The rumors and or facts surrounding Michael Jackson’s involvement with Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s soundtrack have circulated the internet since the early days of online forums and webrings. Many confirmations have come and gone, but none will stick like the producer of the game tweeting direct proof. That’s exactly what happened earlier today when Yuji Naka expressed his confusion about the altered soundtrack for Sonic 3 found inside Sonic Origins.
SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music. means this. https://t.co/cJ4kFMFB4C
— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) June 23, 2022
Naka, who no longer works with Sega, picked up Origins like scores of other fans of the Blue Blur, so his tweets about the missing music seem to be genuine confusion about the situation. Many in the gaming community were surprised that Naka confirmed something that has been the subject of much speculation over the years.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is the missing piece of many Genesis retrospectives by Sega over the years. There was no official reason for the removal, but many suspected that the music co-written by Jackson was the main justification. With Sonic 3 returning in the newly released Origins and featuring prototype tracks also found in the PC rerelease of the game rather than the original tunes, that speculation also seems right on the money.
Did You Know Gaming? provided a rather comprehensive track record of the rumor in a video from July 2020. Many thought the musician produced tracks for Sonic 3 due to similarities between his music and the game’s soundtrack. Some of Jackson’s frequent collaborators like Brad Buxer, Doug Grigsby III, and Scirocco also contributed to Sonic 3, further perpetuating those rumors. Sega also made Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker in 1990, showing that the two had a prior relationship.
Other various named and unnamed sources also stated that Jackson contributed, while some claimed he wasn’t happy with his work, which he allegedly felt was limited by the Genesis’ sound hardware. This reportedly caused him to step away, something Sega was fine with due to the child abuse allegations that were leveled against him at the time. However, many seemed to be unsure if the tracks he did make actually made their way into the game. Sega did seem to officially confirm Jackson’s involvement in an in-game description of 2009’s Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, one of the retro collections that Sonic 3 is actually in. It all seemed to point to Jackson being involved at some point, which Naka added more credence to with his tweets.
Sonic Origins arrived this week on modern console platforms and PC, featuring the first four classic games in the series and Knuckles. Outside of the modified soundtrack, the new versions of the game feature improvements like the drop dash from Sonic Mania and the ability to bring in Tails and Knuckles in games where they weren’t originally playable. While Sonic fans will still have to go to YouTube to relive the king of pop’s contributions to Sonic’s legacy, the rest of the games are presented in this package that should last up until Sega decides that the world needs another rerelease.