The 16 Days of Sonic Xmas draws to a close, but don’t worry–I’m going to end things with a bang by sharing my favorite tracks from the OSTs of the 15 games I reviewed. I’ll start with a Top 15 Level BGMs List, followed by a few golden shark sticker awards for the best songs under a few special categories.
~Top 15 Sonic Level BGMs~
15. Mystic Cave Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
A very “Genesis” sounding song, and my personal favorite from Sonic 2. It definitely set the atmosphere for that stage, and the high-pitched ghostly melody is one of the most memorable bits of music in all of Sonic-dom. The ding-dingling “bells” portion gives the sense of something lurking in the shadows, creeping up on you. (Maybe Robotnik?)
14. “General Offensive” from the Sky Deck Zone (Sonic Adventure)
Many levels from Sonic Adventure feature multiple “sub-levels” that each have their own BGM, and this tune is for the second part of the Sky Deck Zone. This song goes along perfectly with the sheer mayhem of dozens of cannons and guns firing at Sonic, all while portions of the flying ship break apart around him. Great guitar riffs, and the bit where the piano enters the background is also nice. Has a bit of a Genesis feel to it all too?
13. Haunted Ship Zone (Sonic Rush Adventure)
All the songs in Sonic Rush Adventure have a cool and adventurous feel to them, and the BGM for Haunted Ship Zone does an excellent job mashing that tone with a “B-movie horror” sort of atmosphere. It’s not really spooky, as the robot pirates and ghosts are presented in a comical manner. So I hear this song as a funky Decap Attack–themed Sonic BGM of sorts. It’s a fun one.
12. Launch Base Zone: Act 1 (Sonic the Hedgehog 3)
One of the more Michael Jackson-esque tunes from Sonic 3, which makes for a unique take on the sort of BGM that gets used for a final zone in a Sonic game. The bass is awesome for this song, and I love the “Go-go-go! Go-go-go! Gogogogo!” in the background as the tempo starts to build up. 16-bit hip-hop at its finest; it’s a song that feels right at home on the Genesis.
11. “Keys the Ruin” from the Pyramid Cave Zone (Sonic Adventure 2)
The song is apparently called “Keys the Ruin,” not like… “Keys from the Ruin?” (Since it’s a level where you have to find keys in the ancient ruins?) Well, whatever! This song is great. The Sonic Adventure titles were all about sounding, well, adventurous (i.e. ROCKIN’)–and this tune somehow feels like it’s telling a kind of mystery story, with Sonic discovering long-lost truths in an ancient Egyptian tomb. There’s even three “acts” to the song, I feel like?
10. “Windy Hill” from the Wind Valley Zone (Sonic Adventure)
The Sonic franchise is a really strange fantasy involving a highly-stylized anthropomorphic hedgehog fighting a fat mad scientist with a crazy mustache, and sometimes that takes them to strangely-shaped Suessian land masses high in the stratosphere, a tornado that’s safe to travel through, and a ten-mile cheese grater road that leads to nowhere. I feel this song perfectly captures that kind of dreamlike sense of wonder, and it’s just a lovely tune in general.
9. “What U Need” from the Dead Line Zone (Sonic Rush)
“Ya don’t stop, ya proceed. This is what you need!” This is the sort of tune you get when you smash a Sonic game and a copy of Jet Set Radio together, just as can be expected when the composer is Hideki Naganuma. He absolutely nailed it with the Sonic Rush OST–you just can’t help but start head-banging when an electronica song as rockin’ as this starts to breakbeat through your ears.
8. Stardust Speedway: Bad Future (Sonic the Hedgehog CD)
Sonic CD has a strong reputation for its soundtrack, and I’ll have to agree that it’s overall pretty catchy stuff (particularly in regard to the Japan/Europe release). Stardust Speedway is perhaps the game’s most iconic zone, and in turn the “bad future” rendition is the most popular version of its BGM. Crank this up and hit the dance floor running! This tune has a lot going on, with explosive high-pitched notes getting across this is to be an epic showdown with Metal Sonic–plus a really eclectic mix of funky disc-scratching, ominous police sirens, and what I take to be a distorted Robotnik laugh track all thrown in for good measure. It’s something really different, but I dig it.
7. “Tricky Maze” from the Lost World Zone (Sonic Adventure)
Now here is a song with rhythm! A very unique tune for the Sonic franchise, and easily one of the most atmospheric songs I have experienced in a video game. One of the best things Sonic Team did for Sonic Adventure was go to Central and South America to really immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the ancient Maya and Inca ruins, which payed off wonderfully for this zone in particular. Running deeper and deeper into the underground trap-filled labyrinth of the Maya-echidna pyramid was made all the more mystical, exhilarating, and foreboding with this BGM. Love the echoing voices fading in the background, which give the sense of a long-lost history being told in the mosaics carved on every wall.
6. “Soarin’ Over the Space” from the Cosmic Wall Zone (Sonic Adventure 2)
Dr. Eggman’s levels in Sonic Adventure 2 are just jammin’! You can’t help but feel our goofy-looking mad scientist is in fact a badass when he’s stomping about in a mech, blowing shit up all around him, with tunes like this going on in the background. I like Eggman (or Robotnik, whatever), and this was my favorite song of his during this all-too-rare opportunity to play as the famous antagonist. Listening to this song, doesn’t it feel like Eggman is in fact unstoppable? The dude has sat in hundreds of vehicles that literally exploded with him still in it, and somehow he just keeps on trucking with a wicked grin, hardly even breaking a sweat. I think he deserves a world-conquering at this point!
5. Lava Reef Zone: Act 2 (Sonic and Knuckles)
The first ten seconds of this song really get to me–it’s difficult to pin down exactly what kind of feeling it’s getting across, but it’s a sound that can only get through in a 16-bit soundtrack. Perhaps it is a similar sort of tone I brought up for my #10 entry in this list (“Windy Hill”), where everything’s just surreal. At this point in the zone, you are inside a volcano–but all the lava has suddenly solidified, and everything has become a dark candy-crystal color. It’s a beautiful yet kind of sad and lonely song, going along with the sense of being all alone at the very bottom of a dangerous yet breathtaking cave–a secret fantasy world nobody else knows about. (This same song is used for the following Hidden Palace Zone as well, fittingly.)
4. Sky Babylon Zone (Sonic Rush Adventure)
I seem to have a thing for levels on sky fortresses–or perhaps it’s the music composers who really love them, as they seem to consistently go all-out with thrilling tunes for Sonic to run along with in those stages. This is my favorite song in Sonic Rush Adventure, and I love the way it plays with beat and tempo all throughout it. There’s a very cool sound to this one, what else is there to say?
3. Ice Cap Zone: Act 1 (Sonic the Hedgehog 3)
When it comes to video games in general, I have always loved snowy mountain levels. I like snow and mountains in real life, so there’s that for my explanation. And with that, it should come as no surprise that I really love the Ice Cap Zone in Sonic 3–and as luck would have it, the BGM for it is just wonderful. It’s a dramatic and imposing tune, just like the great mountain with its avalanches and curiously stacked blocks of ice. The higher-pitched notes even have an icy feel to them somehow? I really like the bass as well, which gives the sense that you’re steadily working your way through all that snow and ice. Sonic doesn’t stop for anything!
2. “Back 2 Back” from the Water Palace Zone (Sonic Rush)
Gotta include at least one more Hideki Naganuma tune in this list–and it’s this song that always comes to my mind first when I think of the Sonic Rush soundtrack. It’s good, nice, great, jammin’, cool, radical, tight, awesome, extreme, and PERFECT! Back to back! Hey! Back to back! Hey! N’ spinnin’ on the turn, n’ spinnin’ on the turntables back to back! This is a song that knows just the right amount of time to spend on each of its little segments, transitioning from one to the next seamlessly, building into and easing out of different levels of intensity without anyone even noticing. JET SET SONIC RADIOOOOOOOOO!
1. Flying Battery Zone: Act 1 (Sonic and Knuckles)
And here it is, the Sonic song I can never get tired of. The Flying Battery Zone! Everything about this song is just perfect, and captures exactly the sort of thrill and excitement I look for when rolling through a Sonic game. This zone’s BGM has a sort of “spy infiltration” feel to it when it starts out, don’t you think? It fits well with Sonic making his way through Robotnik’s aircraft armed to the teeth with all sorts of crazy weaponry. But then the song transitions into something really epic–the bit from 0:25 to 0:39 (and again from 1:05 to 1:19) gets me HYPED every time. That wailing Genesis guitar sound mixed with the fantastic beat of the background clapping–it’s just the best thing ever in old-school music. It helps that Flying Battery is easily one of the coolest levels in Sonic history, and everything going on in it is just a perfect fit with this song.
Now, it’s time for you to leave comments saying “YOU FORGOT THIS SONG!”, right? Hold on one second, I have “golden shark stickers” to award to a few more songs first.
~The Best Special Stage Song~
Special Stage (Sonic 3D Blast)
This song is an absolute riot, lol. Those trumpets! My favorite part is when the piano comes in, giving an oddly serene little tune that somehow fits amid the zany and frantic fanfare of the trumpets.
~The Best Boss Music in a Sonic Game~
Boss Theme (Sonic 2)
Probably the most iconic boss theme for a Sonic game. I was hesitant to go with this since it’s so popular, but really, it is the best. It’s a perfect mix of menacing and amusing, with a piston-pumping intro that immediately transitions into a clownish yet dark carnival tune filled with machine gun drum-tapping. Really feels like a theme song Robotnik would blast from his hoverpod as he descends upon the helpless little animals.
~The Best Vocals in a Sonic Game~
“You Can Do Anything” (Sonic the Hedgehog CD)
This is the opening theme for Sonic CD, at least in Japan and Europe. (America got “Sonic Boom” instead, which I didn’t care for.) “You Can Do Anything” is delightfully cheesy. Rather cute actually, just how positive and upbeat it is. But then there’s those wacky rap segments as well, which just seals the deal with this one.
~The Best “Calm” Sonic Song~
“At Dawn” from the Speed Highway Zone (Sonic Adventure)
Most people remember Speed Highway for its first two segments, which are appropriately fast-paced and exhilarating. But following that is the recovery: a peaceful yet catchy “another day in the city” tune that I think could get a smile out of Daft Punk once the synthesizer kicks in. I rather like it.
~The Best “Fun” Sonic Song~
Windmill Village: Mode 3 (Sonic Rush Adventure)
In this game you have a home base–an island that has what I guess is called Windmill Village. The music changes at different points in the game, and it was the “mode 3” tune that I enjoyed the most. Those kazoos! I get a kick out of them every time.
And for the final “golden star sticker,” I hereby award…
~The Best Sonic Song to Play at Your Christmas Party~
Diamond Dust Zone (Sonic 3D Blast)
Doesn’t it sound like Christmas? Merry Christmas, everyone.
Do you 100% agree with my list here? Yes? Awesome!
Don’t forget to check out all my Sonic reviews, in case you missed any:
|Sonic 1||Sonic 2||Sonic CD|
|Sonic Spinball||Sonic 3||Sonic and Knuckles|
|Sonic 3D Blast||Sonic R||Sonic Adventure|
|Sonic Shuffle||Sonic Adventure 2||Sonic Rush|
|Sonic Rush Adventure||Sonic 4||Sonic Racing Transformed|