The Pop Band Origins of 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Composer Masato Nakamura
Creating a hit video game is a mercurial thing. It’s a delicate operation sometimes involving thousands of people toiling for years and years to craft a balanced, fun game. Of course, character design is incredibly important. As is the actual gameplay, making sure the reward loop is good enough to keep players glued to their consoles for hours on end. But the connective tissue that holds it all together and can make or break a game, is the music. Masato Nakamura is the brilliant composer behind the games Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. While you may know his sounds from Green Hill Zone, you probably don’t know that in addition to being a video game hall of famer, he’s also a J-pop star.
In 1988, three years before the world of gaming would forever be changed by the chili dog loving blue blur who just had to go fast, Nakamura along with Miwa Yoshida and Takahiro Nishikawa formed the band Dreams Come True. The trio released their first album and it was a huge hit in Japan. The hits just kept coming as the band cranked out 4 albums by 1991, the year of the first Sonic the Hedgehog release.
The uplifting and honestly stone cold bop that is Sonic’s main theme clearly has its roots in the late 80’s synth pop that Nakamura and the rest of Dreams Come True are known for. Their fifth album “The Swinging Star” for a while was the best selling Japanese album of all time. They dropped that banger in 1992, the same year that Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which Nakamura composed for, came out. If you’re trying to be transported into an epic, pop-y place full of 80’s righteousness and synth drums worthy of Phil Collins, check out their early stuff.
Fun fact for you 90’s movie fans, Dreams Come True also recorded the opening theme for the Japanese release of Sleepless in Seattle. When you’re at your local trivia night and you win a free bar tab because you knew that, you’re welcome. What’s even more amazing is that the group is still together and making hits. Keyboardist Takahiro Nishikawa left the group in 2003, but Nakamura and Yoshida are still making sweet, sweet music together.