Sonic Origins has had its fair share of controversies, with the latest being the inferior quality of the music in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
Sonic the Hedgehog is having a good year everywhere but in video games. His second live action film was an even bigger hit than the first, but his more virtual adventures are already aggravating fans. Sonic Frontiers looks less than impressive, but that’s arguably expected of the hedgehog’s lackluster 3D games. Sadly, even a surefire hit in the form of classic Sonic games being re-released is making fans lose their rings.
Sonic Origins puts all five of the classic console Sonic the Hedgehog titles on modern systems, but an odd choice in audio makes the experience less than ideal. Already the source of musical controversy, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is only the latest “scandal” concerning the recently released compilation. Here’s why the game’s music is anything but a sonic boom to fans.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 has some of the franchise’s most familiar and iconic earworms, namely the themes for Angel Island Zone. This game started the musical trend for the franchise where the music for the second Act of a Zone is a remix of the first’s. Unfortunately, the man behind a lot of these tunes is the reason why they can’t show up in later releases. None other than Michael Jackson was involved with the early musical development of Sonic 3, as he was actually a big fan of the series.
Unfortunately, he ended up breaking off his involvement with the project, but many of the levels that he supposedly composed music for retained their themes when the game first came out. When it was re-released for the PC, however, these tracks were completely different. This was allegedly due to them being a licensing liability given Jackson’s involvement. The PC and later releases instead used the music from the prototype that had been developed before the King of Pop came on board. The most notable example of this was the level Ice Cap Zone, a track that’s essentially just an instrumental version of The Jetzons’ “Hard Times.” Sadly for fans hoping for an authentic Sega Genesis experience, the “original” tracks are still absent in Sonic Origins.
Jun Senoue, who’s been a musical collaborator for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise for years, was put in charge of handling the persnickety music for the third game in Sonic Origins. Instead of using Jackson’s more popular score, Origins adapts the music from the prototype version of the game. Though this is likely disappointing enough, the actual quality of the music is worse than the most heinous plots of the diabolical Dr. Robotnik.
Senoue re-recorded the tracks from the Sonic 3 prototype, and the result is musical tracks of far inferior quality. The audio and instrumentation level is much lower, and it feels like a bad MIDI conversion instead of the work of a video game music veteran. This is compounding the game’s other issues, namely the fact that basic features are locked behind DLC. Such money-grubbing tactics are despised in modern games, but doing so with classic Sonic titles takes the avarice cake. Ironically, the music fiasco doesn’t seem to affect the time-traveling sequel Sonic CD, which also had its own situations involving music changes.
It just goes to show how badly Sega has mishandled Sonic and his property, with disappointment constantly emerging from what should be easy victory. The franchise has sunken so low that even Sonic’s best moments are being run through the mud by his parent company. This also shows why Sonic Mania was so successful, as it was actually a fan project that Sega and Sonic Team didn’t develop. The games that they do touch, however, frequently launch only to become stains on Sonic’s reputation. Perhaps fans will be able to overlook some of the more problematic aspects of Sonic Origins and simply enjoy an old-school experience — however, the bad music is only one element keeping that from happening.
Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing.
A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.