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Sega of America originally wanted to use its own music for Sonic 2

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Gryson, Mar 8, 2021.

  1. Gryson


    Building off of this thread, I have a bit more to add from that Phantasy Star dojinshi published in 2018.

    • Sega of America first went to the Sonic 2 team and asked them to use music written in-house for the game. The Sonic 2 team was appalled at how bad the music was and strongly rejected it. After that, they were able to get Dreams Come True to do the music.
    • Also, apparently Naoto Ohshima never knew that the Sonic CD music was changed for North America.
    So, in an interview conducted in 2017 and published in 2018 on the topic of Phantasy Star, Yasushi Yamaguchi (Judy Totoya), Naoto Ohshima, and Izuho Numata (Ippo) offered a few tidbits about Sonic history as well. I've translated the following excerpt concerning Sonic 2's music.

    Oh, and I should add a forewarning: Clearly Naoto Ohshima is confusing Michael Jackson's involvement in Sonic 2 with Sonic 3, so please refrain from spreading rumors that MJ worked on Sonic 2 ;)

    In the interview, '--' and 'SST' refer to the interviewers.

    Observations: So I guess we have to add "rejected Sonic 2 music" to the list of things left to uncover?

    I wonder how all of this relates to SOA's desire to change the Sonic CD music. They seemed to have the belief that Americans wouldn't like the Japanese music. There also might have been pressure to make use of their own personnel since they were paying them.

    It's funny that Naoto Ohshima didn't know the Sonic CD music was changed. Does that just reflect on Ohshima himself, or did SOA just not tell anyone and changed it on their own? If the latter, that might explain why they could only change the redbook audio.

    Although I think it's clear Ohshima was confusing Michael Jackson's involvement with Sonic 3, Yamaguchi does say that he vaguely recalls MJ being mentioned during Sonic 2's development, so there might have been some tentative work on the partnership then.
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  2. RDNexus


    Quite interesting, that. Since Sonic2 SoA tried to get their mark on the games.
    Almost succeeded with Sonic3, hadn't MJ gotten into all that mess...
    But, well, if they said the SoA OST samples were awful, then I guess I can feel blessed for Sonic2 having OST by DCT.
  3. Linkabel


    To this day it's so weird to me that SoA thought Americans wouldn't like the music in Sonic CD, so not surprised they attempted the same for S2.

    Now that I think about it, was there another Japanese game where the same thing happened with the music getting replaced? I know of certain things changing due to censors or localization, but can't think of an instance other than Sonic where the soundtrack got replaced.
  4. LucasMadword


    LucasSaturn Member
    I would love to hear the attempt that was so appalling, would be great to archive. Unfortunately I would anticiplate that it won't show up, not for a long while if at all. It's also interesting to find out that they weren't aware the US release of CD had different music, I knew SoA didn't tell them much, but that's just ridiculous.
  5. brandonj


    Hmm, so that might explain why those unused tracks that got found a couple years ago were made?

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  6. CaseyAH_


    human incarnation of Palmtree Panic 'P' Mix Member
    Sega of America apparently wanted "a more 'rich and complex' soundtrack" for CD which is why they changed it, which is pretty laughable to me because most of the US Soundtrack really doesn't seem much more compositionally complex then their JP counterparts. I wonder if someone higher-up just had a vendetta against JP music or something silly like that.
  7. RDNexus


    They probably just wanted some credit where the japanese were due.
    Wasn't there, at the time, some sort of rivalry between SoJ and SoA?
  8. Gryson


    Cool. I wasn't aware of this.

    I suspect it's similar to the game cover art scenario. Most of the Japanese cover art could have been used for the NA Genesis releases, but the SOA management had to 1) justify their jobs (making sure everything was made suitable for the American market) and 2) support their internal staff by giving them work. It didn't matter that a lot of the Genesis cover art ended up being... not quite as good (I'm looking at you, Shadow Dancer!).

    This is related to the concept of bike-shedding. Trivial meddling from management to justify their jobs.
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  9. Yash


    CHOCOLATE! Member
    I mean, look at anime. Anime distributors in the 90s changed the musical scores for basically any anime that was dubbed for mainstream audiences (i.e. anything that was aired on television, especially children's television) to the point where you'd be harder pressed to find a show that actually did retain its original soundtrack.

    Seems like the process sort of died out in the 00s (in general, there are still anime series today that do that), but it never seemed to catch on with video games. Feels like anytime soundtracks are swapped out between releases, it has more to do with licensing issues than anything.

    The fact that Sonic CD did it and turned out pretty well has always been fascinating to me, although needless to say, I'm glad they didn't really make a habit of it.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
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  10. Deep Dive Devin

    Deep Dive Devin

    Goblin Sex Researcher Member
    Honestly really glad this didn't happen, trend-setter or not. It's generally a pretty dumb and horrible practice to replace music in localization, but mostly it's just because it's always worse! I have never seen a replacement OST for a game or show that was better, not once.
  11. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    Sonic CD’s was. :ruby:
  12. nineko


    I am the Holy Cat Tech Member
    The Italian Mediaset network has always been quite guilty of that, though some of the later ones are actually pretty good.
  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    I don't think it's quite that bad - we look at Sega of America's localisations now and question what the point of it all was, but Nintendo were doing this from day one too. There was a genuine belief, rightly or wrongly, that games had to be "Americanised" for people to be interested.

    I suspect it's because traditionally there's been a reluctance to import goods, i.e. self-sufficient America producing American products for Americans. The thought of Japan making the most popular video games on its own - that country that "lost" World War II, that America spent years overseeing and shaping in their image - it can't be "better" than US firms, surely!?

    It's a way of thinking that doesn't resonate as well in the UK. For example, nobody buys British cars here because we expect them to be crap.
  14. Pengi


    Masato Nishimura briefly mentioned the Sonic CD soundtrack change on Twitter once:


    Google Translated: I vividly remember that the replacement of songs on the overseas version of Sonic CD was very annoying. However, at that time, it could not go against SOA.
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  15. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Going by the underwhelming rushjob that was the American Sonic CD soundtrack (they gave Spencer less than a month to record it), I'm not surprised this soundtrack SoA tried to put in S2 was so awful. I'm just glad they didn't get to do that with more games.

    Still, it would be interesting to listen to it. Maybe SoA used it in other games after it was rejected?
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
  16. Gryson


    True. I mean, Sega of America built a whole development and publishing business during the Mega Drive era on the model that Americans prefer American-made games. Were they right? Well, that's an impossible question to answer, but nowadays the Japanese-developed games enjoy far more popularity (see this recent list on Sega-16 -- only 2 of the Top 20 user-voted games were not developed in Japan/by Japanese).

    Adding to this: Sony was an early example of a Japanese company going completely against their American management when the PlayStation was released. A quote from the book Revolutionaries at Sony:

    'First he [Michael Schulhof - CEO of Sony Corp of America] objected to the color of the console. [He] insisted that gray was unacceptable in the U.S. market, and that the console must be white. Neither did he like the design or the logo mark. Their approach was to object to everything on grounds such as the results of market research: "We can't accept such an unusual controller. The design is too small for American hands." What is more, they insisted that they would set the U.S. list price themselves and they disapproved of the name PlayStation. The "Play" in PlayStation, they said, was reminiscent of "Playboy" and might be misconstrued. With one issue after another, the criticism was relentless.

    '...Maruyama carefully assessed the likelihood that U.S. management would respect the intentions of management in Japan. He concluded that it would be impossible for managers steeped in the conventions of the game industry, and he decided to replace the lot except for a select few. In January of 1996, Sony established subsidiary SCEI America in San Francisco, simultaneously replacing most of the managers and launching a new management team. Maruyama comments: "We swept the organization clean of all the old obstacles. We realized that we had to manage our own business."'

    Sony's American management hated everything about the PlayStation. Sony's solution: fire them all. Things seem to have worked out OK.

    Interesting. Thanks.
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  17. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    Funny how the US branch is the one running things these days.
  18. RDNexus


    Still, PlayStation as we know it might've failed or not gone as far as it did if they'd listened to those folks, at the time.
  19. Brainulator


    Regular garden-variety member Member
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  20. Azookara


    yup Member
    I feel like anything I hear about Sega of America's involvement outside of marketing the Genesis pretty well in the early 90s was just terrible.

    Kinda makes sense out of why SoJ and SoA were always at each other's throats. lol