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Gaming’s greatest urban legend has finally been confirmed

Sonic Origins has been released into the wild just in time for Sonic the Hedgehog’s 31st birthday and Yuji Naka just confirmed the greatest urban legend in Sonic the Hedgehog history: Michael Jackson wrote the music for Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

The legendary game maker took to Twitter on Thursday morning (Thursday night Japan Standard Time) and asked if the music for Sonic 3 & Knuckles changed in Sonic Origins at all since he produced the original game in 1993-94. Not 10 minutes later, he followed up with, “Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music.”

Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson's music.

— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) June 23, 2022

Naka tweeting about Michael Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 & Knuckles came way out of left field, but it validates all the fan theories and research that cropped up on internet forums about the matter in the last 28 years since the release of the original game — especially when it came to the melodic similarities between the game’s ending theme and Jackson’s song Stranger in Moscow. It also validated a statement composer Brad Buxer gave The Huffington Post in 2016, when Buxer claimed Michael Jackson worked with him and other songwriters on the soundtrack for Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and the music ended up in the final product.

We already knew that Sonic Origins wouldn’t be using the original soundtrack for Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but fans were unsure if Jackson’s rumored portion of the soundtrack remained intact in some way despite not being credited for his contribution. The game’s score has been reproduced by Crush 40 guitarist and veteran Sonic music composer Jun Senoue, using the same sound chip from the Sega Genesis as well as his own digital audio tape collection.

To paraphrase Elton John, Naka turned a legend into fact today.

Cristina Alexander
Cristina Alexander has been writing since 2014, from opining about pop culture on her personal blog in college to reporting…
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