Yuji Naka Confirms That Michael Jackson Wrote Music For Sonic The Hedgehog 3 [Update]

Update: In a subsequent tweet, Yuji Naka sought to clarify what he meant, noting that he’s using a translation tool to post in English, which he does not speak. In this (also translated) tweet, he noted, “I feel like I’m being misunderstood a lot.” He also pointed to an official Sega TikTok video, which features Sonic and a Michael Jackson song. As such, it seems he was not attempting to confirm Jackson’s involvement in the Sonic 3 soundtrack, though he also doesn’t deny the long-running rumor. So for now, it appears this will remain a rumor.

Original story: The late Michael Jackson’s involvement in the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s soundtrack has been a long-running rumor in gaming circles, and one that the co-creator of Sega’s blue blur has confirmed. With the release of Sonic Origins, a compilation of classic Sonic games for modern platforms, veteran game developer Yuji Naka commented on how Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s original soundtrack was missing from the game.

“Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though Sega Official uses Michael Jackson’s music,” Naka tweeted.

Naka also tweeted a photo taken from Jackson’s home when the Sonic 3 team visited the estate:

According to creative officer Takashi Iizuka, new tracks arranged by composer Jun Senoue have replaced Sonic 3’s soundtrack as much of the game’s original score had been left in an unusable state.

“When we’re going back and trying to recreate all these games from 30 plus years ago, you get a lot of old data that’s not really usable,” Iizuka said to Eurogamer. “And music was one of those things –we had to dig up the old DAT tapes in order to get the music that was on all these games, and Jun Senoue went in and had to recreate in a modern format the music that they could put on to Sonic 3 and Knuckles as a final product.”

Back in 1993, it was claimed that Sega had canceled the collaboration with Jackson after allegations of child abuse came to light, although it was rumored that content he had worked on had remained in the original version of the game. In the years after Sonic 3 shipped, Naka remained tight-lipped whenever the rumor was brought up, such as in a 2009 interview with Sonic Stadium when he jokingly dodged questions from the site.

Beyond Sonic Origins, there are a few other games starring the Sega mascot that you can expect in the future. Sonic Frontiers gives the hedgehog a vast “open zone” to race through and has recently shown off more of its exploration and speedy combat through recent video deep dives.

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