The Sega CD was anachronistic almost immediately upon its release, but it has its gems (or should we say emeralds?). A bulky add-on for the clinging-to-relevance Genesis, the Sega CD arrived in Japan in 1991, and a few years later in the US and Europe. The Sega CD was capable of displaying full motion video and CD-quality audio, a first for a console from a major manufacturer. While the violent content of some Sega CD titles lead to its share of controversy (and even congressional hearings) in the United States and Europe, Sega Japan was hard at work on an upgraded sequel to the Megadrive smash hit Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Sonic 2 had been developed by the Sega Technical Institute in the US with a gameplay style that emphasized speed above platforming and exploration, but Japanese gamers preferred the latter elements. The lackluster performance of Sonic 2 in Japan lead to a new direction for the Sonic CD project, resulting in what is considered one of the finest titles in the Sonic franchise. The game features a time travel element inspired by the time-slipping adventure film Back To The Future 2, with each level having 4 different variants - Past, Present in addition Good Future and Bad Futures. Sonic traverses these timelines by spinning bespoke signposts, instantly transforming the level’s color palette, enemies, and music. The music is organized on this release by timeline, then by level, leading to a more varied listening experience than if they were 4 remixes of the same track in a row. (One note about the music - The geniuses at Sega of America decided that the Japanese score wouldn’t work in the US, and they composed their own. It's not great, and it's not included in this set.) This 3 disc set collects the original version of the soundtrack that was featured in the Japanese and European editions of the game, and is a brilliant collection of Chiptune-style electronica. The Japanese soundtrack was composed by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata, who had met while working on an 8-bit adaptation of Sonic The Hedgehog. The music is primarily inspired by contemporary house and techno music of the time, with Hayata citing C+C Music Factory, Frankie Knuckles, and The KLF as influences. “I looked at how Sonic was received by the British audiences. Sonic was even seen on slipmats used by DJs in clubs. It was the early 90’s, and new types of dance music were just starting to reach Japan.” The enhanced specs of the Sega CD greatly expanded the duo's compositional possibilities, with the music no longer limited to a mere six channels of audio. “Palmtree Panic” could be an 808 State 12” played at double time - pounding piano chords, chopped and screwed samples of a cheering crowd, a quirky sax-like lead - even a breakdown with a high pass filter effect. “Wacky Workbench (Bad Future)” starts with straight-up rave klaxons, buzzsaw basslines and huge synth stabs. “Stardust Speedway (Present) ” is shimmering polyphonic synths and clockwork percussion with a hip-hop swing, “Metallic Madness (Good Future)” is rugged breaks and digital slide whistle. You can’t be in a bad mood when you’re listening to this record - even the more downtempo pieces exude a truly positive, jubilant vibe. Impress your nerdy friends by playing some pitched-down cuts from this one during your next DJ set. Packaged in a spot-gloss sleeve, this deluxe package includes three 12x12 art prints. Highly recommended.
- transparent blue colored 180g triple vinyl pressing
- spot-gloss accents on sleeve
- includes three double sided 12x12 art prints
- etched side
- limited edition
- music label: Data Discs 2019
reviewed by VECTOR THE CROCODILE 09/2019