Jump to content
Awoo.

AMBIENCE in Sonic Games


T-Min

Recommended Posts

ladies and gentlemen

 

feast your ears

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibiel0Sak34

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGz0RNjnTyY

 

What are those, you may ask?

 

What are those...glorious, glorious things that have just penetrated your ear holes and slithered down into your heart?

 

My friends, that is beauty.

 

Genuine, ethereal beauty.

 

9UiL1se.gif

 

So what does that have to do with Sonic, you may ask

 

Well...

 

A few months ago, around the time of Boom's initial trailer, I had a dream, a vision if you will. but here's the part that interested me the most, and the main reason why I felt the need to create this topic:

 

 

 

What stands out to me was that there was no music in it. They had turned it off, like in the early SLW videos of Silent Forest and such. There were no enemies, either, and as a result, the game seemed very...atmospheric, of all things. It makes me wonder what an actually ambient Sonic game might be like. (I may just make a topic about that actually...) 

Three months later, and the prophecy is finally fulfilled.

 

The game I dreamed of was beautiful in an almost ethereal way, much like the two videos I embedded above. Now...we've seen some Sonic games that arguably have atmosphere. Sonic CD, for example, had a great atmosphere in my opinion, and Unleashed was absolutely phenomenal in that regard in its own special way.

 

But have we ever had anything like...this?

 

Perhaps a blurry video doesn't quite capture the feeling of actually being in Winter Tundra in Spyro 2, walking around and taking everything in with that glorious music playing. But believe me, it's magical. Few games make me feel the way Spyro 2 does, partially on this account alone. There is a real ethereal beauty to the hub worlds in that game that time and age have not worn away. And yes, I know, I keep using the word "ethereal", because that's exactly what I'm talking about.

 

Why has Sonic, a series known for its colorful and surreal and beautiful landscapes...never had a moment like this? Something that really makes you want to take in and absorb what you're seeing...hearing...and, perhaps, in an abstract and metaphysical way...feeling?

 

Sonic games have really become so notoriously bombastic that it's like there's almost never a quiet moment. You can't just stop to smell the flowers because often there's no time, and even more often...no reason. Sonic games are more often than not gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but this is something that's sorely missing. I really want to see at least one area in a Sonic game sometime down the line attempt a real ambience - something like those Spyro 2 hub worlds. Even Spyro 2 wasn't like that all the time. All of the major levels were full of energy and awesomeness...which made those quiet and subdued moments in the hubs feel that much more special.

 

I don't know, maybe this is just a little thing, but...I feel like I really want something like this out of Sonic. Even if not a whole game, just...parts of it. Or a part, even. The closest thing to this is probably the fan-made Green Hill Paradise, and it gets its feel partially from...the freedom it gives you. I've never been too nitpicky about the exploration in Sonic games (though I certainly appreciate it a lot), but...man...we could really use something like this in a real game, couldn't we?

 

I dunno, this is just an incoherent rambling I've had in my mind for quite a while now. But what do you guys think? Would this be something to pursue?

  • Thumbs Up 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As much as I love atmosphere and ambience, I feel that Sonic (music and game-wise) needs to be progressive and have a direction. It's just best how he works. It's the energy and speed his gameplay can offer is what separates him from other platforming games.

 

I feel that this is where hub worlds come in to do a good job. Unleashed's (tho a bit too small) and Adventure's got most things right so let's look at them. They didn't feel like filler content between stages and they were things you could just have some fun moving around in, exploring. This makes the whole adventure feel connected. This can also be a good way to break from his speed.

 

Since hub worlds break from his speed after all, I believe this is where ambience can be worked in but I really do not want too many stages in itself aiming too much for freedom, since that'd work for a sandbox game but Sonic has to have direction. 

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, for me quiet, non-pumping music only has two possible places in Sonic - for hub worlds where you are invited to take it easy and go slow - and for deliberately dissonant purposes during a dramatic setting within the game's fiction.

 

For example, think End of the World Act 6 from Sonic 2006.  While the awful gameplay and long load times spoil the effect - after all the build-up of the music, for Amy's penultimate segment, the music suddenly goes very melancholic and calm compared to the other parts of the song.  The environment is no less chaotic, but it adds a real sense of heaviness to the proceedings.  I'd love to see something like that used again in a story heavy Sonic game.

 

 

Sonic: After the Sequel did this awesomely actually with the likes of Technology Tree Act 3 and Storm Station Act 3 - opting for slow songs that added a certain mood and made the levels feel more special and atmospheric compared to the laid-back upbeat music for the first two acts of TT and the seriously pumping fast-paced tunes for the first two acts of SS respectively.

 

 

It's something the Sonic series has toyed with a little... Final Fight in 3D Blast 16-bit, Lost Impact in ShTH, Aquatic Base Act 1 in Sonic 2006 - though in all these cases the songs remain just action-ish enough to not feel TOTALLY out there for Sonic.  I'd love a Sonic soundtrack to surprise me more though.

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really needs to match the scenery and the events that go on.

 

Now people say that music needs to be fast-paced in Sonic games, yet that hasn't stopped ambient music such as Lava Reef Act 2/Hidden Palace and Ice Cap from delivering such ambiance and atmosphere given it's place in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The same goes for stages such as Planet Wisp in Colors.

 

If anything, music should be scenic with the overall picture.  That's not saying I wouldn't typical expect something rapid and energetic, but there is room for having something more calm, slow paced, and atmospheric music as Sonic runs around exploring what's going on. It's the same for something that you could consider more violent and chaotic like this Lava Reef Remix I found on Newgrounds, or even those from official works like Terminal Velocity from Colors.

 

Music sets the mood just as much as the environment does, and you can get more of an experience clashing the tranquility of Sonic bolting through a stage just as you can the rapidness of it.

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that sort of low-key ambiance is ultimately something that doesn't mesh well with the nature of the series. Not stopping to smell the flowers is kind of inherent; even aside from the speed-centric boost gameplay, it's an action-based series of running, jumping, and bopping robots, and even among action platformers it stands out as being the big, fast, and loud one. When a game does try to tap into that sort of atmosphere, it's almost inevitably at the expense of the gameplay; you might get a taste of it in Unleashed's hubs (especially at night) or fooling around in UnWiished's Gaia Gates, but those experiences are pretty far removed from what most people are playing the game for.

 

It's probably not impossible to do it with more standard Sonic gameplay, but I think it would still require a very atypical experience. I can't imagine anything feeling "ethereal" while you're smashing up robots, at least.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Planet Wisp in Colors.

 

 

Now that you bring it up, I wouldn't call that song all that ambient. The song is quite the thing and works a lot with the visuals.

 

Right, the intro is very peaceful. It works a lot with the greenery. Just a bit after 0:10 though, the music starts to reflect something more frantic, more upbeat. This works a lot as by that time in the stage you'd be in the factory setting. I'd love for SEGA to experiment with interactive music (kinda like how this sorta tried to but moreso how Falk did for his Rooftop Run assignment). 

 

But anyways, yeah, I wouldn't call this song ambient, it's far from that with the bass, funk guitars, and drums but yeah it sets a wonderful mood.

 

This again makes me want to say that, for example if Planet Wisp full on ambient and lacked its upbeat elements, I don't think it'd work that beautifully. Especially with the Modern gameplay, slow relaxing music can only be used for dramatic points (like Jez stated) or hub worlds. 

 

(Just to clear up, I do agree with you Chaos, just wanted to elaborate to talk about interactive music :P)

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, I don't mind if the music slows down a bit at times. I think the music playing in the Anti-Pollution Plant level in Boom is nicely done.

Also, it's not the first time we had ambient music in a Sonic game. In fact we had some last year:

It's fast, but it's somewhat ambient. And it's bloody beautiful. One of the best Sonic tracks we've had in recent years.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvUcLu9o7vo

 

It seems this little baby has been forgotten by most.

 

I love Fakery Way's ambient music style. It relies more on a psychological feeling than "oh my fucking god this place is haunted get the fuck out now". It's also worth noting that it doesn't play in Sonic's version of Twinkle Park, but Amy's, maybe because whilst Sonic breezes through the level Amy's being chased by a giant fucking stalker robot.

 

Ambient music needs to tie into the actual situation it's trying to blend into, which is what Fakery Way did and why I love the track so damn much.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu5-psXwapA

 

Props to Trespasser as well for matching the dark, ancient, abandoned feelings of Lost Colony itself.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my god, Fakery Way...I swear that track was designed to give your nightmares, or at least play in them. Fun fact, that happened to me once. Can't remember the nightmare, but I remember that this track was playing. It's a good track though, I will say that. It's ambient, and it's creepy as fuck. And what's with the baby laugh?

Oh, could you call the Sonic CD US boss fight music ambient too? If you can, that's a really good example.

http://youtu.be/LXRrpdYlgrY

"Fun is infinite." -Majin/The Devil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really can't agree with you. It's one thing to have calmer music, like the Sonic Adventure 2 or Lost World examples posted. But the Spyro tracks you posted go beyond that. I'm sorry, but frankly they just sound... boring. Like the only way they make sense is in the game, while Sonic (Or Mario, or Mega Man, or) tracks tend to strive to stand on their own.

 

I mean, they're good, but... dull. Like a movie's orchestral track that only serves to underscore said movie. Sonic's renowed by the music even when the games are bad since they strive for something more than that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It certainly can work and I'm not absolutely against it, but I feel music should also be memorable more than anything else. Those two tracks you posted may be good music while you're playing through the game, but listening to them on their own...it's just one note being played continuously, never mind the fact that both tracks sound virtually indistinguishable from each other :V

 

 

Ambiance in video games need to have both memorable tracks and atmospheric ones. Metroid is a series that does this magnificently, because the music changes depending on the environment to many different tracks and increases the tempo during the more tense moments.

 

 

Now for Sonic, you really need to choose when it's appropriate...because Sonic is a far more actiony and fast-paced series. The music correlates to the eponymous character, fast and a quick tempo. 

 

 

In short, it can work some of the time, but not all of the time. And the tracks need to actually be tracks, as in music you can listen to while not playing.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you guys are forgetting stuff like this from Sonic Colours

 

Anyways I think that type of music goes best on the world hubs or to set the mood in cutscenes/gameplay and we've had those in various games actualy. Other than that I don't see that type of music being something common or that it fits in a fast paced game like Sonic.

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes, I feel a space stage where the music fades out once you get to space would actually be kinda powerful, in a way.  Where the music stops playing, replaced by a silent, eerie ambiance. Every sound could be slightly amplified, echoing, each foot step.

Of course, that would be the final stage. Space stages tend to be a calling card, in Sonic.

Most Sonic games focus on progressive music, but being the last stage, it may be beneficial in feeling overwhelmed with such a dramatic shift in background music -- its removal. You know, up until the final boss battle.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes, I feel a space stage where the music fades out once you get to space would actually be kinda powerful, in a way.  Where the music stops playing, replaced by a silent, eerie ambiance. Every sound could be slightly amplified, echoing, each foot step.

Of course, that would be the final stage. Space stages tend to be a calling card, in Sonic.

Most Sonic games focus on progressive music, but being the last stage, it may be beneficial in feeling overwhelmed with such a dramatic shift in background music -- its removal. You know, up until the final boss battle.

 

I don't think the silence will have much impact as moody music. Mood-based ambient music will be better here. I mean, you're gonna hear a lot of footsteps and it's gonna be fast so that won't work out too well with silence and won't really make for an awe-striking mood. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sonic games have this very specific style to them that gives it an identity, no matter how diverse. I don't mind Ambient tracks in the slightest, especially if they're good tracks in their own right and make you stop and smell the roses while playing the game. Most hub worlds obviously do a fantastic job with this, although Sonic CD's US Special stage theme ain't no slouch either.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRRHP1DfC_Y

 

The smooth guitars and synthesizer just put this in a league of its own compared to a vast majority of songs in the game, and while it does feel ambient, it still feels "cool" and 'sonic-y" in a sense- exactly what I look for in ambient Sonic tracks.

 

Now, most of you who know me well on this board will probably expect me to bash Lost World's OST if it gets brought up, but even I have to admit ambiance is one of its strong suits. Case in point, Windy Hill Act 3's theme, Careening Cavern.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMvwuJWZfTw&list=PLvNp0Boas722J0cH3q5Fp8N7F14eUW-BO&index=7

 

Hot dayum.... I wouldn't dare place this as one of the most memorable Sonic tracks in history, but its relaxed and subdued pace that eventually kicks into a jazzy piece makes for own interesting song. Definitely one of the more unique tracks in Sonic history, and I wouldn't mind seeing a couple more songs follow suit of this, in a sense.

 

I obviously can't get enough of Sonic music in general, and as I don't usually restrict myself to any musical genre, I would me more than OK with more Sonic tracks going for an ambient feel, as long as it simply tries to be an unforgettable piece of head bopping goodness that I Love from almost every Sonic soundtrack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm gonna compare this to my favorite piece of ambient sound maybe in all video games...

 

http://youtu.be/2OgAilvLkFk

 

This is the piece that plays in the beginning of the final level of Mirror's Edge. A large portion of this game is fast dashing and acrobatics, with music to match, nervous and tricky. But sometimes the game slows, you find yourself alone in an empty area, and you're faced with the strictly jumping part of the game, the puzzles. How do I reach that ledge? The game matches slower music to these sections, along with the feeling of relief that comes with not running like hell anymore, and the different gameplay of carefully timed jumps. The puzzle themes in the soundtrack are more reflective to match the pace of the game. This song plays when you enter the top level of the compound you're infiltrating, the objective. It feels like the beginning of the end of the game, and the halls and duct shafts are this gilded color that might ring and echo like the large noises and chirps in the song. Why is this song effective? Final level music, it's a climax moment. And taking advantage of the quieter parts of the game with a reflective piece like this song.

 

I think the hub world examples, Aquarium Park is a great example mentioned above, all do this to good effect. Planet Wisp's hub similarly, it sounds like a NiGHTS song or something. Lava Reef act 2 was also a great example, and it's effective because the contrast between the full on lava and the crystalline cave setting is so sharp, the blank black start to act 2, and mysterious start to the music are all cues that something different is coming up. The music foreshadows the Hidden Palace. A similar effect is used in Tidal Tempest with the silence and the echoing droplets. The first time you hear this the background displays a flowing volcano, you hear the droplets, and you roll downhill into an underwater ruin. The water zone is a slower and more ominous and tense type of level that we don't have in the series anymore.

 

The overworld in Knuckles' Chaotix cycled through different times of day according to the background, and each time it changed so did the song. Coming out from winning a special stage into music like this was wonderful. It's the timing of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you guys are forgetting stuff like this from Sonic Colours

 

Anyways I think that type of music goes best on the world hubs or to set the mood in cutscenes/gameplay and we've had those in various games actualy. Other than that I don't see that type of music being something common or that it fits in a fast paced game like Sonic.

 

Thing is, that, compared to what OP posted, has a beat, a melody, etc. Infinitely more interesting to listen to on its own.

 

EDIT: As does the Mirror's Edge piece above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe not quite the same as what the OP was talking about, but when FEZ came out I was taken back to an atmosphere I wanted Sonic to explore when I was a little kid: What if there was a Metroidvania Sonic game? I have no idea why I thought this sort of music would match how a Sonic game in that style would work. but ever since the idea formed in my mind I've had an incredibly hard time shaking it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlV_e-eNuS8

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_DFp-XbKQo

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that for most of the time you can't have purely ambient music in a Sonic game, though a lot of this thread seems to have been dedicated to undermining the idea of purely ambient music.  But I think you can add ambient elements to a musical track, maybe context-specific ones.  On the other hand, I do think that Sonic's very speed can be used to support the right kind of ambience.  Picture a level that isn't a narrow obstacle course of a corridor, but something far more wide open, empty, almost untouched.  Well, I think this is the kind of thing that's been touched on in this thread before, but the very fact that Sonic can move so quickly can be used to reinforce the sense of such an area as wide open and empty, because he can traverse it more rapidly and prove the extent of the emptiness.  Of course, that's a highly context-specific situation.  You could only really get away with that maybe once.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.