Over the last few years, I’ve interviewed Playdigious multiple times. Playdigious was responsible for bringing Streets of Rage 4, TMNT Shredder’s Revenge and more to mobile. Both of those have music from Tee Lopes, who most people know thanks to Sonic Mania. I’ve been a fan of Tee Lopes for ages now, and have always wanted to interview him. With the recent announcement of Sonic Superstars from SEGA for all consoles and PC platforms, I figured it was a great time to finally chat with Tee Lopes about video game music, the current state of Sonic, Sonic Superstars, his favorite soundtracks, composers, and more. Note that this interview was conducted before Penny’s Big Breakaway featuring Tee Lopes was recently showcased.
TouchArcade: Tell us a little bit about yourself and the journey you’ve had over the years going from starting out, doing music for games like Fling, the Sonic 2 HD project, to where you are today as one of the premier composers in the industry.
Tee Lopes: It’s been an incredible journey so far. I started out as a hobbyist, creating music for fan projects and indie games like Fling and the Sonic 2 HD fan project. These early experiences helped me refine my skills and develop my own unique musical style. As I gained more recognition, opportunities started opening up, leading me to work on bigger projects and collaborate with talented developers. I’m grateful for the support of the gaming community, which has allowed me to grow as a composer and pursue my passion on a professional level.
TA: How do you approach composing for long-running franchises compared to working on something for a brand new property?
TL: When composing for long-running franchises, I approach it with a deep respect for the legacy and history of the series. It’s important to understand what makes the music in those franchises iconic and beloved by fans. I study the previous soundtracks, immerse myself in the universe of the game, and try to capture the essence of what makes that franchise special while adding my own musical voice to it. On the other hand, working on something new gives me more creative freedom to explore different styles and experiment with fresh ideas. It’s an exciting opportunity to help shape the identity of a brand new property and contribute something unique to the gaming world.
TA: Building on the previous question, what was your thought process on the Streets of Rage 4 Mr X Nightmare DLC: Did you aim to try and fit in with the base game or the series as a whole?
TL: When working on the Mr. X Nightmare DLC, my aim was to strike a balance between respecting the base game’s incredible soundtrack while also adding my own personal touch. I wanted to maintain the energetic and hard-hitting vibe that the Streets of Rage series is known for, but also infuse it with my own musical style. It was important to create music that would feel like a natural extension of the base game while enhancing the overall experience for players.
TA: You’ve recently been confirmed to be working on Sonic Superstars. You’re also doing Metal Slug Tactics this year and the TMNT Shredder’s Revenge DLC. You teased on Twitter many more projects. Can you say if those will be revealed in 2023 or will they be released this year?
TL: I’m really excited to be a part of those games! As for the other projects I’ve been teasing, I can’t provide specific details at the moment. However, I can say that some of them will be revealed this year, while others are scheduled for release in the near future. I appreciate the enthusiasm and patience of my fans, and I can’t wait to share more about these upcoming projects when the time is right!
TA: How has it been working with big publishers compared to working with indies over the years for you?
TL: Working with both big publishers and indies has been an enriching experience in different ways. Big publishers often have well-established development pipelines and larger teams, which can provide a lot of resources and support. Collaborating with them allows me to work on high-profile projects and reach a wider audience. On the other hand, working with indies offers a more intimate and personal experience. It allows me to be closely involved in the creative process, have direct communication with the developers, and contribute my ideas and expertise in a more hands-on manner. Both types of collaborations have their own merits, and I’ve enjoyed the unique challenges and rewards that come with each.
TA: A lot of people associate Tee Lopes with Sonic music. It almost feels like you’re the music equivalent of when Christian Whitehead or Headcannon are involved in a game to some fans. How do you feel about being so closely associated with Sonic?
TL: It’s an incredible honor to be closely associated with Sonic and to have the support of such a passionate fanbase. Sonic holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers, myself included, so being entrusted with the responsibility of composing music for the franchise is a dream come true. I strive to create music that captures the spirit and energy of Sonic while also bringing something fresh and exciting to the table. The positive reception from fans motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries and delivering memorable sonic experiences.
TA: What game would you love to score given the chance (something that hasn’t happened yet)?
TL: There are so many amazing games out there, but if I had to pick one, I would love to score a Castlevania or a Mega Man game. These series have always had a breathtaking musical identity, and it would be a thrilling challenge to contribute to their iconic legacy. The rich lore, and memorable characters of those universes offer endless inspiration for creating an eclectic, kick-ass soundtrack.
TA: What do you think of the current state of Sonic and Sonic Frontiers?
TL: I think Sonic is doing amazing! Sonic has been doing a fantastic job of reaching out to different fan groups and making sure they don’t leave the older fans behind. Sonic Frontiers, in particular, has been incredibly bold by exploring new territory, which is a great move. What’s even cooler is that it’s still growing and changing, which means the future of the franchise looks promising. The Sonic movies have also been a blast, reaching new heights and even breaking the rules in some ways. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for Sonic, and I really hope I get to be a part of it.
TL: Thank you for the kind words! Collaborating with Jonny Atma on “Panic in the Sky" for TMNT Shredder’s Revenge was an absolute blast. Jonny is a talented musician, and his vocals added an incredible energy and intensity to the track. We had a great synergy, and he definitely pushed the song to new heights. It’s always a pleasure to work with fellow passionate artists, and I’m glad our collaboration resonated with fans.
TA: What are your current favorite soundtracks across all media?
TL: There are so many incredible soundtracks across different media that it’s hard to pick just a few favorites. However, some soundtracks that have left a lasting impression on me include the works of Nobuo Uematsu, particularly the Final Fantasy series, Yuzo Koshiro’s compositions for the Streets of Rage series, the haunting melodies of Michiru Yamane in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the iconic compositions of Koichi Sugiyama in the Dragon Quest series. These are just a few examples among countless others that continue to inspire and captivate me.
TA: Is there a composer you’d love to work with in the future that you haven’t had the chance to make happen yet?
TL: One composer that I’ve always dreamed of collaborating with is Yuzo Koshiro. You’ve definitely heard his incredible music in games like Streets of Rage and the Shinobi series. He has always known how to make those catchy, high-energy tunes that stick with you. I think teaming up with him would be a blast, and our musical styles could totally bring something unique and awesome to the table.
TA: Can you give us a hint of what we can expect from your score for Sonic Superstars?
TL: I can’t provide specific details about my score for Sonic Superstars at the moment, but I can assure you that I put my heart and soul into contributing music that captures the essence of Sonic and brings a fresh sonic experience to the game. I hope that fans will enjoy the music and feel a sense of excitement when playing Sonic Superstars!
Thanks to Tee Lopes for his time here.