The Valentine’s Day release of the already meme-filled “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie reminds us of all the fond memories surrounding our favorite blue hedgehog. Over the years, Sonic has dashed his way into multiple generations and this latest big budget film may catch the eye of a new one.
One element of the Sonic franchise that sets itself apart from other games is the easily recognizable music. For those who have played Sonic since its genesis or discovered the games through the release of the Nintendo GameCube console, there’s a certain sentimental feeling associated with the dozens of its soundtracks.
In preparation for the new film, here are eight random songs—ranging from instrumental to vocal tracks—that will make you want to dig up your childhood games.
“Green Hill Zone” from “Sonic the Hedgehog” (1991)
This wouldn’t be a proper Sonic list without mentioning the song that started it all. This classic track, composed by Masato Nakamura, is behind arguably one of the most iconic video game stages of all time. It’s difficult enough to listen to the track without humming to the infectious melody, or even envisioning the checkered hills and bright green palm tree leaves.
“Stardust Speedway (Bad Future)” from “Sonic CD” (1993)
This Mortal Kombat, futuristic-sounding track filled the atmosphere of Sonic’s first race with Metal Sonic. The catchiness of the piano and the interesting ad-libs stand out from the rock centric sounds found in the bosses of later games—switching off between intense and playful.
“IceCap Zone (Act I)” from “Sonic the Hedgehog 3” (1994)
This particular piece encapsulates one of the most interesting elements of the series’ history, which is the fascinating debate on Michael Jackson’s involvement with the “Sonic 3” score.
Over the years, fans have investigated the similarities between the game’s music and some of Jackson’s biggest hits—particularly this track, which many have noticed resembles melodic aspects of “Smooth Criminal” and “Who Is It.” Later on, it was revealed “IceCap Zone” shares more of a resemblance with “Hard Times” by the Jetzons. It turned out that Brad Buxer, Jackson’s longtime musical director, had a hand in composing both the Sonic track and the new discovery.
There are many more elements to Jackson’s connection with Sonic, but either way, this track is the perfect song for snowboarding—just as Sonic does in the first fifteen seconds of the stage.
“Open Your Heart” from “Sonic Adventure” (1998)
As Sonic emerged into the 3D era, the music shifted as well. The series received way more head-banging, hard rock jams all thanks to Crush40. Acting as both the main theme and final boss for the Dreamcast debut, the track is the ultimate compliment to the intensity of a final stage. It transports you right back to a flooded Station Square—calling for Super Sonic having to dart through Perfect Chaos.
“Escape the City” from “Sonic Adventure 2” (2001)
Nothing compares to the rush you get when Sonic jumps out of the G.U.N. helicopter during the first cutscene of “Sonic Adventure 2,” knowing the iconic “City Escape” stage is about to unfold. This track is the first to have fully audible lyrics throughout the entirety of a Sonic stage. Any diehard or casual Sonic fan has at least, in one point of their lives, screamed these lyrics word for word.
“Fly In the Freedom” from “Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)
Within the Sonic world, character theme songs can either be a hit or miss. For instance, there’s the cringeworthy, yet legendary lyrics of “unlike Sonic I don’t chuckle/I’d rather flex my muscles” from Knuckles’ theme. And if you were wondering, yes, those are the actual lyrics.
“Fly In the Freedom,” Rouge the Bat’s theme, perfectly coincides with her personality. The track drifts from the abundance of rock in the game’s soundtrack and switches to a more lush, jazzy vibe—giving off the feeling of a sly treasure hunter.
“Follow Me” from “Sonic Heroes” (2003)
The theme of Team Rose—consisting of Amy, Cream the Rabbit and Big the Cat—may seem like an unlikely choice because of its cheesiness. The theme of Amy professing her love to Sonic is still present, but it is miles ahead of the odd lyrics to “My Sweet Passion” from the Sonic Adventure series. Setting that aside, you cannot deny the catchiness and bubblegum pop joy it embraces.
“Wrapped In Black” from “Sonic Rush” (2005)
“Sonic Rush,” the first Sonic game released for the original Nintendo DS, is often overlooked when it comes to its gameplay and music. This final boss track incorporates fast-paced strings and, interestingly enough, samples from a famous quote from Malcolm X’s “Message to the Grass Roots” speech. This proves that the musical creativity didn’t just stem from the big console games, but the handheld ones too.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.