Shuffle and Stories is an attempt to get a more personal look on why we feel the way we do about music. Music is like art, subjective, and that means that everyone has a different way at looking at one album or band. Every week I’ll pick from one of ten songs when my library is on shuffle and talk about the music but also talk about why I personally like it or tell any personal stories regarding the music.
From the beginning thought processes of doing Shuffle and Stories I had it in my mind that I was going to try my hardest to not talk about video game music. This wasn’t because I saw video game music as something different from non-video game music, far from it if anything, but instead it was because if this truly was going to be based on the idea of personal thoughts and stories relating to the music well then I’d most likely be talking more about my experiences with video games. However there were a couple soundtracks that I knew were going to be exceptions and one of those exceptions is 1998’s Sonic Adventure for the Sega Dreamcast.
I am guilty of being a Dreamcast fanboy of the highest degree; it is hands down my favorite console of all time. Even typing this brings me back the memories of some of the jaw-dropping games I played on that thing when I first got my hands on it. I still treasure my Dreamcast and use it regularly; I would bring it out during our parties senior year of college and have insane Chu Chu Rocket, Crazy Taxi, or Samba De Amigo competitions. It was in my eyes the definitive console to own and anyone who has not experienced some of the absolute gold in its game library needs to remedy that for their own sake.
Sonic Adventure was a launch title for the Dreamcast, coming stateside in 1999 and what a splash it made. It was Sonic’s first exploration into 3D and while it is said the game hasn’t aged well (I disagree to some extent) the Sonic Team sure nailed the feeling of speed and excitement that surrounds it. But enough about all of that, the soundtrack is what we are here for.
I tip my hat to Kenichi Tokoi, Fumie Kumatani, and sound director Jun Senoue because their work on this soundtrack is amazing. With the idea of “hot, funky, and rock n’ roll” behind it they delivered a smash hit not only in terms of how wonderful the music is but how varied and fitting it is as well. The game by no means stays inside its funky rock ideal and is instead encouraged to flow into other genres and emotions by the games level design. The Electro-influenced Tornado Scramble…For Sky Chase perfectly gives off the emotion of flying with its combination of wispy string work and bright electronic features and Blue Star…For Casinopolis drops all rock, funk, and electro influences and instead just delivers an honest to God large scale big jazz band as the backdrop. When the level design says “jump” the music asks “how high”.
There’s really not a whole lot to say about the album itself because it’s all experienced when playing the game and while I recommend the album as a whole I highly recommend playing the game if you can. Other than that it’s really just time to gush about some of the brilliant music on this near-70 song long soundtrack.
Sky Deck A Go! Go!…For Sky Deck has one of my favorite guitar riffs around and nails the sense of being a slightly-cocky adventure hero like Sonic. This song is one of the more shred-heavy songs in the game with just an abundance of great lick after great lick complete with a dastardly solo towards the end. While brief, the addition of the little organ segment is what I think really sells the song in regards to the level design where you are running through the external parts of an airship.
Crank Up The Heat!!…Final Egg comes towards the end of the game and rightfully so as it serves as the pinnacle of the “hot, funky, and rock ‘n roll” idea. With a frantically heated metallic sound, a funky instrumental section (good heavens, that wah), and some of the most screaming lead guitar riffs around the scope of the composition is just massive. There are just so many layers to the music and the emotion and tone of the sounds are positively white-hot with intensity.
Join Us 4 Happy Time…For CHAO Race is one of the best electronic-based songs in the game. It’s all in the beauty of the layering. Those bright synth sounds mesh so well with the strings and vocal sample lines. It matches the super colorful and sublimely carefree atmosphere of the Chao races perfectly (Although personally they were less than carefree because I really didn’t know what was going on in those races back then).
Sonic Adventure is a game I routinely go back and beat ever year or so, the combination of the level design and music is just so unforgettable that it’s been stuck in my head ever since I first played it all those years ago. It stands out in my book as one of the best video game soundtracks ever made for its ability to conform wonderfully to the levels they are made for but yet stand on its own as a great listen outside the game. Even being as passive of a fan of the Sonic series in general as I am (I’ve never had the urge to create my own original character) I am madly in love with this game and soundtrack to this day. A truly iconic game on a truly iconic console, long live the Dreamcast.
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