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Sonic Rush Adventure Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Sonic Rush Adventure Original Soundtrack Album Title: Sonic Rush Adventure Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Wavemaster
Catalog No.: WM-0578
Release Date: October 18, 2007
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Sonic Rush Adventure was a more acclaimed sequel to Sonic Rush in every regard except for its music. The original game was praised for its charming, creative, and upbeat music from Jet Set Radio composer Hideki Naganuma. Given the composer appears to have recently left Sega, however, it was left to a team of Sonic veterans — Tomoya Otani, Mariko Nanba, and Seiro Okamoto — to emulate his works. The result works fairly well in the game, but it lacks as either a superficial or inspiring listen on a stand-alone level. Where did the team trip up?


The vocal theme "A New Venture" certainly gets the game off to a bright start. Tomoya Otani certainly endears listeners with his Caribbean-influenced instrumental set-up, dominated by upbeat trumpet punctuations, rustic guitar backing, and distinctive percussion. The vocals meanwhile are very peppy and catchy; the vocalist was well-chosen since she is able to offer such a sound without being particularly annoying, even with having lyrics dominated by 'la la's to sing. Not all will like it, but I think it's a decent highlight on an otherwise instrumental score. Well, mostly instrumental. "Plant Kingdom" intends to emulate Hideki Naganuma with a blend of hip-hop vocals and colourful instrumentals. The main limitation is that the vocals always seem like they were tagged on last minute since they barely integrate with the instrumentals and are highly repetitive. The result just inspires apathy rather than excitement or amusement. Note that the main theme also makes a fun instrumental reappearance with "Hidden Island".

The stage themes are effective scenic depictions, but not so good for stand-alone listening. "Machine Labyrinth" complements a novel technological stage with a quirky rock focus and "Blizzard Peaks" represents a more hostile environment with harder electronic elements. However, both focus a little too much at the initial few riffs leaving just a few synth frills in the place of a true melody. Those few tracks with relatively strong melodies tend to present them in a less than appealing, for example with harsh synth on "Sky Babylon" or amidst a clutter ensemble on "Haunted Ship". In other cases such as "Training", the so-called hooks are actually very simple and childish, so are potentially patronising to more mature listeners. Mariko Nanba's contributions are a little more effective than Tomoya Otani's. "Coral Cave" complements the scenery well with its watery electronic beats and colourful infusions while "Pirates Island" nicely blends the score's tropical focus with some swashbuckling orchestral elements. However, they're replay value is still not as high as Naganuma's Sonic Rush works.

The remaining themes on the soundtrack aren't generally as awkward as many of the stage themes, but mostly feel derivative or superficial. Mariko Nanba's five "Windmill Village Mode" serve as pleasant background music, with their relaxing rhythms and bossa-nova influences, but are no more suited for elevator music than for stand-alone listening. Seiro Okamoto's "Waterbike" certainly suffices for its subsidiary purpose with its refreshing blend of Latin vocals and bustling rhythmical elements, though it gives all it's got within a minute. Similarly "Hovercraft" and "Sailboat" are certainly brisk and upbeat too, but sound more like jingles than fleshed-out works. Note that the soundtrack's latter half is also jam-packed with cutscene themes, pretty much all of them are short and interruptive too, and there just isn't enough highlights to neutralise them. That said, the boss themes are the few highlights that remain thanks to their sheer rhythmical engineering. Whether the rocking riffs of "Boss", electronic pulsations of "Big Swell", slapstick phrasing of "Whisker & Johnny", or intense beats of the final boss theme "Deep Core", there's a lot to like at least for a few listens. The "End Credits" is a pleasant but unremarkable effort featuring a relaxing flute melody and more Caribbean beats.


The Sonic Rush Adventure Original Soundtrack did little for me. On the one hand, it has all the elements it needed to be as good as Hideki Naganuma's sequel — rhythmical edge, catchy melodies, colourful fusions, lots of quirk, and a modern sound. As a result, it works quite well for a variety of purposes in the game and can probably be dubbed a successful soundtrack. However, somewhere down the line it ends up sounding derivative rather than creative and expressive, which is a problem for stand-alone listening. While the melodies and rhythms are present, they never really attracted me. While the fusions are technically interesting, they're not as vibrant on DS sound. Due to the sporadic nature of the tracks and the sheer number of shorter cues, the soundtrack sometimes has a rambling feel too. While this soundtrack technically does little wrong, it lacks the soul and humanity of its predecessor, and hence risks alienating its listeners.

Overall Score: 6/10