Sonic Adventure 2 Remains as Fresh as Ever
Given that Sonic Adventure 2 is my favorite OST of all time, it was inevitable that I would write an article detailing exactly why I fell in love with this game and its soundtrack. Composed by Jun Senoue, Kenichi Tokoi, Tomoya Ohtani, Fumie Kumatani, the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack is comprised of a staggeringly diverse set of music from Drum and Bass to lounge jazz and everything in between. In order to discuss the soundtrack further, we need to start at the beginning—at “City Escape”.
Featuring the upbeat vocals of Ted Poley, “City Escape” greets players with a bubbly bassline, a simple beat, and guitars plucked from your favorite pop punk album. The song has no downtime, just like the level that it complements. Once you start running, there’s no stopping, as the course is literally all downhill until the end. The song is trying to convey a premise to the player: this is a game where you react more than you think.
As the game progresses, you uncover that Sonic is not the only playable character. He’s joined by Tails and Knuckles, who feature their own set of levels with different styles of gameplay. In the case of Tails, most of the levels are linear shooting galleries with enemies popping in and out sight like a whack-a-mole game. Knuckles’s levels revolve around a treasure hunt which has players using a homing beacon to find pieces of the Master Emerald. Of course, the score for these levels has to be appropriate for the characters.
In the case of Tails (and Eggman), there’s not much to say. Much like the Tails levels themselves, the music is mostly forgettable. Knuckles, on the other hand, features rap vocals from Hunnid-P. As a character, Knuckles is ALL about attitude, and as such, his levels feature verses about how great he is. While I can’t the say the music is necessarily reflected in the gameplay design, it does help to have some confidence-boosting music while circling Pumpkin Hill for the dozenth time looking for the Master Emerald.
Once a player completes the Hero story, they’re treated to the Dark story. The Dark story mirrors the Hero story in many ways, with Shadow being akin to Sonic, Eggman akin to Tails, and Rouge the Bat akin to Knuckles. The similarities don’t just stop at the level design—their music has similar energy as well. Shadow levels often feature drum and bass tracks, Rouge levels feature chilled-out lounge jazz, and Eggman’s levels feature forgettable rock music, just like Tails. The genres may not be exactly the same for the Dark characters as the Hero characters, but the overall mood (fast, relaxed, and forgettable) holds true.
Sonic Adventure 2 is a Smörgåsbord of sounds that deeply ties to character themes as well as level themes. From the frenzied trumpets of Metal Harbor to the smooth vocals of Security Hall, this game’s soundtrack takes players on a journey, with each track as a stepping-stone leading to the ultimate finale: fighting a giant lizard in outer space.
LIVE AND LEARN
Perhaps the most recognizable track from Sonic Adventure 2 (other than City Escape), “Live and Learn” is a rousing anthem that inspires players and gives them hope when all hope is lost (aka when the game’s hit detection stops working for the umpteenth time). I’ve never experienced the same thrill that I felt blasting through space, listening to Crush 40 and Johnny Gioeli. While the game may have aged, and the fanbase may have moved on, the soundtrack for Sonic Adventure 2 remains as fresh as ever.