This morning I finally got my hands on Data-Discs’ latest Video Game Vinyl offering, Sonic CD of Mega CD fame.
Of course, the recurring joke here will be that the CD quality audio which made Sega’s CD add-on for the Mega Drive so attractive is now available on Vinyl Record…
This release includes just the Japanese/European soundtrack. As many Sonic aficionados will already know, Sonic CD released with a totally different set of music in North America. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, though American composer Spencer Nilsen has stated the Japanese score simply wasn’t to Sega of America’s tastes, I’d like to know some more detail some day. Why Data-Discs didn’t compile the entire dual-soundtrack together in one release is also a mystery. Doing so means the classic ‘Sonic Boom’ anthem is sadly not included (‘You Can Do Anyhting’ by Keiko Utoku is also missing which is more than OK). That being said, you get a lot of bang for your buck here!
The three vinyl set put me back £34.99. As the game is built around a very complex time travel mechanic, there are actually four pieces of music tied to each stage. The first disc is dedicated the all the ‘present’ music tracks, as well as title and special stage tunes. The second disc is all of the ‘past’ tracks and the ‘good future’ tracks – the audio you hear if you succeed in going back in time to fix the future. The final disc has a single ten track side for all the ‘bad future’ music, with one empty side left over for a lovely etching of Sonic facing off with the first Eggman boss.
On top of the music, there are also three double-sided art cards, one of which provides a lengthy insight from one of the game’s Japanese composer, Naofumi Hataya (the other being Masafumi Ogata). Although he doesn’t go into the specifics of sound creation – or give any insight on why the music was changed for the states – he details the influences he took from British Club Music and the feedback given by Sonic Creator and CD Director, Naoto Oshima. Perhaps needless to say, the CD quality allowed to Sonic CD resulted in it sounding entirely separate to the rest of the Mega Drive series, and over time it’s remained very unique within the franchise. The ‘present’ tracks are delightfully bouncy with a great sample set, that truly throws you back to the nineties when heard today. But by contrast, the ‘past’ tunes step over the fun heard in the ‘present’, with an incredibly thick layer of extra ‘pep’ slathered all over those original melodies. These, along with the ‘good future’ tunes they share a disc with, are a genuine reward for players who manage to solve the game’s core time-puzzle gamplay. Of course, the ‘bad future’ versions do a fairly good job of letting you know you’ve screwed up by failing or ignoring your opportunity to time travel, though they’re not so oppressive to kill the fun entirely.
The other art cards show off screen shots of the incredible hand-animated FMV opening from Sonic CD, a final design guide for Metal Sonic, and the final badnik enemy designs. Lastly, Data-Discs have included a code for digital download, with both loss and lossless formats (1.3GB download).
For fans who were hot off the mark during the pre-order phase in June, there was a chance to grab a special edition that included two splattered vinyls for the first two discs. These are a really nice touch, though it’s a shame not everyone can get hold of them. Presumably they cost a little more to produce and help to drive sales hype by their scarcity and unique look. I’m happy to have them, and seeing the frenzied splatter effect spinning on my record player gives this a little extra ‘Sonic’ twist. it’s actually highly reminiscent of the time-travel effect experienced in the game, which can only have been intentional.
It’s worth noting, that if you own Sonic CD, you can put the disc in your CD player and listen to almost all these tracks. Still, Sonic CD is a classic, and well deserving of the attention provided in this Data-Discs set, you couldn’t hope for a much better production (there are even Sonic CD Time Stones printed on the inside of the record sleeve). Though, I would absolutely love the chance to build upon it in future with either a North American soundtrack set or just more Sonic releases in general! I’ll be watching closely for whatever the team have for us in the future.
If you’d like more info on Data-Discs, check out the Fossil Arcade Video Review fro…