Soundtrack Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack

A large proportion of the Sonic fanbase were disappointed by Sonic the Hedgehog 4. In many aspects the game had mammoth boots to fill, in continuing the lineage responsible for creating the massive following Sonic commanded during the nineties. While it’s not the intention to review either game here, many parallels can be drawn in the expectations of the music as to what was expected from the games themselves.

Taking up the reigns once more as composer for the majority of the soundtrack, Jun Senoue had a daunting task in creating an eclectic mix of tracks that could stand up against the might of Masato Nakamura’s timeless tunes and the cult classics of Sonic 3 and Knuckles. The soundtrack sets out to revisit the 16-bit era through compositions using synthesisers to emulate the sounds of yore, while lending from previous instalments by utilising the classic snare and kick drum which permeate the vast majority of musical offerings. The physical release of the soundtrack comes stuffed with the music to both titles, kicked off by the incidental piece New Frontier which segues beautifully into the first act of Slyvania Castle. If you’ve played through both episodes, the ordering of the episodes on this album will come as no surprise, with episode 2 feeling significantly more developed than its prequel, and with catchy incidentals bringing a full feeling to the soundtrack as a whole.  Like many of its predecessors, the accompanying songs to the first zones succeed in bringing a definitive and altogether memorable contribution, adding something unique to musical landscape of the franchise with a distinctive, piercing lead synth. Sky Fortress Act 1 and White Park Act 2 continue to bolster the soundtrack with reminiscent fast-paces and heavy bass, with Senoue sneaking in the trademark sounds synonymous with later works.


However, as is the case with Sonic 4 (particularly with regards to the first episode) the soundtrack suffers by lending far too heavily from the original series, and herein lies the main point of contention most fans have with this game. A particular hang-up regards the over-use of snare and kick drums in that while their use works well for many stages, the repetition of the drum patterns grows weary as the player progresses through zones, and feels much more bland compared to the first two Megadrive / Genesis titles. It is a little disappointing that a new drum sound was not developed as with the evolution from Sonic 2 to 3, rather than taking a step backwards and borrowing from the first games. The Eggman and E.G.G. Station arrangements do not live up to the grandeur of their past boss counterparts, partly due to the length of some of the tunes;  neither make it to 15 seconds before repeating, and become fairly dull for any adversary that takes longer than a minute to defeat. Fortunately this is remedied with Episode II through a marvellous array of themes accompanying the Metal Sonic encounters (including Reboot, which adds touches from Sonic CD composers Spencer Nilsen and Masafumi Ogata) and Introduction to Death Egg Mk II which screams inspirations from thrash licks.

With a meagre price tag of ¥1890 (£14 / $23 from, the physical release of the Sonic 4 soundtrack weighs in as one of the most affordable OSTs available, and currently working out cheaper (before postage costs) than the digital download for UK fans (£7.99 / $9.99 per episode) – this makes the soundtrack all the more appetising to those looking to expand or even start their soundtrack collection. The physical release of the album concludes with an exclusive Splash Hill medley featuring a guitar part and real percussion, from which you can see what Senoue had aspired to when creating this soundtrack. In some senses it becomes increasingly apparent that the classic sound for Sonic 4 feels forced in parts for the sake of nostalgia; perhaps a 16-bit sound simply cannot work with a modern generation Sonic title.  It is reassuring that lessons were learned from Episode 1 yielding some stunning compositions for Generations – however this highlights a major point; while Sonic Generations was a revisiting of the classic games, Sonic 4 was meant as a continuation and a progression to something new.


While Episode 2 very much redeems itself to its prequel, Sonic 4 does not quite manage the musical performance its predecessors accomplished two decades ago in just many attributes. Still, this compilation stands much stronger with both episodes combined, and is a sure-fire choice for the soundtrack collector; even if you’re not, the episode 2 soundtrack presents an enticing digital download worthy of taking its place in any Sonic collection. [3/5]


The game is supposed to fit in with the original genesis saga, so the music is self explanatory when trying to re-create that retro chip tune feel, however in my opinion it doesn’t fit the game in it’s updated state, the majority of tracks are forgettable or so lacklustre they aren’t worth remembering, there are a few decent tracks in the game, Splash Hill & Mad Gear from Ep.1 and the entirety of Sky Fortress Zone from Ep.2, SEGA’s direct approach to cheaper soundtracks is a good move for those who don’t have access to large sums of cash to shell out for imports, it’s well priced for what it has to offer, presentation of the Case and inlays is also rather nice and fits in nicely with the other sonic soundtracks on your shelf, it’s just a shame that the content isn’t worth shelling out for.
[2/5] – Super Soniko

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was released in split episodes with each one featuring music created by ancient lord of animal-murdering (and sound composing) Jun Senoue, it was SUPPOSED to sound similar to the old Genesis songs but at the same time having a “remastered” touch. At the end the result is debatable, but I digress. The songs do fit with their correspondent zones to a slight degree and standing out are the entirety of White Park and Mad Gear with the sexy Death Egg MK.2 Act 1 among others. Personally Episode 1 does have rather catchy songs while Episode 2 is a sliiiiiiiiight improvement over the first’s soundtrack, but nonetheless they are a fine addition to the world of Sonic’s music and they will be remembered as the soundtrack that made Sonic’s fanbase rage like there was no tomorrow. Good job SEGA and mister Jun Senoue, you’ve done it again!
[4/5] – Blue Wisp

The thought of Senoue-san making “retro” music in the vein of Sonic 1 – S3&K was something to get excited about, but unfortunately I was a little disappointed. The melodies aren’t terribly memorable and loop too quickly. That said, there are some melodies that stand up such as Splash Hill. Given the choice, Episode I’s music trumps Episode II, but that could be due to knowing the songs longer. The CD is fairly priced for what you get (£20) and you get a lot of music, but sadly it’s not something I can recommend to anyone bar soundtrack completists.
[2/5] – bcdcdude


Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack can be purchased from for $22.49 (~£14).

Have your own opinions of the soundtrack? Let us know in the comments!

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Published by

Adam Tuff

With a decade under his belt, Adam is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Adam is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.


  1. So why is it everyone reviewing the music tries to bury the issue of how unbelievably shit sounding both soundtracks are?
    Ep 2 introduced ONE FM INSTRUMENT (GASP). Other than that, we get the dullest leads conceivable repeated for every song in both games, along with an also reused dull bass.
    What really confuses me is how the Sonic Advance games actually had very good music that can almost stand up to the original games’ music. What the hell happened between Advance and Sonic 4? Did Senoe and the other musicians hit their heads on a curb and killed half their brain cells?

    The music in the original games are rich with diverse colorful sounds, masterfully crafted melodies and rhythms, and no two zone songs in a game ever sounded alike. Yet what we have with Sonic 4 is a guy or two who pretend that a single filtered sawtooth sample is everything the Genesis instruments were, and are so braindead they can’t figure out either FM synthesis or how to procure the original sounds into the new music, with the exception of that kick and snare. Speaking of which, those are the only samples used in the percussion, so they’re also oblivious to the fact that the PSG’s noise was used along with several other samples in the original game music.

    I could write a novel on all the things that are mind numblingy retarded about them and everything they did, and how the music was one giant nail in Sonic 4’s coffin.

  2. An excellent review to a so-so soundtrack! Great job dude!
    Of the tracks in both scores, only a few were memorable and half of those memorable ones were from other games. (Metal Sonic boss themes.)

    Oil Desert Zone is just horrendous. Vs. Eggman is too short. I won’t even fight the bosses just to avoid having to listen to the 9-second song loop 23 or so times. Since it is supposed to be a sequel to Sonic3 & Knuckles, It would’ve been fine for SEGA to use the Eggman boss theme from the previous game but update to higher sound quality. I’m sorry that didn’t happen.


  3. Sometimes I wish they had done the opposite: old visuals with updated songs. Not the rock we’ve seen in Adventure games, but something closer to the soundtrack from Generations.

  4. My review:
    Episode 1: Not the music I was hoping for, those synths need to leave, and the loops were too short, but it had some good tracks, like Splash Hill Acts 1 and 3, Casino Street Act 2, and the menu tracks. 2.5/5
    Episode 2: Definitely an improvement over Episode 1’s music. It still had the same issues as what I listed for Episode 1, but many tracks were better than anything Episode 1 had, like Metal Sonic’s theme, Death Egg Mk. II, the Final Boss theme, Sylvania Castle Acts 1-3, and Sky Fortress Acts 1 and 2. 3.5/5

  5. I liked EP2 and its Music, not a perfect game but the best 2 game that has come out in a while, besides u know..Generations.

  6. I don’t freaking get all the bitching Sonic 4’s music gets; most of its themes were pretty catchy despite being relatively lo-fi synth samples (which was intentional, as to reminisce about Genesis music).

  7. “Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was released in split episodes with each one featuring music created by ancient lord of animal-murdering (and sound composing) Jun Senoue” that made my day XD

  8. Stand out songs for me from episode 1 have to be splash hill and mad gear. the other songs are a bit hit and miss. From episode 2 for me the standout ones are sylvania castle act 2, white park act 2, and sky fortress. Again the others are a bit hit and miss with some being overly repetitive. Overall 3.5/5

  9. Just a slight nitpick but, can someone change Arakune to Blue Wisp? Please? :3

    Good review though. It was an enjoyable read. 😀

  10. Great review.

    I might as well give my two cents on the songs while everyone else is.

    I liked a lot of the tracks in this game, but that being said I think only 3 songs in the whole game sounded even remotely close to sounding like they came from the Mega Drive/Genesis, to me those were Lost Labyrinth 1, Oil Desert 1, and Sky Fortress 2.
    However I do have some other favorites from this soundtrack such as Sylvania Castle 2, which I think is an all around well constructed song and one of the few that doesn’t loop too quickly.

  11. I found the music catchy. It wasn’t perfect but i loved it. Most stages music I know all the beats. I’d give it a 4/5.

  12. I love Sonic 4:2’s soundtrack! It’s was really fresh, and sounded fantastic! They actually held a Genesis-feel which I loved listening to.

  13. I figure I’ll put this here, since I know you’d be interested in this, T-Bird. Skyler and I got a chance to talk with Jun for a little bit about the music in Sonic 4-2. After complimenting him for his work in it, we asked him what his favorite track of the group was. He said he really enjoyed Oil Desert 3 the most both in how it turned out and how he developed it. Just listening to it gives you that feeling that Jun was really digging that song.

    If you do get a chance to speak with him yourself, do pick his brain a bit some more. I was expecting him to say Sky Fortress 2 or 3, which have become the defacto fan favorites. Hearing Oil Desert 3 from him was interesting.

  14. Music seemed too short to really develop anything. Most of the loops occur in a minute or less. Someone pointed out about the old Advance games; they had longer (and better) pieces of music than these two games.

    If there is anything good out of the soundtrack it’s simply this: White Park Zone Act 2.

  15. I’ve been lurking this site for years, and I’m dropping in to say that I could not possibly agree with anything I’ve ever seen online more than I agree with Mr Lange’s post.

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