The Top 25 Soundtracks 2012: Number 13

Number 13: Sonic Colors

It's pretty much a known quantity that if you go anywhere online to discuss video games, the Sonic the Hedgehog series will be the acknowledged butt-monkey. A.K.A. the butt of all the jokes, the one that never gets any credit for anything good, the one that will always be a failure in the eyes of the public. Well, for the most part that reputation is sadly deserved. While the original series was well loved, it's late 90s attempts to reinvent itself in 3D (complete with cheesy 80s-90s rock replacing the electronic dance music of the original series) started out merely OK and then slowly made small up and down movements. With more down then up, culminating in one of the most truly awful and bug ridden games ever released: Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, a title so bad that not only did one of the key minds behind Sonic (Yuji Naka) quite in disgust halfway through development, but the game actually ret-cons itself out of existence if you can manage to suffer through to the end. Which isn't worth it. And that;s just the tip of the iceberg.

It was bad.

Since that embarrassment however, Sega's stepped back and decided to put some effort into bringing the series back to the success it used to be. It took some time, and a few false starts. But then last year Sega came out with the first Sonic game in over a decade that weathered the storm: Sonic Colors. It got high reviews, sold incredibly well, and oh did I mention that similar to the title before it, it had ditched the cheese-rock and gone back to the older Sonic style?

Sonic Colors is, for those unfamiliar with the classic Sonic sound, a primarily instrumental soundtrack with heavy dance and electronica influences. This is after all the series that started out with a J-Pop group doing the sound and then moved on to Michael Jackson in it's first few titles. So if you would expect the soundtrack to a game set in a giant interstellar amusement park in a series known for it's catchy tunes to have an upbeat smile inducing soundtrack, you'd be completely right. While it' doesn't earn a perfect score, Sonic Colors does score highly on Enjoyment and Emotional Reaction, because this music is just so freaking happy! It's a lot like listening to catchy sugar, your brain starts to buzz and before you know it you are smiling like an idiot.

Sonic Color's has a lot of other high points that make it worth listening to as well. Despite its ability to give you diabetes just by hearing it, the music is actually very well composed, with quite a bit of variety in sound and style as well as instrumentation. Of course it helps that like the Sonic title to come before it Colors has a multitude of composers, five in fact, to make sure that the entire soundtrack sounds varied but stays true to the solid roots of the series. Again, much like the title before it, not only does it work but it works well, with each composer bringing different instruments and genre adaptations to the table. Take for example this blend of big-band with funk, which is as unexpected as it is fun to listen to.

Interestingly enough however this wide variety of composers doesn't hurt the soundtracks overall cohesiveness. Even with a wide range of sound, Sonic Colors never really reaches the point where it begins to feel as if some songs don't belong. Even with it's later songs (or with it's boss tunes) you never quite lose the upbeat feel that the opening songs set.

Sonic Colors is a great example of a soundtrack done right. It sets itself up in it's early moments and then stays true to that original goal throughout its entire length. It even pokes fun at the series earlier cheesiness while keeping it's own cheesy songs firmly in the smile-inducing territory. The closing credits theme for example is something that sounds slightly cheesy but is so infectiously happy that you find yourself tapping along to beat, or if you're slightly less willed, singing along with in quick time.

Sonic Colors if one of the few soundtracks on this list that could earn a recommendation purely on its upbeat and happy style, but there is plenty more to like about it. Colors scores highest on Game Representation and follows with very high scores in both Enjoyment and Emotional Reaction. It also grabs a great bonus point for Non-Gamer Enjoyment, something that was slightly shocking to discover but also proof of the soundtracks incredibly happy appeal.

Sonic Colors
Enjoyment: 4.5
Stand Alone Quality: 4
Composition:  4
Emotional Reaction: 4.5
Game Representation: 4.75
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Nostalgia: 0
Total: 4.55

To the point, Sonic Colors is a soundtrack that can weather any sort of difficulty. It's happy, grin inducing, sugary stuff that wouldn't feel out of place at DisneyWorld, and with comparison behind it has no problem bouncing and leaping, full of smiles, into 13th place.

Number 13--Sonic Colors by Kenichi Tokoi, Tomoya Ohtani, Fumie Kumatani, Marika Nanba, and Hideaki Kobayashi (hereafter Various)

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