The 21st anniversary celebrations for Sonic the Hedgehog have already started here at Gaming Rocks On. I have well over 300 Sonic tracks on my music player and as I play more and more Sonic games, I've no doubt more will be added to the list. Here's a small (very small) selection of Sonic tunes that I love.
Bridge Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear)
Despite sharing the same name and a few zones as it's console brother, Sonic the Hedgehog on the Game Gear is it's own game. Some of the game's music was composed by Yuzo Koshiro and the humble Bridge Zone is one of his compositions. As the name suggests, the stage is mostly made up out of bridges. It would have made a nice zone for Sonic Generations on the 3DS.
Aqua Lake Zone - Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear)
Were you Sonic die-hards expecting Green Hills Zone in the place of this track? It's a sweet song and made even better on Sonic CD, but if we're just talking Game Gear Sonic 2 music, I think Aqua Lake Zone sounds a million times better. This is a peaceful underwater theme that is sometimes at odds with the difficulty of the zone. Not only is drowning an issue, at times you'll have to use a bubble to float upwards while shooting arrows try to hit you. If Sonic gets enough speed he can bounce across water, skipping some underwater sections entirely. Fun fact: this game released one day before the Genesis version of Sonic 2, making the Game Gear version Tails' debut.
Hidden Palace Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
Whenever I was in the options menu on Sonic 2, I'd cycle through the sound test to hear the music. I eventually stumbled across this beautiful track. But I never once heard it in the game, no matter how many times I played it. Many fans saw this as the theme for Hidden Palace Zone, a stage that was cut from the game. The official soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 lists it as a generic "Unused Song." One of the most magnificent pieces of music from a Sonic game never got used. Such a pity.
Tidal Tempest 'B' Mix (US ver.) - Sonic CD (SCD, PSN, XBLA)
Sonic CD has a time travel aspect. The third act of every zone is the future. If you travel to the past in act 1 or 2 to destroy the generators, you make a good future. If you don't the future will be bad. Tidal Tempest is one of my favorite underwater zones in all the Sonic games and screwing up is totally worth it just to hear this music. Failure has never sounded so awesome.
Lava Powerhouse - Sonic Spinball (Genesis)
Sonic has always had pinball elements so a pinball game seems like a natural fit. Sonic Spinball ended up being one of the better Sonic experiments made by Sega's American branch. At only four levels, you can probably beat the game in a day, but Showdown, the final level will make you want to go postal. Toxic Caves as a great theme but since it's so the obvious choice for a Sonic Spinball tune, I went with the also excellent Lava Powerhouse. Sonic Spinball is also the only Sonic game to feature the Freedom Fighter cast from the SatAM Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series.
Chrome Gadget Zone - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Genesis)
The competition stages could have used the same music from Sonic 3 & Knuckles single player zones, but thankfully, new music was composed for these super short romps. Chrome Gadget was one of my favorite zones to time attack because of it's industrial level design and fantastic background music.
Sunset Park Zone Act 3 - Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear)
Called Sonic & Tails 2 in Japan, Act 3 of Sunset Park begins right after you cross the goal post of Act 2. The music for Act 3 is completely different from what you heard in Acts 1-2. You're running on a moving train fighting Badniks, jumping from cargo car to cargo car. It's one of the best sections in the game. The only downside is that all the enemies attacking you gets in the way of this fav favorite piece of music. This game featured the second appearance of Metal Sonic and the debut of Knack the Weasel also known as Fang the Sniper in Japan.
Aurora Icefield [Black Bed] - Sonic the Fighters (Arcade)
While it certainly isn't the best Sonic game, Sonic the Fighters is far from the worst. Any game that lets you pound the crap outta Amy is OK with me. The game also had quite the lively soundtrack thanks to the Maki Morrow and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi. This theme plays on Bark the Polar Bear's stage, a character that's been in even less games than Mighty the Armadillo.
Tornado Scramble - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)
Sonic Adventure was full of so many great moments. Running from the killer whale in Emerald Coast, snowboarding in Icecap, and getting sucked up by that twister in Windy Valley. Chasing after the Egg Carrier in the Tornado? Freaking awesome. Even better, Tails outfitted that sucker with guns! The theme for Sky Chase, Tornado Scramble makes aerial combat exciting even it it is pretty simple.
Jeh Jeh Rocket - Sonic Rush (DS)
Anyone that thinks only console Sonic games count has probably never played the Advance Trilogy or Sonic Rush. It makes good use of both screens on the DS, looks great and has a marvelous soundtrack with one of the composers being Hideki Naganuma, a man well known for his work on both Jet Set Radio titles. You'll hear the adrenaline filled Jeh Jeh Rocket in Huge Crisis Zone.