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On Running Feuds
Sonic CD vs. Die Hard Game Fan
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 31, 2002   |   Episode 16 (Show Archive)  

   

DOES MUSIC MATTER?: It's only been recently that video games were able to give us actually well written and performed music. Thanks to the invent of the CD, DVD, and other digital medias, videogamers can finally dance along to their video game like they are a kid in those Peanuts cartoons. But all these technologies only allow gamers to become more and more picky about what they hear.
It used to be that gamers didn't actually care what they heard on screen. It could be bleeps and bloops and nobody would complain. But now we live in a society that demands the highest quality in their audio. But is changing the music in a game enough to warrant an almost 30 point drop in it's review?

The U.S. publication seems to think so. They originally scored Sonic CD with four 100%'s in a row. However, when they reviewed the game with it's new Americanized soundtrack, it received a set of scores in the 70% range. Below are the before, and after reviews.

DOES MUSIC MATTER?:

SKID: "How does one describe the perfect action game? I think everybody needs to experience Sonic CD for themselves. All I can say is that, from opening to ending, it is pure gaming bliss. From the smooth opening to the 3D bonus rounds to the awesome music, this game screams 16-Bit perfection. It is also one of the longest games of its kind . beat this one (for real) and you've arrived."


REDUX: "I was not aware of the drastic changes that were to take place in the soundtrack for Sonic CD when we reviewed it back in issue 11. The incredible soundtrack is what really got me into the game, it was perfect! In fact, it was the best BGM I had ever heard. The new tunes just don't go with the game. It's a shame that U.S. gamers will never get to experience the feeling the original developers intended. It was really something special."


SGT. GAMER: "If Sega had released this game a year ago, nobody would be talking about 32 or 64-Bits. Sonic CD is an outstanding game that really shows off the strengths of the Sega CD. If you don't own a CD and Batman Returns wasn't enough to convince you, this will . the odds-on favorite of the year!"


REDUX: "Let's face it, Sonic CD is a great game. Everyone with a CD will buy it and probably love it. Not knowing what the original music is like they may like the music too, although I will admit that the original tunes were some of the best I have ever heard and fit the game and Sonic like a glove. I think U.S. cut would have been better served in a slower game, but it is still quality stuff. Bottom line though, it's still Sonic and therefore, still recommended.


K. LEE: "Heaven on earth has arrived in the form of Sonic CD. To call this game a masterpiece is a gross understatement. So I think: 'too good to be true' is more appropriate. Music? The best. Play control? Perfect. Graphics? Awesome. Long Levels? Of course. Competition? Get real. Sega has now rewritten all the rules. The best action game of all time? Believe it."


REDUX: "Why! Why would anyone change the music in Sonic CD? When the original version came in for review, the first thing I noticed was the amazing music. Now I get some Carnival Cruise Lines muzak in the first level and way too mellow tunes in the rest. I still love the game of course, but I just can't get in to it like before. The drama's gone but a great game remains. Maybe a limited edition original cut would heal my wounds ..."


SOMETHING ROTTEN?: Of the three gamers who originally gave Sonic CD a 100%, none of them made a huge issue about the music until it was altered. Seems like if the music was enough to drop the score from 100% to 79% they would have spent more time talking about the music in the first place. Just imagine if Sega had changed the controls, graphics, or collision detection.

A VOICE OF REASON?: One reviewer on the Game Fan staff had something reasonable to say, however it was because it was his first stab at reviewing Sonic CD. Brody brings us some interesting points, but still delves into the "music is everything" whining his co-workers were complaining about.

BRODY: "I wasn't here when the original Sonic test version came in (I've just returned to GF) so I had not heard the original music. I loved the game when I played it although the music didn't strike me as awesome. Later I was able to play the original and that's when I realized what everyone at GF was freaking out about. That was incredible music! Changing it was a mistake. Sega doesn't make many, but no one is perfect. Still a great game."

(Editors Note: I wonder if the owners of the Sega 32x, Sega Menacer, Sega Activator, and early Saturn will agree that Sega doesn't make many mistakes?)


WAS IT JUST GAME FAN?: Here are some comments about Sonic CD from Electronic Gaming Monthly (issue 52, November 1993): "Don't believe the hype. Sonic's a cool dude, but there really isn't anything new in his premier onto the CD scene." (Martin Alessi, score: 8) "The music is what really draws me to the game." (Danyon Cartenter, score: 9) "This CD has got to be the best version of Sonic to date! All the control is here, the glitches that plagued the second one are gone." (Ed Semrad, score: 9)

Of the four Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewers, only one made the music an issue in his review. The others enjoyed the gameplay, graphics, and in passing mentioned the "atmospheric sound". The same goes with Game Pro and other video game publications of the era.

COURSE OF ACTION: One cannot adequately review a game in a matter of 50 - 100 words. Videogames are, for the most part, complex, and worth several hundred words. There's always exceptions, but it's hard to cover all the depth (or lack thereof) a game gives you. Even magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly that used to offer short, to the point reviews, are providing longer, much improved reviews.
If you bought Sonic CD and you don't like the music, you can always put on a CD, or hey, why not just turn the sound off. Chances are the music won't even bother you. But docking the game almost thirty points for having different music, well, THAT bothers people.
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