MS: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Before the whole ‘did he or didn’t he’ saga surrounding Michael Jackson and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, SEGA had already hired pop royalty to compose for its flagship series.
That Masato Nakamura was and still is largely unknown in the West is beside the point. SEGA wanted to add star power and street cred to its new mascot’s debut outings on the Mega Drive, so it went to the guy behind one of Japan’s biggest pop groups.
Formed in 1988, his band Dreams Come True has been immensely successful, boasting ten no.1 albums in Japan and over 50 million records sold worldwide. With over 40 million of those made domestically, they are the fifth best-selling musical act in the history of the country according to official Oricon sales figures. Even before being commissioned by SEGA they’d already released three hit albums, selling over a million copies apiece.
I’ll cover the original Sonic the Hedgehog another time but let’s focus on Sonic 2 for now. The hand of Nakamura is most apparent and fascinating here as the game outright uses a Dreams Come True track.
Accompanying the memorable endgame cut scene (or what passed as a cut scene for 1992) is DCT’s ‘Sweet Sweet Sweet’, the English language version of which is known as ‘Sweet Dreams’. Of course, it’s rendered by the Mega Drive’s limited sound chip and thus has none of the lyrics, but it’s undeniable the same composition.
Have a listen to the above video which layers the real track over the Mega Drive rendition (credit to YouTuber nintenboy505 for that).
As a huge childhood fan of the 16-bit Sonic games, it blew my mind to discover that such an iconic moment from Sonic 2 used a “real” song. I suppose Japanese players must have had a similar revelatory moment upon experiencing this back in the day.
A not-so-fun fact; the song was used again in a more recent Sonic title (presumably licensed from Nakamura and/or Dreams Come True). Featuring American rapper Akon, this remix played over the credit sequence of the truly dreadful attempt at a franchise reboot, 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog.
Oh, and uh, the rest of Sonic 2′s soundtrack is pretty good too, if not quite as catchy and memorable as Sonic 1‘s.