What a way to break some news, huh? On Twitter, Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka said the quiet part out loud: Michael Jackson definitely, totally composed some music for the 1994 Sega Genesis game, Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Unfortunately, Naka followed up the confirmation that this long-running myth is a bonafide fact with a bittersweet revelation: The tracks that the King of Pop worked on have been replaced in the just-released Sonic Origins remaster of Sonic 3. Yeah, it’s a bummer.
It has always been “allegedly” and “supposedly” that the problematic late pop musician was involved with Sonic 3. Jackson had a close relationship with Sega, after all, lending his talents to games like the Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker beat ‘em ups and the rhythm action game Space Channel 5. Apparently, Jackson was hired during Sonic 3’s development to compose music, but left the project seemingly in the wake of the 1993 child abuse allegations and went uncredited ever since. Sure, Jackson’s composer and musical director Brad Buxer spilled the tea in 2009, saying a possible reason for Jackson being uncredited was because, “He was not happy with the resulting sound coming out of the console.” But now we’ve got another line under the statement from the Sonic creator himself. You can’t get more clear cut than this.
“Does Sonic Origins Sonic 3 have a different song,” Naka questioned in a June 23 tweet. He then answered this question, saying, “Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though Sega Official uses Michael Jackson’s music.”
So, which tracks have been replaced in Sonic Origins, Sega’s remastered bundle featuring the first four Sonic platformers, and what have they been replaced with? GameXplain posted a great video on June 21 breaking it all down, but the TLDR is the music for three of the game’s Zones—Carnival Night, Ice Cap, and Launch Base—is completely different in Sonic Origins’ Sonic 3. Instead of the funky, rhythmic, obviously Jackson cuts found in the original, what we get in this remaster are remixed versions of songs used in the game’s prototype. The same prototype that ended up becoming the 1997 PC port for Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It’s not that they’re bad. They just mostly sound like elevator music.
When reached for comment via Twitter DMs, Naka sent Kotaku the below tweet, saying “it is unfortunate that the music for Sonic 3 was changed.”
Kotaku has reached out to Sega for comment.
There you have it. Michael Jackson composed music for Sonic 3. It’s a shame, because the tracks Jackson wrote aren’t just the danceable tunes he’s known for, but their thumping energy also matched the game’s frenetic speed. But it’s understandable too that Sega might not want to have the game associated with such a sussy musician, especially in light of 2019’s Leaving Neverland documentary.