By Joseph Walter
The Sonic series was a staple of the SEGA Genesis in terms of both gameplay and musical mastery. Each game managed to put out a unique soundtrack that had a very specific "Sonic Sound," while remaining exceptionally eclectic, never shying away from unusual stylistic inspirations.
It was tough to narrow these down, as I had to cut out a few of my favorites, but I wanted to show off the songs that I felt properly exemplified the full spectrum of the "Sonic Sound."
I wonder if any of your favorites made the list! :)
10. Star Light Zone (Sonic 1)
9. Emerald Hill Zone (Sonic 2)
8. Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2)
It oozes a sinister threat, much like the goopy blue chemicals that course through the veins of this industrialized plant, or the ever-rising pink water that has drowned many a hedgehog.
7. Green Hill Zone (Sonic 1)
6. Aquatic Ruin Zone (Sonic 2)
5. Miniboss (Sonic & Knuckles)
4. Sky Sanctuary (Sonic 3 & Knuckles)
3. Blue Sphere (Sonic 3 & Knuckles)
2. Flying Battery Zone Act 2 (Sonic 3 & Knuckles)
1. Lava Reef Zone Act 1 & 2 (Sonic 3 & Knuckles)
Moody, vaguely sinister, and with an air of perilous, exploratory curiosity, "Act 1" delivers a flawless accompaniment to the cavernous, glowing, molten realm of the Lava Reef. Pay close attention to the awesome bass-line, especially at :22 and the musical climax at :30.
The accompanying music ups the mystery element to a new high, with a healthy dose of desperation added for good measure. The aura of peril is now more poignant, despite it being more subtle. Perhaps the most incredible element of the "Act 2" theme is that, much like how "Act 1" is a major departure from the typical Sonic tune, "Act 2" is a major departure from "Act 1," despite the same skeleton!
The early Sonic the Hedgehog games were exceptional for more than a few reasons, and the music, along with the "Sonic Sound," are certainly among the main ones.
As I mentioned at the start, I strongly believe these ten (eleven, if we're being honest) represent the best of the best in terms of Sonic music, whether it be from composition, the unique aura each commands, their ability to symbolically match the struggles of the gameplay, or a combination of all of the above.
If you felt I've missed out on outstanding track or two, feel free to let me know in the comments! (Keep in mind, though, that narrowing down the list was terribly difficult, so one of your favorites may have missed the cut by a centimeter! That's how tight my guidelines were!)