One of gaming's longest-running rumours has finally been put to bed. Sonic creator Yuji Naka today confirmed that yes, moonwalking music icon Michael Jackson did, in fact, compose the soundtrack to Sonic 3—and that's probably why Sega seems to have replaced a bunch of Sonic 3's bangers inside of Sonic Origins (opens in new tab), a remastered collection of the first three games released today.
Tweeting earlier today, Naka expressed surprise at Origins' soundtrack changing out several tunes, including Carnival Night Zone. Going by the replies, his note of Sega Official using Jackson's music appears to stem from an official TikTok using Billie Jean (opens in new tab) in a promotion celebrating Sonic's 31st birthday.
Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson's music.June 23, 2022
Shortly after confirming Jackson's involvement, Naka brought forward further proof by sharing a picture he took while on a helicoptor tour of the singer's Neverland Ranch.
This is a picture taken by me with my camera when we went to his house in his helicopter. It's pretty faded. I miss it. pic.twitter.com/wtM1BtMHwTJune 23, 2022
Sega, Sonic Team and Naka (who has since left Sega to release the somewhat underwhelming Balan Wonderland and subsequently pick fights with Square Enix (opens in new tab)) have been extremely cagey about Jackson's involvement in Sonic 3 for the past three decades. Naka's somewhat gung-ho approach to social media use means it's hard to tell if any official word let him spill the beans, or if he just saw his shot and took it.
Regardless, Sega seems to have decided it's time for Sonic 3 to move on from Michael Jackson. According to GameXplain (opens in new tab), removed tracks in Origins have been replaced with tunes based on early builds of Sonic 3.
Missing tunes appear to be the least of Sonic Origins' concerns anyway, with Steam reviews (opens in new tab) already complaining of a poor PC port with bad performance, lacklustre bonus features and muffled audio on the replacement tracks. In short, it's not exactly a thriller.