I can find it, but if I do, I'll post it.

    EDIT: Found it. It's just a concept video, but it's pretty neat.

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2022
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  16. I prefer the Buxer versions of IceCap and Launch Base, but other than that I prefer the prototypes. The prototype Carnival Night Zone Act 2 is one of my favourite songs in the game, but I don't think that's that uncommon an opinion around here.

    I do like the prototype Launch Base quite a bit too, and prototype IceCap is an earworm, it would probably be really popular if the song was in the game at release. Sucks it has to live in the shadows of Hard Times.

    I was familiar with the Buxer versions long before the prototypes.

    EDIT: Oh, I forgot to mention the Stranger in Moscow credits, one of my favourite songs in Sonic 3. I love both versions of the Sonic 3 credits themes and seeing the prototype credits play in Origins made me happy.

    I guess I'll also say the prototype Knuckles theme is my least favourite of the three, and I'm one of the few who always preferred the Sonic & Knuckles miniboss theme. Prototype competition theme is good but Buxer's is good too.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2022
  17. Grimchief


    Seven-Time TFGO (Lite) Champion Member
    I grew up with the Genesis version of Sonic 3, so I obviously have some sort of bias. Probably as a result of that, I find the MJ Team tracks better fits for the levels (CN Act 2 and LB Act 2 being especially perfect fits). That being said though, I do find the 1103 Prototype tracks good fits as well... just not as good. Again, that's probably because I grew up with the one set of tracks over the other. Love them both a lot, though. And while I find the MJ tracks more fitting for the game, I think the Proto tracks are more... listenable? As in, they're tracks I'll probably find myself listening to outside of the game. I find myself constantly listening to them and humming them in my free time, way more than the MJ team tracks (both CN acts in particular are insanely catchy). If I had to pick one, I'd pick the MJ team tracks every time, but the proto tracks really aren't that far behind.
  18. LockOnRommy11


    I grew up playing Sonic 3 on Mega Collection, it was the only game I didn’t have on Mega Drive.

    I love the final music and think it fits really well. I didn’t particularly care for the PC music, just because it didn’t sound like it fitted well. Some of that is due to the compositions, most of it is due to the soundfont.

    Having played Sonic 3C Delta however, I can say that I really do like the prototype music. I still feel that Launch Base Zone’s opening is odd, but I enjoy both soundtracks equally.

    Sonic Origins version? I’ve already expressed my great dislike of this version, and I don’t think I need to go into why.
  19. cartridgeculture


    Wiki Contributor Member

    Please listen to this version of Launch Base Zone. I don't have a point to make, this song just slaps.
  20. Axanery


    Sonic 3 was the first video game I ever played. I think that the MJ tracks are great - but so are these proto tracks. I think they're amazing and really fit the levels.

    However, I think Origins really dropped the ball on their treatment. They sounded amazing in the proto. They sounded like terrible MIDIs in Origins. I've heard a rumor that these are from an even earlier proto than the one we saw and I definitely believe that. I wish they just used the ones from the proto we saw.