don't click here

The "Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles" Quest for Music Composer Research

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by T.Q., Nov 18, 2019.

Choose your favorite soundtrack version:

  1. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 -- Prototype / PC

  2. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 -- Mega Drive / Sega Genesis

  3. Sonic [3] & Knuckles -- Mega Drive / Sega Genesis

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    My opinion is that a lot of people gave the songs a fair chance when they found out they were at some point going to be used in Sonic 3. I say that because that's what I did. I'll be honest, when I first found out the Sonic 3 tracks were replaced in PC Collection, and the fandom routinely mocked them, I didn't really give them a fair listen. I didn't even listen to most of them the whole way through or pay them attention when I did listen to them out of curiosity's sake.

    When I found out about the prototype, I listened to the songs, very sceptically and even thinking they could be placeholders, but grew to accept that Carnival Night, Competition and Launch Base have incredible proto tracks. I like the others a lot too now.

    But I don't think I would ever have done so if I didn't know that the tracks were going to be in Genesis Sonic 3 at some point.

    And while I accept that some people may have approached the tracks differently in the Genesis soundfonts, I think the majority of people changed their stance simply because the songs have more legitimacy now. It's not that the songs have become good, but that we always took them for granted until now. There's hardly any remixes of the songs on Youtube even.
  2. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    I personally always prefered the PC version of Launch Base (okay, Act 2 not that much) and Carnival Night, while never heard of the credits. Ice Cap, well, even though it sounds really nice on the proto, I really like the final Buxer version.

    But in overall, yeah, the MIDIs doesn't sound good compared to the genesis counterpart. Something that could be MUCH better in terms of instrumentation, channels and percussion ends up sounding terrible.
  3. McAleeCh


    For me, it's always been that the proto/PC tracks give each stage a very different feel - for example, the final Ice Cap tracks give it quite a 'frozen wasteland' sort of feel, whereas the proto/PC tracks are more in the 'winter wonderland' vein. So as someone familiar with the final release, seeing each stage with quite a different atmosphere seemed pretty jarring. It's very interesting, then, to now find out that these alternative takes were actually the development team's original intention for the overall feel of each stage!

    Of course, in terms of proto vs. PC, it helps that the Mega Drive versions sound much nicer than the General MIDI versions on the PC sountrack. Not just from the instrumentation, either - the tempo of CNZ Act 1 in the proto seems much more fitting for the stage than the overly-pacy PC equivalent, plus the key it's in sounds a little more interesting.

    Makes me wonder, though - is the PC version simply more reflective of the original demo track, or of a later stage of development? Could the same key/tempo tweaks have been made to the proto version in a later build before it was discarded...? Of course, short of finding another later proto there's no way of knowing...
  4. PhotonSeek


    That's possible, although from what I see he's fairly active on SoundCloud, with many of his likes being newly released songs.

    Who knows, though. If a week passes and he doesn't respond I'll assume he's deliberately ignored me.
  5. Despatche


    The problem is that "MIDIs" aren't really what people think they are. MIDI is not a sound format. It's a format for sheet music, which is interpreted by hardware or software that has its own sounds. The MIDI files in S&KC can be whatever you want them to be. There were changes made to the PC versions of the songs (compared to the proto) that might make them sound better or worse, but that consideration comes after realizing what MIDI truly is, and the actual changes are fairly minor stuff for the most part.

    This is lot of why and how Sonic 3 Complete added these songs to the project. It would be much better to compare the songs in this proto to either ValleyBell's port of the PC songs in S3C, or to the S&KC MIDI files being run through the kind of hardware that most people would have had for MIDI at the time. The thing about the latter is that you wouldn't get the FM sound unless you had an Ad Lib or a Sound Blaster or something (and it may not necessarily sound right as is), though other typical MIDI hardware/software tends to produce some decent results all the same.

    All this aside, you gotta remember that because people grew up with the tracks we know, they have these specific ideas of what the level is supposed to be like, which in turn reinforces how they feel about the tracks. Same exact graphics, yet a change in music changes the whole perception of a level for some reason. The proto tracks and the now-original midboss theme are more in line with the rest of the game's soundtrack (including S&K, that's clearly why the midboss theme is in it!), especially when you compare some of the act 2s together. It's very similar to how people think the American Sonic CD soundtrack is more "deep", even though it's completely unfitting with the visuals and sounds like pretty typical CD-based game music of this period (and it was put together pretty much at the last minute), or that the original soundtrack is too "conventional for Sonic", even though it doesn't sound like any other Sonic game except maybe-sorta-kinda the Master System/Game Gear game those specific composers worked on (Sonic 2).

    Things like the above are why I'm glad this proto came out, why I'm glad the European version of Sonic CD used the original soundtrack, why I'm glad the near-release build of the American version of Sonic CD with the original soundtrack came out, etc. I am ever so hoping for a version of Sonic 3 Complete with all this proto stuff added in.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  6. Noah Copeland

    Noah Copeland

    I was with you until here. I don't find the USA CD soundtrack to be unfitting with the visuals. But I'm clearly in the minority cause errbody hates the USA ost! xD

    But yes, you are totally right our perception is based off what we are used to.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  7. LockOnRommy11


    You’re not, it’s a fantastic soundtrack and possibly my favourite game soundtrack of all time.

    I just can’t get over how unfitting Launch Base Act 1’s original theme is. Maybe it’s not helped by the cringey opening fanfare but it doesn’t feel fitting for a zone which has intentionally menacing artwork of the Death Egg in the background showing its eyes in Sonic’s direction.

    Contrast this with the first stage of the end boss of Sonic and Knuckles, creeping up on you to crush you with it’s hands and it’s deathly hollow yet glaring eyes facing you. The music here is spot on and sounds how the artwork feels and i’m not basing this off my own preconceptions. It’s hard to go from Sonic 2’s creepy evil Death Egg theme to ‘Weeeeeeeyyyy happy party time!”.

    I’m sure they replaced these tracks for the right reason, Michael Jackson being involved in the end product or not. They’re not bad, but a couple tracks aren’t as fitting in my opinion.
  8. sonicthesnot


    At this point I don't know what to think. I wouldn't be shocked if the next plot twist is that all (or nearly all) the S3&K tracks in the game were actually written by MJ & his crew.

    I still think that Marble Garden (and possibly Hydrocity) are MJ tracks. The feel is straight up MJ and I don't think it's ever been disproven with 100% certainty that someone else wrote those.

    And WTF was up with Roger Hector's comments? This guy was supposed overseeing Sonic 3's development and of everything he's stated - literally the opposite actually occurred. :eyebrow:
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  9. PhotonSeek


    It’s possible that the composers were told to compose their tracks in a style similar to MJ, or some of them just happened to be influenced by MJ’s music. (like how many composers are inspired by YMO, and it shows) Takaoka did state she composed Marble Garden, although there’s always the slim possibility her track didn’t make it into the game.
  10. Qjimbo


    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    A tweet from the composer herself isn't 100% certainty?
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 2
    • List
  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Just to say in that in the interests of consistency (and keeping things together) the contents of this page will go here:

    Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Development/Music

    I've yet to add the musicians and references.
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  12. Qjimbo


    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    In that case, I will work on the tables on that page shortly with the same data and we can work on it there. Thanks!
  13. sonicthesnot


    All she says is she composed a level called Marble Garden, but there was no link for her to listen to so she could verify her track actually made it in. By that same argument Ciricco also wrote Hydrocity and Marble Garden because he said he wrote cues for levels 2&3...

    She also claims to have written a bonus stage track for the game but didn't recognize and of the bonus stage tracks sent to her.

    I'm not saying she didn't write it, just that we've heard this story before.
  14. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    Ha, I think it might be because the MIDI tracks' synths sound cheap and awful, whereas they fit in better with the production of the Genesis. Great drums though.

    Speaking of production, who did the sound programming for final Icecap zone? It has some extremely modern-sounding backing synth production in the background (more obvious in Act 2 due to the stripped-down composition), and if it's Senoue who did it, it'd blow my mind given his otherwise annoying meowing-cat synth style.


    Also how on earth is Hydrocity an MJ track when the stage made it into Mania with a Tee Lopes rearrange?

    (sigh) The Sonic Mania Plus release doesn't even have liner notes.
  15. Pengi


    Hydrocity's BGM was in Sonic Generations as well.

    At this point we know which tracks are the problematic ones and which ones aren't.
  16. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    I can't think how the PC/proto version of Launch Base can be more unfitting and less menacing than the final music, like if it were menacing or something. That music along Carnival Night's make me want to complete the zone as soon as I can to get rid of it.
  17. Azookara


    yup Member
    I've been playing Sonic 3 AIR with them in it (added via Gamebanana mod) and it's shocking how well they work.

    When heard them beside the other songs, you really start to notice how the MJ team's contributions sound completely different while these keep a consistency. The game sticks to an upbeat 'islandy' vibe throughout the first half and then transitions into the dramatic near the end, which is a bit different from the moody and atmospheric roller-coaster the ones we're used to put you on.

    I'm starting to like this soundtrack as much as the MJ one? It's weird. Almost like Sonic CD US vs JP (or 3D Blast Saturn vs Genesis.. geez, this has happened a lot huh) in how both are very different but are valid takes on the settings they fit over.

    I realize I'm getting a bit off-topic bringing that up, so I have to mention I'm especially interested now to see who did what on these. I feel like if I were to make an assumption, Hydrocity's composer might be who did the original CN and LB? Their act 2s develop in similar ways.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
  18. Naean


    Naean H.F. (Nez Man) Member
    United Kingdom
    2D. Sonic Fan Game
    The biggest problem I have with this matter is when artists use the term "level(s)", it's vague and confusing because Sonic 3 & Knuckles has individual Acts, whole Zones, and individual Bonus Stages. Do they mean "level" = Act or "level" = Zone?

    For example, if an artist says "I did music for level 2", is that "level 2" meaning Zone 1 Act 2, or both Acts of Zone 2, or just one Act of Zone 2? Without artists being specific, this leaves a fair bit of uncertainty in the air, especially since Act 1 and Act 2 of plural-Act Zones may not always share the same artist(s).

    Furthermore, wherever possible artists should directly name the Acts/Zones that they worked on, and not reference by using level numbers. Zone order can change during development (And this was definitely the case for Sonic 3 & Knuckles.), potentially resulting with inaccurate recollection of what Acts/Zones/etcetera they actually worked on. Additionally, there are 3 Bonus Stages, each with individual music tracks, so a generic crediting of only "Bonus Stage" isn't that helpful either.

    Also, when artists say non-specific things like "did music for" or "worked on music for", do they mean re-arrangement of an existing composition by another artist, or both arrangement and composition, or something else?

    I fully understand that all of what I said is regarding optimal scenarios and communication, which is not always possible. Nevertheless, I think that it is crucial to bear these issues in mind. These details are important if we are to document credits accurately. :)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
  19. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    Yeah, funnily enough for me I would say that the proto/PC Launch Base Zone 2 has more in common with Man in the Mirror than LBZ Genesis does with any of MJ's tunes I'm familiar with. LBZ and the Sonic 3 miniboss ironically wind up having a lot in common stylistically with the Sonic CD J/E music, which might be why they were chosen for inclusion.
  20. Alexbt


    TheRetroHobbyist Oldbie
    Lots to go through.

    First, I don't think the MJ team music was simply 'snuck' into the game because the team members are credited, and that would take more effort to get their names into the ending credits reel. It also legitimizes their inclusion in the game.

    As I talked about in the main thread, I think that the music in the beta is from an earlier point in development than the date would suggest, going with the 2P competition theory. If the rest of the game is older, the music is an earlier build as well. The sound team seems to be responsible for sequencing and programming the music for the engine.

    I'm less likely to think that the MJ team did their own programming.
    They likely provided mockups created with their own synths and resources. Check GameHut on YouTube for Jun Senoue's demos from Sonic 3D Blast as an example for the kind of mockups the programmers would be given.

    I do think that the composers could have been presented with renderings of the in-game audio to provide comments for corrections, as we see from the beta some of the SEGA team tunes are a bit different than their final renderings -- we can also assume that the PC Collection tunes would also receive further development, unless they turned into unfinished placeholders at some point, knowing that the MJ team tunes would be replacing them.

    I have a lot of comparing between the MIDIs of the PC Collection and the beta and final versions of Sonic 3 Genesis to do before I may have any other ideas and theories. I've not spent much time with the PC Collection at all, but the last time I had it running on a machine I recall some things sounding odd arrangement-wise from the Genesis tunes.