The Musical Box #14: Quick, Light and Blue

The Musical Box features 30 articles focusing on game music production and implementation. Edition #14: Sonic Generations

If you grew up playing games during the 16-bit era, there’ll probably be a special place in your heart for Sega’s blue mascot. In the 90’s, there were much fewer games than today, and almost nothing was as fast and cool as Sonic. The franchise is still going strong and dozens of games were released during the 20+ year career of the blue hedgehog.

In 2011, Sonic Generations was released. This game is not only a tribute to Sonic’s legacy, it also features a very interesting detail in music implementation, which you’ll learn about by reading this article.

Game: Sonic Generations
Released: 2011
Platform: PS3, XBOX 360, PC, and Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Sonic Team (SEGA)
Sound director: Jun Senoue

The set-up

In Sonic Generations, you’ll have the opportunity revisit the memorable Green Hill zone from Sonic 1, as well as other vintage stages from basically all main entries of the franchise. This game is a tribute to Sonic’s past, and obviously the superb soundtrack features both classic and modern arrangements of the best tunes of the franchise.

The cool aspect of music implementation in Sonic Generations happens during the 3D stages, where you control the skinnier and modern version of Sonic. When you use the boost feature, the music starts to sound “thin” and “light” due to a very intelligent use of dynamic equalization. The transition is perfectly tied to the game experience, since Sonic is also “lighter” when he’s running at full speed.

The moment

See the transition and the usage dynamic EQ in the video below.



The impact

Sonic Generations is another example of simple audio implementation that enhances the gameplay experience. This effect could be emulated by applying an EQ filter known as “low cut” to the musical theme of the stage. This filter attenuates all low frequencies of the music, making the higher frequencies stand out, thus creating the “thin” result.

The sensorial result of the transition is that the player feels “lighter” when the filter is applied. If you combine that with graphical blur effects, it can make the result even more noticeable.

Special thanks: Gilliard Lopes, Rafael Kuhnen, Fernando Secco, Sandro Tomasetti, and Rafael Martins (Sommastudio).

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