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DAY 13 - Music Track of the Week 2: 'Opening Stage' [30DOS22]

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It's Monday! That means it's time to talk about Music in today's Music Track of the Week!

If this is your first time participating, you'll get the following badge:

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If this is your second time participating, you'll get the following badge:

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You now have until the end of the month to take part!

Music Track of the Week

Favourite Opening Stage Theme

First impressions are everything. A good opening stage really helps set the mood for a video game - for Sonic, these stages are usually areas covered in tropical green hues and clear blue skies. As a result, a great accompanying soundtrack aims to complement not only the stage and the overall game's tone, but be energetic enough for you to want to blast through the Zone and carry on towards beating Eggman.

Share your favourite first-stage Sonic themes here, and please post why!

I'll go first!

Sonic 3D Flickies' Island might not be everyone's first choice when it comes to Sonic games, but the soundtrack on the Mega Drive/Genesis version was fantastic throughout. Considering how the actual game played, the music had no business being as good as it was. As it happened, Jun Senoue really showed off what he was capable of here, evolving his craft since his work on Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

Green Grove Zone was a slog to get through (but then so was the game!), but the theme to the stage was sheer 16-bit Sonic perfection. It captures the entire essence of 'Blue Skies SEGA' as well as Sonic's energetic vibe, the rhythm pushing the player on to find those Flickies and save the day. In fact, it's so good that Senoue-san famously re-used the piece and remade it for a stage in Sonic Adventure (along with Panic Puppet Act 1's theme)!

What's your favourite?

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Hoping this counts

Such an energetic first stage song that gets you in the zone for racking up a high score. If not this then Emerald Hill is top notch. It's pretty much 'Welcome to the next stage in Sonic the Hedgehog'.

 

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The inner child in me will always love Emerald Hill Zone from Sonic 2...it just seemed more awsome, urgent, and upbeat than Green Hill Zone. Plus its not been over-used like Green Hill.

 

However, one modern track I do love (I think its an opening stage) is Wave Ocean (The Water's Edge) from Sonic 06 which was also on the sonic generations ltd ed. cd. Its just so chilled and happy and really does a good job of catching a tropical island mood

 

Between the two though... it's Emerald Hill!!!

 

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Iron Gate, the first stage of SA2 - if you played the dark story first, of course!

In many ways, this stage and track are like the opposite of City Escape - fitting, as it's a level centered around Sonic's arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman!

While City Escape is a high-speed rush through the outdoors to escape the military, Iron Gate is a slow-yet-powerful charge into the military's base as Eggman blasts everything in his path to reach his target. The song itself compliments this level excellently, feeling like a slight remix of the doctor's vocal theme, E.G.G.M.A.N. in some places. The unique instrumental style sets the tone for the rest of Eggman's levels as well - differentiating his (and the other five characters') stages into their own unique musical genres, which was something I always really liked about this game.

The only thing I've never been sure of is the song's title. "Remember me? M.F.M." What does this cryptic abbreviation stand for? I've seen some suggest it might stand for "My first mission," in reference to this being the first time Eggman was playable in a mainline platformer, but I'm not sure if that's right.

Either way, Iron Gate kicks off Eggman's story in SA2 - and it gets my seriously hyped every time I play it. It may not be my favorite of Eggman's levels or level themes (that honor goes to Cosmic Wall), but as a first stage goes, it more than gets the job done. Great song for a great intro stage for a great game.

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Had to go with Windmill Isle (Day) from Sonic Unleashed on this one!

Growing up my appreciation for Jazz music has only grown stronger as I used to perform in a Vocal Jazz group myself for awhile, and that experience has reaffirmed my feeling that Windmill Isle is a really awesome take on Bossa Nova music specifically because it mixes elements of Hip Hop & Drum and Bass production in it, basically mixing my favorite genres into one! I think it’s a fun way to open up the game since the track does compliment the visuals extremely well here, as it genuinely does feel like a track you’d love to hear on a nice sunny day walking through your favorite part of town. I even used to blast this and Apotos’ daytime hub theme on my iPod while walking to school just to get myself in a calm mood! Without a doubt one of my most favorite songs from the series, and honestly I feel like Unleashed in general had one of the series’ best soundtracks for sure!

 

Edited by qt.steeph
Forgot to mention the Drum and Bass influence, oops!
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I'll have to echo the call for Escape From The City. (even though I actually prefer the Generations Act 2 version)

Even after playing Sonic Adventure 1 and expecting  more of Jun's guitar work, this tracks blasts in and stands out. The energy of the bassline and the addition of lyrics immediately makes the song different to anything we've heard in the previous entry. I'd be lying if I said the kinetic energy of the stage itself didn't help, but the best music should work hand in hand with the stage design to create a memorable experience and that's what we've got here.

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Yeah forgive me for being basic, but Nakamura-san knocked it right out of the park with this. Green Hill Zone is the most iconic theme in the series (second to maybe City Escape) for a good reason. 

From that triumphant fanfare celebrating Sonic's grand debut into the world to the catchy, happy main melody that introduces the chill-inducing backing string instrumentation on that second loop, finishing with the somber but hopeful bridge before it loops back to the main hook is something that always stuck with me...

...and they never looped that intro fanfare. It's as if those beginning notes are the 15 second countdown before the rest of your adventure, and it's funny that my only complaint I can lob towards any official remix of the track is that they do loop that fanfare, making it less special. 

Gotta go with the OG, not because it was first, but because it left the best possible impression. I know we're sick of Green Hill, but dang dude it still slaps.

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I have so many but I wanna give a special shout out to sonic advance 2's leaf forest zone:

This was the first game owned and played that introduced me to green eyed modern sonic. The fast paced upbeat track in the game got me pumped for a new 2d adventure to rescue sonic's friends. Going really fast in the stage helped too and act 2 was even better. I'd go to the sound test and listen to this track a lot.

Honorable mentions would be sonic cd's pamtree panic(US) and sonic 2's emerald hill zone. Palm tree panic.

For 3d games:

My first owned modern 3d game. This theme holds a nostalgic place in my heart. A very fitting song for a first stage and it just feels very lively, even experiencing it with all 4 teams. Goes well with the ocean aestetics. Makes me remember the time when I was playing this game on ps2 and I had no memory card so I pretended like I was playing this game on a genesis lol. It was closest to the aesthetics of the classic games at the time anyway and the music really reinforced that too by being so up beat.

 

Honorable mentions: Windly and ripply, city escape, and tropical resort.

 

I forgot to mention lost valley. While it comes from a most hated sonic game, this track is still a banger for a first stage. Has the same energy as leaf forest and is really upbeat to get you pumping for what's next. What's missing is that it's not used in a better designed level but the music really does capture the freedom that is sonic in some ways. 

 

Edited by A super No.1 washedupgamer
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There are some brilliant opening stage tracks out there. Emerald Hill, City Escape, Seaside Hill... but personally, my favourite comes from a certain DS game:

Rush's soundtrack was so unlike what I'd heard from Sonic at that point (considering I also had no idea what a "Jet Set Radio" was either, back then) so to get these kinds of bops from the opening stage was... a little odd at first, but I grew to love the soundtrack over time. I think it manages to carry over the energetic feel of Advance 2 and 3's opening stage tracks (both of which I really like, too) while also bringing in Hideki Naganuma's trademark audio mixing to create something that, even with the DS' okay-but-not-spectacular audio quality, sounds so lively!

Definitely a great first impression for that once-new boost formula.

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Palmtree Panic JP!

I love this track. The song just exudes a high spirits and a positive energy that fits perfectly with how lush, green, and beautiful the environment of Palmtree Panic is. To me this stage was the "green hill" trope perfected. It's especially a crazy contrast since most people's first playthroughs of this game will take them to the bad future, so hearing this joyful song get completely distorted and seeing the land go totally gray, plant life dead, and machines everywhere is some serious whiplash for a first time player.

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It's City Escape for me as well, no contest... by far.

Other people already posted it and explained the reasons, there's not much to add, the song is just great and fits the level theme very well.

The song is catchy and fun, and it has a mix of rock and ska in it.

I also like 3D Blast's first stage music (along with its remix in Windy Valley in Sonic Adventure), Palmtree Panic (present JP) and Advance 2 and 3's first stages songs too, maybe there are more.

Since I only mentioned songs that were already selected by other people, I want to bring in another song just so I can contribute with something more original.

I'm surprised that nobody mentioned this yet, Angel Island's first act music is very good, and it's really refreshing when you come from Sonic 1 and 2: for the first time, the game has a main theme that's not just Sonic vs Eggman: "exploring a tropical island", it even influenced the style of the HUD and the menu. This song is great at representing Sonic's gameplay and the tropical theme at the same time. As you progress in the game, the tropical theme becomes less prominent, but as an introduction to this mysterious new island, this song is just perfect. (to be fair though, Palmtree Panic already did the tropical song thing before Sonic 3, but... I think Angel Island is more coherent with the atmosphere of the stage)

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I'm going to cheat slightly and say the modern version of Green Hill Zone from Sonic Generations. It's modern Sonic's first stage, so it still counts, right? Even Mania failed to elicit the sense of joy that hearing this song for the first time filled me with. This song was an old thing that I loved made into a new thing to love.

But if cheating isn't allowed, I'll say my second choice is City Escape. Per the save data on my GameCube memory card I've played the level well over 500 times over the past twenty years, and the music really is the biggest reason I've gone back to the stage so very many times. It just works so well as an introduction to Sonic on his latest adventure.

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In the wider context of the whole series, it's probably City Escape - I talked before in the "how did you get into Sonic" that the first impression City Escape gave was what got me BACK into Sonic, and how it expanded my mind on what video game music could be etc.  But since that's the common choice, the second one that comes to mind is:

"Through Traffic", from Riders ZG.  I love me an opening stage scenario (and matching theme) that isn't just happy sunny first level lalala.  Adventure 2 provides that in an upbeat way, but man, ZG's theme really got me excited for a new story and experience.

I'm particularly prone to such interesting openings since my first game was Sonic 2 8-bit.  To this day I love that they went for the bold choice to open with a lava stage with cool, adrenaline-pumping music over a friendly, upbeat grassland/tropical stage.  While "city stage" is the 2nd most common opening trope for Sonic, Megalo Station still felt unique for the way it went straight into gameplay from the intro cut-scene's tense scenario and a fairly atypical colour scheme for a first stage.  The tense music completed the package.  It's just a shame that, on first booting up the game, that experience is tainted by them throwing a few short, pace-breaking tutorials at you with the same music.  Aside from that wrinkle though, this really set me up for the game's unique, slightly grittier feeling techno aesthetic they went for over the first game's sleek but unremarkable settings and palettes.

 

Honourable mentions for me would be the aforementioned Underground Zone, Leaf Forest Zone and Sand Oasis.  White Acropolis could be a contender but since you can't play White Acropolis as a first stage before clearing it as Sonic's third, that doesn't really count.

And oh how I wish wish Forces' Sunset Heights had been the opener as first implied rather than halfway through the game for a multitude of reasons, but that song being the best opening stage theme ever for me if it had been granted such an honour is one of said reasons.

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My favorite is probably Seaside Hill and following that, the nostalgia of City Escape.

However, since both of those were picked, I do feel it important to give special mention to another favorite of mine that originates from a personal guilty pleasure.

 

I only have fond memories of this game. It's awful. Absolutely. But I can still play it and have fun. The emotional core behind what it was trying to accomplish still managed to hit me and I can somehow feel all of it concentrated within this track.

 

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what can I really say that hasn't been said at this point?

It's City Escape, it will always be Escape From The City, it's mathematical, it is what it is.

 

But for discussion's sake, let me just link this one real quick, from a game that I don't think I have ever finished, but was, for better or worse, my first step in the world of VideoGame Sonic.

 

Sonic Spinball is a mess, but it's a small, little, american funky action mess of a game. And Toxic Caves welcomes you into this nonsensical, "oh crap Sonic 3 is getting delayed, we gotta cook up something on the spot, throw in the characters from that US show that we are airing, G.I. Joe with funny animals" world. And that's what you are going to hear over and over, and that's what you are going to associate with this game for years to come. Because you are not getting past the first level. And if you did, you are probably lying or dead.

 

By the way, it is my opinion that the Pinball minigame in Generations should have been Toxic Caves. The stars were aligned, the stage was set, and nothing came out of it.  Such a shame.

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There's so many great ones so it's hard to choose. City Escape to me in many ways is probably the most iconic and recognizable, even if I don't want to say it's my top favorite, Seaside Hill is also great and comes from the first 3D Sonic game that I ever played, Windmill Isle is extremely catchy and just makes me want to go fast, and Tropical Resort is just a jam along with the rest of Colors excellent soundtrack.

I think I'm going to go with Emerald Coast though, since I love that level and so many memories come flooding back to me when I hear that song, and it's a song that I often return to and listen on my own. SA1 is easily the Sonic game that I've replayed the most out of any other, and Emerald Coast is always the first thing I experience and it never grows old, so this song has to be my number one out of a wave of so many other great selections. 

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I spent all morning and noon trying to think of a more hype, more perfect example than Escape from the City, and I just can't. It's one of the best songs and levels in the entire series and no other Sonic game I've played has had a level filling me with excitement the way City Escape's theme does. Maybe Unleashed has like, the best cinematic intro or whatever but City Escape had you actually playing the intro.

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I have a few first stage tracks that I have never been able to pick between as an outright favourite but three of them have already been posted (Leaf Forest and Seaside Hill and Windmill Isle ) so I'll use this one.

Defiantly not the best track in Sonic history and I do think the other 3 I mentioned are better as music but the shear weight of the nostalgia that this track gives me is enough to put it up along side the others for me personally.

 

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Palmtree Panic Jp Present & Good Future. Feels like I'm at a carnival and I wanna dance! Fucking love these tracks. Can't help but smile every time I play PP.

 

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