Yuji Naka confirms that Michael Jackson wrote the music for Sonic The Hedgehog 3 [Update]



Update: In a sequel Tweeter, Yuji Naka sought to clarify what he meant, noting that he uses a translation tool to post in English, which he does not speak. In that tweet (also translated), he noted, “I feel like I’m often misunderstood.” He also pointed to an official Sega TikTok video, which features Sonic and a Michael Jackson song. As such, it appears he wasn’t trying to confirm Jackson’s involvement in the Sonic 3 soundtrack, though he’s not denying the long-running rumor either. So for now, it looks like it will remain a rumor.

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

“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 house when the Sonic 3 team visited the estate:

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

“When we go back and try to recreate all these games from over 30 years ago, you get a lot of old data that’s not really usable,” Iizuka told Eurogamer. “And the 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 came in and had to recreate in a modern format the music that they could put on Sonic 3 and Knuckles as the final product.”

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 remained in the original version of the game. In the years since the release of Sonic 3, Naka has kept a low profile whenever the rumor has come up, such as in a 2009 interview with Sonic stage when he jokingly dodged the site’s questions.

Beyond Sonic Origins, there are a few other games featuring the Sega mascot that you can look forward to in the future. Sonic Frontiers gives the hedgehog a huge “open area” to traverse, and has recently shown more of its fast-paced exploration and combat through recent video deep dives.

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