The following is an interview with Bentley Jones conducted by GamingUnion.net.
Gaming Union: You're obviously a huge Sonic fan, what do you think about the new games?
Bentley Jones: (laughs) I don't know, I think Sonic gets a hell of a lot of stick from the critics and he's held up to a double standard. The latest one is Unleashed and I really enjoy playing it - I'm not sure what people will think about that - but I thought it was really good and I think it was definitely a step in the right direction for the series. If they used Unleashed as a template for the next Sonic game, then we could definitely see Sonic returning to his former glory of the 90s.
Gaming Union: What do you think about the twists they've tried to use like Sonic using a sword, or Sonic changing into a Werewolf?
Bentley Jones: (laughs)
Gaming Union: (laughs)
Bentley Jones: I haven't had a chance to play the Wii games that much and I've only had a chance to play Sonic and the Secret Rings briefly. But it's so tough because you have the old school fans and the new school fans and people who want Sonic Team to try new things, but people who want them to go back to the classic gameplay. So, no matter what the guys come up with, they're never going to please everyone and that's going to be the same for the critics; the critics are always going to be divided. That's pretty much what they are now, because I know with the games at the moment, they get a handful that completely love it, and a handful that completely pan it and there's no consistency, which is a real shame because Unleashed, is a really good game as far as platformers are concerned.
Gaming Union: What would be your favourite game in the franchise?
Bentley Jones: Ahhh, I'll have to try and wriggle out of this question! I think it would be a toss up between Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which I know is kinda like two games, but technically it's kinda not. It would be either that or Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast.
Gaming Union: I've got a soft spot for Sonic 2.
Bentley Jones: Sonic 2 was actually the first Sonic game I ever owned, because to play the first game I had to go around my mate’s house and steal his Mega Drive to play on it.
Gaming Union: What do you think about how the music has progressed? In the older games it was about creating a 50 second loop that just repeated, whereas the modern music is much more mainstream. Do you think that's a good way to go, or would you like to see a return to how it used to be?
Bentley Jones: I don't know, I think it's progressed with the trends of the time. Since the days of the 16-bit era and even the 64-bit era, most games have become so much more cinematic and it's because of that, that the games require different functions from the music. So that's probably why the music has evolved the way it has, and if it was reverted back to the way it used to be, it might not work. In terms of Sonic specifically, I think the music has evolved in a very beneficial manner, in the sense that each installment improves on the last soundtrack. So, I think the music has always been heading in the right direction.
Gaming Union: Being part of the fan base, you're obviously quite a gamer.
Bentley Jones: I try to be!
Gaming Union: So, what games are you playing at the moment?
Bentley Jones: I'm so behind! Not too long ago I managed to get into Resident Evil 5, which was loads of fun. I ran off to America for a break and I spent the best part of 2 weeks playing Resident Evil 5 even when the weather outside was gorgeous and everyone else was going to the beach. I also finally got my 360 online in the studio, which means a lot less work is going to get done and I downloaded the expansion for Burnout Paradise, which is definitely my favourite racing game, so I've been spending a lot of time on there checking out Big Surf Island.
Gaming Union: Do you have any older games that are guilty pleasures?
Bentley Jones: Not really guilty pleasures, I'm proud to like them. I managed to track down a copy of Jet Set Radio Future on the Xbox, so I've been playing that on and off as I never got to complete it when it was first around on the original Xbox. So, I'm playing that again and of course the music is awesome, so even if I don't manage to get very far, at least I'm going around listening to good stuff.
Gaming Union: Do you still crank out any of the old 16-bit games?
Bentley Jones: Well, Sega Europe very kindly sent me the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, so I got stuck on that for a couple of hours at a time, but that was before I realised the achievements were ridiculously easy to get. Dynamite Headdy, I loved that game and I'd quite happily play that again... aside from Sonic of course.
Bentley Jones: It was cool, but it was so rushed. It was around when I had finalised my deal with EMI, so at the time I was very busy and stressed as I was recovering from my surgeries last year. It was cool though, as I was in touch with Richard for quite a while before then, very on and off casually, so it was cool to have direct contact and to do something together. A lot of people don't realise that when we did "Dreams Dreams", we never had the opportunity to rehearse it before then, so the first ever run-through of that song was on stage at Summer of Sonic.
Gaming Union: Probably quite nerve-wracking!
Bentley Jones: It was fun, definitely a lot of fun. It was very cool to look across the stage and see someone singing with me for a change. Second to that, to have it be TJ who's so nice and so talented.
Gaming Union: Because obviously those two have worked together on Sonic games before.
Bentley Jones: Yes, plus I grew up with the games Richard and TJ did the music for, so it was quite a trip for me.
Gaming Union: Is the 29th of August [Summer of Sonic 2009] free in your diary?
Bentley Jones: Arrgh, man! Honestly, because people think I'm bluffing or trying to avoid it because I'm planning a surprise appearance or something. But honestly, I want to go but at this point I don't know if I can make it. That evening I have to be way up North, so it's figuring out how I can be in London for the Morning/Lunchtime then getting all the way up North in the same day. I'm trying my best to work something out though, and if I manage it I'll officially announce it and everyone will know about it. Until then though, even I don't know.