[Updated on June 23 @ 12:38 PM ET]: In a follow-up to his tweet, Naka backtracked his initial statement, in which he seemingly confirmed Michael Jackson’s involvement in the Sonic 3 soundtrack. Saying he is “being misunderstood a lot,” Naka states that his tweet was in reference to Sega using Jackson’s music in the TikTok video mentioned in the article below. Did Naka let the cat out of the bag and then try to reel it in? Or was his intention sarcasm all along? Supposedly, we’ll never truly know. The mystery may linger even further, perhaps for another decade or so.
The original article, published on June 23, is as follows.
There has been a long-running theory that the King of Pop worked with Sega to produce the soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This theory was based on the similarities between various Sonic 3 tracks and Michael Jackson’s songs. Some examples include Azure Lake, which is similar to “Black or White,” and Knuckles the Echidna’s theme sounding like “Ghosts.” It’s been decades, but today (On Sonic’s 31st birthday) Yuji Naka has seemingly confirmed Michael Jackson was involved with Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
For the longest time, this has remained one of gaming’s biggest myths. But that myth might have just been proven true. Naka, the producer for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and co-creator of Sonic, took to Twitter to talk about Sonic Origins and its soundtrack. Origins is a recently released collection of four classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, including Sonic 3. However, this version of Sonic 3 is a little different from that of the original, as its soundtrack has been changed.
Naka noticed this change tweeting: “Does Sonic Origins Sonic 3 have a different Song?” He followed up his own question with, “Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music.” The latter half of that tweet refers to this TikTok posted on the official Sega account.
Does Sonic Origins Sonic 3 have a different song?
— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) June 23, 2022
Why the change?
These comments made by Naka don’t completely out Jackson’s involvement, as it doesn’t come directly from Sega. But he does apparently confirm that the age-old rumor is true. Plus if there is someone out there that knows the truth, it’s likely to be the man who produced the game in the first place. Producers are usually at the center of most of the decision-making for a game’s development, typically. If something as significant as getting Jackson involved was discussed during Sonic 3‘s development, Naka would know about it.
A specific reason as to why Sonic Origins isn’t using the original music is unknown. Even so, it’s not too difficult to take a good guess. Relicensing that music would likely be extremely difficult and expensive. It’s possible that, after considering the cost and logistics, Sega decided it would be easier to change the soundtrack.