Faith in Sonic the Hedgehog
a review of the sonic franchise music
by Diyar Jabbar
Sonic The Hedgehog is a popular name in the gaming community. To most people, it is nostalgia and disappointment. To a few, it’s nostalgia and patience- hope for a Sonic game that will attract both the fans and the gaming community entirely.
Just as well known as its frenemy Mario, the name ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ is very well known. The gaming community has seen the downfall of Sonic’s story and other things that could’ve kept Sonic still at the same level as Mario, which would get someone to wonder why there are still fans of the franchise and what’s exactly keeping them going.
It’s different for many people. For some it’s the silly storyline that’s just too dry not to laugh at, or the horrible impossible-to-miss bugs and glitches the Sonic games have (specifically the god-forbidden Sonic The Hedgehog 2006, may this game rot in hell), but to a lot of us, it’s the gorgeous visuals and art direction, or even the gameplay elements. Although all the reasons the fans have for having so much love for the franchise are completely valid and logical; to me, it is mainly the music of Sonic The Hedgehog.
The epic of Sonic The Hedgehog and his furry friends in Sonic Unleashed does a good enough job in giving a classic 3D Sonic story, a journey of friendship and hope and a fight against all evil that Dr. Eggman acts upon.
The soundtracks are all so vibrant and all of them come with their different scenarios. But even when you have not played the game, when listening to Sonic Unleashed’s soundtrack you can almost just figure it out. You obviously would not figure out the actual storyline from the music, but you can fit scenarios and an entire storyline perfectly into this soundtrack.
The epic that is The World Adventure speaks for itself. It simply tells you, “Hey, you and I are going into a story that you’re going to create. A story that will only be known and imaginable by you. Pray that you are ready because from here onwards through all three volumes, it’s only you, me, and your mind. Buckle up.”
Although the Sonic Unleashed’s storyline and dialogue are not the best out there, the music makes up for it. It makes up for all of it. Even when playing the night levels, stopping for a moment to hear the faint sounds of the calming, simple and easy to vibe to songs, helps calm you from the absurdities that are the night levels of Sonic Unleashed.
I talk about Sonic Unleashed’s music like I have a deep and long connection with the game when in reality, I haven’t ever played it. Yet the game’s elements, art direction, and the levels’ different and unique environments that I’ve seen from screenshots and play-throughs caught my eye.
Sonic Unleashed’s soundtrack is different and engaging, and does very well in capturing what the entire game is meant to feel like. Even as I mentioned earlier about the night levels and with their calming juxtaposed songs in the levels, listening to the music in the night levels feels so serene and easy to listen to compared to its wonky, strange and annoying gameplay of the night levels in Sonic Unleashed.
Jacob Geller talked about a similar thing about video games (specifically horror games) and their soundtrack. I’d highly recommend watching it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aFfN4HtjEc&t=55s .
As well-known and hated the night levels are to so many, the music makes up for everything. It’s a common theme that can be seen in multiple sonic games, where Sonic Team disappoints their fans with their games but astonishes them with their eargasmic soundtracks.
This can be seen with Sonic Forces too. Sonic Forces’s whole idea of a revolution and rebellion and against the oppressor is so fresh and exciting for a Sonic game. The music, once again, does it so well. Yet the game just had so little imagination and passion, disappointing as usual but as always the music makes up for it, and always will.
Faith in a future for the Sonic franchise will only disappear when the music does not feel right.
When making a playlist of my favorite Sonic The Hedgehog songs, I noticed the variety in all the songs that correlate with their specific levels and cutscenes. From the genres, to how well the songs connect to how music sounded during the time these Sonic games were made.
Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 have this funky yet catchy vibe to their music which makes complete sense, considering how music sounded in the early 2000s and late ’90s. Listening to the official soundtrack of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 elsewhere was a whole experience for itself.
I heard songs that played before in levels I played in the game but also discovered so many gems such as “Kick The Rock (For Wild Canyon)” in Sonic Adventure 2. The song isn’t that great nor is it that catchy either, but I feel connected to it. Knuckles rapping about who he represents when talking about his race, and his lifelong destiny to protect the master emerald. As cringy and funny the song sounds I still genuinely enjoy it and feel a connection with the lyrics when Knuckles raps about who he represents and his race.
We disregard so many things when talking about videogames and how much of a heavy impact a franchise or videogame can have over a person, or even a whole fanbase of the franchise. Although I admit Sonic The Hedgehog to me is mostly nostalgia, it’s also faith. Faith in the franchise where it could genuinely be a respectable one once they put just enough passion and imagination into the game itself just as much as they do so with the music, so it could finally receive the respect it deserves.