A week ago to this day, Sonic: Lost World released on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, the latest in the Blue Blur's line of fast-paced games. We figured we'd take this opportunity to look back at some of our fondest soundtracks of the series. Yes, "butt rock" and all! This top ten list attempts to not factor in nostalgia in our game rankings, so we're ranking these games on things like great rhythm, melodies, the amount of songs of each soundtrack that we enjoyed, etc. However, if you feel we didn't list a classic Sonic game that you think has a better soundtrack than what we've listed, we'd love to hear your thoughts!
10) Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, XBX)
We begin our list with an interesting experiment from Sonic Team, a three-character team system. In Sonic Heroes, one character could speed through levels, one could fly, and one could smash through certain objects with their power moves. The soundtrack is vintage Jun Senoue, featuring plenty of rock, including several decidedly cheesy team themes.
9) Sonic Rush (DS)
An unorthodox Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack, Sonic Rush had the talent of the composer behind the Jet Set Radio series to elevate it into the memories of many a Sonic fan. The soundtrack featured plenty of voice samples and a groovy assortment of rhythms that makes Sonic Rush Sonic the Hedgehog's best handheld soundtrack.
8) Sonic the Hedgehog (PS3, 360)
One of three of us actually got all of the achievements on this game. What a masochist. Perhaps the only positive we can mention of Sonic the Hedgehog's 2006 atrocity is that the music was phenomenal. Though, if you are into humans kissing bipedal blue hedgehogs on the lips, then maybe you'd find more to like about this game than we did. Jun Senoue was nowhere to be found in this soundtrack, but that's alright. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) delivered many guitar-driven pieces anyway, great instrumental tracks, and one killer final boss theme.
7) Sonic Colors (Wii)
Sonic's debut on the Wii was not very good. The soundtrack was excellent, and it just barely missed the cut on this list, along with Sonic 3D Blast's Saturn version and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Regardless, while Sonic and the Sonic Rings does not have a place on this list, Sonic Colors indeed does. Its rich assortment of tracks made Sonic's space odyssey all the more exciting. Tomoya Ohtani, Kenichi Tokoi, and Hideaki Kobayashi, and Mariko Nanba all came together for an excellent Sonic the Hedgehog score.
6) Sonic Adventure (DC)
Variety is the spice of life, and if you peel the outer layer of Sonic Adventure's soundtrack's skin off, you'll uncover much more than pure rock-driven pieces. There's techno, jazz, and rap. Sonic Adventure's score was primarily written by Jun Senoue. His rock sensibilities gave the Sonic the Hedgehog series a whole new brand of attitude. While some dislike this dynamic shift, we approved as there was plenty of good music to listen to as we played.
5) Sonic Adventure 2 (DC)
We prefer Sonic Adventure 2's soundtrack to its predecessor's due to the fact that there's an even greater assortment of musical styles present. Each of the six playable characters had their own styles that represented them. Sonic had light and peppy rock, Shadow had a darker edge to his themes, Knuckles was all rap and hip-hop, Rouge had smooth jazz, etc. Also, who could forget one of the most heralded themes in post-Genesis Hedgehog history Live & Learn?
4) Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2)
After the bad taste that was left in the gaming world's mouth from Sonic the Hedgehog's seventh generation debut, Sonic Unleashed was like a breath mint. Sure, it had its moments of tasting like bile, but overall it was an improved taste. The soundtrack covered a myriad of musical genres and had sounds from all over the world, as you can witness by listening to these examples. Just note that Empire City - Night is only present in the HD versions of the game.
3) Sonic CD (SCD)
We are of the stance that prefers the North American version of the Sonic CD soundtrack. We believe it has the more memorable themes, greater rhythms, and better sounds. Spencer Nilsen, David J. Young, and Mark Crew composed the music for the North American version, imparting some smooth rock and even smoother sounding vocals. We're also suckers for Sonic Boom over Sonic - You Can Do Anything.
2) Sonic Generations (PS3, 360)
Take some of the most well known themes from the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and remix them into one grand soundtrack, and you have the music of Sonic Generations. A host of past and present Sonic Team composers worked on this magnum opus of the Blue Blur's best sounds, containing remixes of Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary, City Escape, Seaside Hill, and even lesser known themes from Sonic 3D Blast and Knuckles Chaotix. There must be some majorly terrific soundtrack to beat Sonic Generations.
1) Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)
Perhaps this is a cop-out, as we are including the entire Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles games into one (just like our based Blue Blur intended... hurt us for using a meme on this site). Regardless, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles contains the most memorable themes of the franchise, and they still sound marvelous. Most of the time old school and new school Sonic fans don't agree on much, but one thing that most of these two parties can agree upon is that the music of Sonic 3 & Knuckles is absolutely tremendous and timeless.