03/07/2022

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Yuji Naka seemingly confirms Sonic had music from Michael Jackson

It’s been long rumored that Sega worked on music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with Michael Jackson, which may be why it was removed in Sonic Origins.

In the long history of video games, one of the more interesting rumors over the years (and one that Sega has danced around without ever confirming or denying) was that Michael Jackson may have had a hand in the music of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and/or Sonic & Knuckles. While there have been interviews that leaned more towards Jackson’s involvement being real, it’s still never quite fully been confirmed. Well, apparently with the swap of music for Sonic 3 in Sonic Origins, former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka shared what seems to be further confirmation of this rumor.

Over on his personal Twitter, Yuji Naka shared that he had checked out Sonic Origins and was surprised to see the music changed in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. While the collection is generally quite good, many were a little disappointed to hear the soundtrack swapped in the game and Sega hasn’t exactly been vocal about the reason why. According to Naka, it might be because of the soundtrack’s connection to Michael Jackson.

Yuji Naka's Tweet seems to express that Sega has officially used Michael Jackson's music previously.
Yuji Naka’s Tweet seems to express that Sega has officially used Michael Jackson’s music in the past.

Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music,” Naka tweeted on June 23, 2022.

It’s a seemingly nonchalant nod to a rumor that gaming fans and historians have been trying to figure out for years. There have been interviews and discussions from various figures close to the Sonic games that have leaned into the rumor. However, as one of the key programmers and lead figures on all of the early Sonic games, Naka would likely be close enough to know more on the matter.

Sonic Origins is out now and quite a fun time, featuring a new soundtrack in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Is it because of Michael Jackson’s estate that the soundtrack was changed? That’s still cloudy, but Naka’s response to the game is another interesting nod to a rumor that fans have been debating for entire decades now.