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Sonic 2 Development Lore

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Chimes, Apr 5, 2023.

Is it Miles or Tails?

  1. Miles

  2. Tails

  3. Both

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  1. saxman


    Oldbie Tech Member
    I wonder how this will line up with the song ordering. I recently started analyzing the "internal" song order to look beyond just the basic "they're in the order that they were programmed". These things can give clues into the behind-the-scenes development process.
  2. Brainulator


    Regular garden-variety member Member
    About the song tempos, I think this answer is more likely:
  3. sonicthesnot


    Not sure if that information is available anywhere. There's a chance even Masa himself might not remember the order. However, we do know that the first track he wrote was Green Hill, and then wrote the Sonic Title Opening Theme song next. I would strongly guess that the tracks were written somewhat randomly (composers will often write the 'easy' tracks first) based on when inspiration struck, that seems to be a general theme among the composers I've spoken to.

    No keyboard as Masa specifically mentioned being unable to play keyboards when he was composing the soundtrack. I'm 90-95% sure he composed it manually (i.e. punching in one note at a time) on a Roland MC 500 and wrote the MIDIs to a DAT.
  4. Eggomaticwaffles


    @sonicthesnot Thanks for the great background info on Masa's process putting these soundtracks together. I assumed it was likely midi to DAT given the era. The best bet we'd have at figuring out how these compositions factored into the overall development is if he happened to jot down a date on each DAT as he worked away (ie. 'Tropical Theme 2/22/92') That's quite amazing to think he was inputting these things note by note, but makes sense given the fact he's a bass player/guitarist.

    Bass guitar being Masa's primary instrument definitely informs why those bass line grooves are SO iconic (and musically tasty!) in both the S1 and S2 soundtracks. From a music theory POV, those lines he carved out really provide the foundation for the 'feel' of each tune and everything built on top of them.

    I don't know if we'll ever get a definitive answer on those demo tempos. However, speaking as a musician who works with a lot of pop arrangers, I will say that the 'mock ups' of these arrangements almost ALWAYS come in under the tempo they're eventually recorded at. I think initially the slower tempo helps the listener hear all the disparate musical elements a little easier.

    In fact, anecdotally, many classic Broadway and Opera composers preferred their scores be played *slower* than their intended tempos upon their debut, so the audiences would have a chance to properly comprehend the melody (and lyrics). However, as the runs of those productions went on (and if especially if they were a HIT), the composers often encouraged brisker tempos, feeling more secure that audiences now KNEW their score. Pretty fascinating! I could see Masa's tempos reflecting this desire, but also thinking ahead to the poor music programmer who had to translate the arrangements in Genesis/Mega Drive form.
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  5. Oh boy, that song sounds drunk.
  6. LF222


    Not sure about the MIDI recording itself, but i know the demos are being played through an TGX-99/SY-99, there's some good recreations of the synth out there and its very possible to recreate the demos at normal speed
  7. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    Yet there are some tracks that are not slower on the demos, like Mystic Cave 2P (a very fast song), Casino Night, boss and final boss, and special stage (and this is a fast one too).

    My wild guesses would be that they got speed up cos the game is quite fast as someone just mentioned in this thread, but also could add to it that the atmosphere of the game itself was going to change inevitably. Chemical Plant, Oil Ocean, Cyber City, all 3 sound much heavier on the demos, suitable for a future where all went to crap thanks to Eggman. Metropolis which is also very industrial has that heavier tone. If we lose that dark timeline, it doesn't make sense anymore. But, this last part could make waters everywhere cos the songs were faster from start.
  8. Papa Rafi

    Papa Rafi

    One on one, I wanna play that game toniiight ♪ Oldbie
    Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Fatherhood, husband...hood and a few mobile apps.

    Heh. That's the original demo, alright. "Haunted Circus Zone" LOL

    Sequencing around 'swing' rhythms can be tricky in general, as can programming pitch-bends. My takeaway with tracks like this is that Masa clearly knows music, but I think he just wasn't used to composing this way very often; transitioning from playing live to manually composing note-by-note can be jarring. It certainly was for me, the opposite way. The lack of length variation and velocity in certain notes, the gnarly pitch-bends, the way certain riffs present in the MD versions are missing from the demos — it all reminds me of my early days on FL Studio.

    Sonicthesnot believes that Masa possibly used the Roland MC 500. If that's indeed the one, then one look at YouTube on how to work that thing tells me everything I need to know. It looks like it's friendlier to live keyboardists than those who don't play.

    Anyway tangent over.
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  9. sonicthesnot


    The comment on swing notes is absolutely true. It's super obvious in the demo of the title theme song. Whenever the snare is meant to play a triplet (swing) 8th, the timing is never quite right and the rhythm more "square". Of course, there's no reason to spend too much time on the demos since the sound engineer could fix any warts in the final version. I'm actually kind of surprised Masa didn't compose the music MJ style - basically singing each part to a keyboardist who could've recorded it in a fraction of the time, and it'd likely sound better. I remember when I first started creating MIDIs, I didn't have a MIDI controller so I'd literally drag and drop each note into staves in Finale. Took forever and I'd often simplify complicated rhythms for the sake of time. Having to do it on a dinky MIDI sequencer with a number pad sounds like torture. Many famous guitar players who are also composers often taught themselves to play "beginner piano" solely for the purpose of being able to record basic demos.

    BTW I just spent 30 minutes trying to find that interview from around 2012 and turned up absolutely nothing.

    Regarding the tempo issue: I have no idea. Some of the demos like Hill Top Zone are almost unbearable to listen to. Some of the demos didn't change tempo between the demo and final version (Death Egg Zone before the final boss fight). The Mystic Cave demo, however, has a strong early 90s New Jack Swing feel and it's plausible Masa meant that slower tempo to be the one in the final game. For all we know, it could be a playback issue. Or the tapes got corrupted. Or the sound engineers wanted them slower for easier reproduction. I really wish we could get a definitive answer to this.

    BTW one more interesting tidbit I learned from Milpo was that when he and the sound team were programming the tracks into the game, they would actually transcribe (write out) the entire demo on paper before programming it in. Just goes to show how painstaking this process was back in the day especially with a star composer who didn't play keyboards LOL. I've spoken to other composers of the era and a huge number of them did the composition and programmed it into the game themselves.
  10. Ch1pper


    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    Word got back to Masa that the sound programmers had a hard time properly transcribing the music from his tapes for S1, so he slowed down the tempo for S2 to help with accuracy.
    I remember this explanation distinctly, but for life of me I can't remember where I came across it. :tinfoil:

    Not saying it's true. Just unsure if it's a false memory now.
  11. sonicthesnot


    It was definitely speculated to be the reason on here but I don't think we ever got official word. Sounds plausible, though.
  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Put it on the wiki,

    wiki wiki wiki.

    I am curious though - Roland's MC500 came out in 1986... while

    Yamaha's SY99 came out in 1991. So would post-date the Sonic 1 tracks. If the demos aren't being played on the correct hardware (and bearing in mind we're also pre-dating General MIDI), doesn't this invalidate all the theories about instrument selection? It really is just sequence data at that point. Does the MC500 even save the tempo?

    It wouldn't surprise me that, when it came to converting these MIDI tracks into something the Mega Drive could work with, they just ignored everything that wasn't just "musical notes". It seems like an almighty faff to reverse engineer Roland's MIDI implementation and then convert that for SMPS when they know fine well it's probably going to need heavy modification anyway.
  13. Mastered Realm

    Mastered Realm

    While we were able to reconstruct the Sonic 1 demo songs using SY99 VSTs, the songs were probably made on the SY77, which have the same basically the same hardware minus some of the effects and a smaller physical keyboard. The SY77 was released in 1989.
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  14. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    to be fair, in-game Hill Top Zone is also unbearable to listen to :thumbsup:
  15. Is it possible that the Sound Test #10 could have been originally for a scrapped bad ending? Similar to how Sonic 2 for the GG/SMS had a bad ending if the player failed to collect all emeralds. It has a very melancholy & somber feel to it. The way Masa's demo of the unused track doesn't fit a cutscene but more of an ending sequence IMO. But when the Time Travel Plot was scrapped. They repurposed it for the Super Sonic Cutscene or looped it into the Hidden Palace Zone's theme
  16. synchronizer


    #10’s demo track resolves on a pretty “happy”-sounding chord, so I doubt it has anything to do with a bad ending.
  17. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    I think that rather than being outright sad, track 10 has a nostalgic vibe to it. Somewhat melancholic while still having a bit of happiness to it if that makes sense. Which makes sense if it was composed for an ancient, forgotten place like Hidden Shrine/Palace.
  18. LockOnRommy11


    It’s been pointed out before, however the similarity of track 10 to the Sonic 1 special stages can’t be overlooked. I believe it was always Chaos Emerald related.
  19. Childish


    Pigs wiggle when they walk Member
    Shady lane
    Sonic 4 Blast Processed
    actually, at what point was it decided the special stages were going to be different than sonic 1? In the conceptual stage, potentially track 10 was originally conceived as a special stage theme.
  20. CaseyAH_


    human incarnation of Palmtree Panic 'P' Mix Member
    Well, even by Nick Arcade the S1 Special Stages were cut down to the point most/all of the art was gone, and by Simon Wai they're just gone entirely afaik, so it was likely decided upon very early to change em up from S1.
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