Game Music, Reviews

Everybody’s Super Sonic Racing To Hear Planetary Pieces From Around The World (Review)

February 23, 2009 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Everybody’s Super Sonic Racing To Hear Planetary Pieces From Around The World (Review)on Twitter

It wasn’t too long ago that we published our in-game impressions from Sonic Unleashed. We’ve finally got our hands on the official soundtrack release that hit Japan at the end of January, and while we described the majority of the music in that previous write-up, at least we’ll be able to reference real track titles and tell you about the packaging (which is great!).

Composers Tomoya Ohtani, Kenichi Tokoi, Fumie Kumatani, Hideaki Kobayashi, Takahito Eguchi, and Mariko Nanba each contribute to a varied and downright awesome album. Numerous genres abound, but the quality here is consistent and quite impressive, with a slew of session artists and even the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra performing a piece.

Join us as we take a look at the Planetary Pieces: Sonic World Adventure Original Soundtrack.

I’ll first start by saying that the track order is a bit strange, especially if there’s something in particular that you’re looking for. The music is arranged in a way that follows the progress ion of the game, but due to the fact that the day and night versions of stages are unlocked at different times, sometimes you’ll find the two complementary pieces of music on separate discs. Also, the 3-disc soundtrack is littered with brief cinematic tracks that are as short at 8 seconds In length, which, while great for the completist, makes navigating the album via CD player or iPod a little unwieldy.

Well, on to the music. The album opens with one of the game’s two vocal tracks, “Endless Possibilities,” which offers an upbeat and somewhat cheesy sound reminiscent of bands like Blink 182. It’s actually not bad compared to some of the other poppy stuff that has graced Sonic games in recent history. From here, “Cutscene – Opening” comes in as a pleasant surprise, considering I’m typically not the biggest fan of cutscene music. The epic sound is something that I would have never expected in a Sonic title.

The town of Apotos is the first stop as far as the game’s many different ethnic regions go, and the sound here is distinctly smooth jazz. “Apotos – Night” features some beautiful guitar melodies along with minimalistic percussion that gives off an image of a lazy evening in the tropics. Changing it up a bit (which the team does quite often), “Mazuri – Night” has a children’s music-like vibe to it with its whimsical woodwind melody and twangy guitar notes.

Getting to the winter region of Holoska, “Holoska Day – Icy,” features belltones that impart a feeling of chilling cold, while a fat, groovy bassline counters with warmth enough to keep you toasty and comfortable. The Holoska region stage track, “Cool Edge – Day,” has a sort of alternative rock feel with fast-paced percussion, but it remains upbeat despite the somewhat distant and icy atmosphere. It’s almost as though they wrote this one to be a vocal track in line with recent Sonic tradition, but decided to show restraint and make it an instrumental version. The “Cool Edge – Night” variation is one of my favorite tracks on the album with an insanely fatty bassline and cool string stabs that get thier groove on. This track really is my idea of how the music of the classic Genesis Sonic titles should have evolved.

Remember how I raved about the Spagonia town theme? I can’t tell you how happy I am to have “Spagonia – Night” on CD, as it’s already one of my contenders for song of the year. It’s an absolutely amazing piece of music with layers of smooth acoustic guitars, accordions, and simple side stick and hi-hat percussion. I was also quite fond of the Chun-nan region, where ethnic woodwinds and electric piano chords combine to form the sleek, jazzy, yet Asian “Chun-nan – Night” theme. The daytime versions of these pieces are also excellent, but slightly less “cool,” as they’re more upbeat and cheery. The team did a commendable job arranging the same theme twice to actually sound like… well, night and day!

I was surprised to hear what I thought was music from NiGHTS when “Empire City – Night” started playing. It’s a beautiful RNB-style track with harmonica and swanky guitars that remind me of “DREAMS DREAMS,” Dale’s favorite song of all time. “Adabat – Night,” on the other hand, is a unique track with layers of chromatic instruments that sound like they could be from a gamelan ensemble. They have a very foreign feel, even for a Japanese title!

We finally spotlight some day themes with “Jungle Joyride – Day” and “Eggman Land – Day,” both of which feature pumping electronic music. “Jungle Joyride – Day” is backed by Asian woodwinds while “Eggman Land – Day” features an interesting grunge rock backing that sounds like something out of F-Zero. “Vs. Egg Dragoon” actually takes me back to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with its funky bassline that matches perfectly with the epic brass stabs and drum ‘n’ bass percusion. It’s a heap of different styles, and it somehow still works. There’s also another noteworthy boss track that comes in at the end of the album (I won’t spoil it by revealing the track title), but it quotes the album’s opening vocal track, “Endless Possibilities,” with the vocals replaced by a full orchestra. It’s pretty intense, and this is definitely a sweet way to utilize the track again.

So yeah, there’s a ton of great music here. I feel bad that I can’t mention it all, but you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. Given the massive quantity of music, you’re likely to find something you like no matter what your musical tastes are. The album itself comes housed in a nice cardboard sleeve complete with a miniature-sized booklet (cute!) with exhaustive composer and performer credits for each track. This is definitely a much appreciated addition. There’s even a special thanks to NiGHTS composer Naofumi Hataya which makes me think “Empire City” wasn’t a mistake!  Needless to say, I recommend picking this up at VGM World despite the hefty price tag!

Do you have any thoughts regarding the music of past Sonic titles or Sonic Unleashed? Did SEGA’s risk pay off?

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