Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mediocre is the new awesome: The tragedy that is Sonic 4's music.

So Monday there was a leak of tracks that were possibly from Sonic 4.Of course, now that the tracks are no longer on Big the Cat's Sound Cloud site It makes you wonder if they really were the real deal (Edit: According to YouTube, Sega of Europe put the squeeze on all the leaked tunes on there, so yeah they were authentic). From what I listened to, Some of the tracks were alright, while others were kind of sub par compared to the previous 4 Sonic outings on the Genesis. However,  if you say that, then prepare to be outed for being a fickle sonic fan, but why is that? Why is in the case of Sonic we're inclined to just leave well enough alone, and "just be grateful" we're even getting a return to Sonic's roots?  Well for this entry I propose another frame of thinking: The quality of  quite a few things in gaming have pretty much gone to poo, and at this point the fan base is kind of just taking what they can get at this point.

This is probably where most fans are like "Wooh, Spiracy! What's the deal?" , but stick with me on this one, I'll explain myself. Well for openers I just want to say that no, this isn't an attack on the populace who loves Sonic 4, and want this game to be a return to the series former glory. I, personally want this game to be awesome as much as everyone else, But in order for it to be a true return to form, It needs to be that tour de force of great music, tight controls, great platforming, and speed. Lots and lots of speed. Now, I can't comment on anything else until I actually play the game for myself, but the music seriously needs work. It just really sucks that the only track that SOE has greenlighted so far has been the Splash hill zone. I guess we're just going to have to wait until the time-sensitive lock pops and gives us the remaining tracks..

Very synthy. very average. It's not a bad song, it just seems very bland for a grassland starting zone. It's really kind of ...well generic compared to the serene tones of the Green Hill Zone, the Bouncy fun nature of the Emerald Hill and Mushroom hill Zone, or the exotic tones of the Angel Island Zone.  Even when redone in the genesis sound channels it still comes across as not as engaging as the starting zone music in the prequels. 

All the tracks aren't bad. The Mad Gear Zone for instance is very catchy and sounds like you would be ready for an adventure. However, As the author of the video says it could easily fit in another game. Here is a little snippet of the tune, but just enough to give you a feel of what I'm talking about.

The Eggman/Robotnik lead in music seemed very well...goofy, and from what a couple people on GoNintendo  have posted this falls in line with Eggman's persona. Basically he comes across as a "child-like" genius, and the music reflects this. Being an old school sonic fan, who cares little for comic, cartoon, and anime continuity, I could seriously give two squirts of yellow for this information. I feel that stage bosses should be menacing and not really comical. Yes, Robotnik is a rotund egg-shaped man with skinny legs, but he's responsible for kidnapping your friends and converting them into killer robots, and there's nothing funny about kidnapping. Okay, maybe in certain circumstances it's funny. The actual boss music feels like it's paying some sort of homage to Sonic 3's final boss music, but again compared to the original tune it kind of falls flat, and lacks that added layer of depth and atmosphere that the Genesis sound chip was famous for.

The Labyrinth zone also had a kind of interesting melody to it, but I don't completely remember how it goes, which makes this article kind of sucky considering I'm lacking the music I'm critiquing. I do remember the Casino street zone, which was pretty downbeat compared to Casino Night's Ratpack-eqsue "spend all yer rings and forget that I'm in your zones stealing yer doodz" music, and it's follow up jazzier 2 player tune.  See that's another thing. I feel like the music of the older games fit with the zones perfectly. Musical composers like Masato Nakamura, Howard Drossin, Brad Buxer and even the late Michael Jackson did Sonic and his friends mighty proud in the heyday of the Genesis. Even with MJ feeling that his contributions were devalued because of the technical limitations at the time the music is still timeless and sets a very high bar for future composers.

Howard Drossin is my hero for making this track

I know that Jun Senoue the composer for Sonic 4, and he's provided music for Sonic Adventure and the Sonic tracks used in Smash Bros. Brawl, but for some reason I just feel like what's presented so far is really kind of meh. It could have more to do with it being difficult to go back to the old style of music rather than pumping out the usual pop-ish Sonic music. Perhaps Sega intentionally leaked this to gather some sort of impressions from the fans in order to gather a critique on what they have? Then again maybe I'm just looking too deeply into a mediocre soundtrack.

Source(s): GoNintendo

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