Sonic & Knuckles / Sonic the Hedgehog 3 :: Review by Charles
Howard Drossin composed the original Sonic & Knuckles / Sonic the Hedgehog 3 soundtracks. While no official soundtrack was ever released, an arranged album was produced by Akinori Minami that slightly tweaked the tracks. Howard Drossin had nothing to do with this CD and maybe that's part of its problem. The album seems to struggle with its identity and, as a result, won't really do the soundtrack justice for most.
It's difficult to know how to approach this album. If approached as an enhanced original score, it lacks the completeness that would be expected from normal soundtracks. It felt a bit counter productive to not have some of the great Sonic the Hedgehog 3 tracks on here. I really was wondering where "Ice Cap" was or what about the classic "Angel Island". Of course, there are plenty of superfluous tracks between the two scores that were omitted from the 12 track album too. It just adds to the feeling that the classic Sonic games really need original score releases.
When approached as a remix CD, it's rather odd because the tracks are so similar to the originals with just minor tweaks. There are a few smooth jazz instrumentalists, though everything still sounds quite primitive and there is still a reliance on MIDI. I don't understand the point given nothing drastically different was done. Those who want slightly higher quality and slightly different versions of these great tracks will find the interpretations fine, but still may have qualms about the selection. Those looking for more might as well listen to the remixes on Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Virtual Sonic. The former soundtrack has an old-school remix of Angel Island, which is five times better than any of these.
Looking a little closer, "Flying Battery" was one of the great musical pieces off Sonic & Knuckles and this arrange version doesn't make it much better. Itís still very MIDI sounding and, in general, sounds flatter than before. "Lava Reef" was also a great original and created a great feel for the course. The arrange version of "Lava Reef" is much better than the "Flying Battery" version, but it's still a bit flat though. Most tracks, like this one sound a bit smoother. They sound very old school, but aren't as rough as actual Genesis music. There's also a remix medley, which features more different versions of the majority of tracks on this album. It's not bad, but just not that special and would benefit from better transitions.
To put it bluntly, if the original soundtrack was jazz, then this is the smooth jazz version. Some people prefer smooth jazz over jazz though. Granted that this isn't a jazz CD, but you should really think if the analogy applies to you. There isn't anything that really makes this CD horrible, but it's just a tad pointless in my eyes. It's an old remix CD that's great for anyone's collection, but I just think a lot of fans would rather listen to a hypothetical original score release or more ambitious remixes like the one from Brawl, for example.
Overall Score: 7/10