Sega has sadly confirmed that their upcoming release of Sonic Origins, an updated collection of four of the Blue Blur’s classic adventures, will not feature the original Sonic 3 soundtrack in its version of Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Sonic’s gaming history has seen more than its fair share of peaks and troughs, but despite the questionable decisions behind and quality of some of his recent outings, the music featured in his titles has almost always been a point of high praise amongst fans.
Unfortunately, Sega has begrudgingly admitted that Sonic Origins will release absent one of the series’ most iconic soundtracks.
Addressing the “one question that we’ve seen, kind of over-and-over, is ‘what is the situation on the music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles?'” during a recent Sonic-centric livestream (09:56 in the video below), Sega Social Media Manager Katie Chrzanowski revealed that, “Unfortunately we can’t use all of the original sounds from the Sega Genesis version of the game.”
“Jun Senoue has been working really hard to adapt the original music that was composed in 1993 for Sonic Origins,” she added.
To that end, Chrzanowski further noted that the composer – who was himself one of the original musicians who contributed to the soundtrack in question – has “been going so far as reproducing it, with the same sound chip from the Sega Genesis, and using his own digital audio tape collection to make this, like, as faithful to the originals as possible.”
Though Chrzanowski declined to elaborate as to the reasons why the game’s original soundtrack could not be used, it may have something to do with the long-standing rumor that the late King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, composed some of the music heard in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
One popular theory is that while Jackson did contribute to the Sonic 3 soundtrack, Sega pulled his credits after dentist and screenwriter Evan Chandler filed a lawsuit claiming that the pop star had molested his son.
Eventually, citing declining health and an increased use of painkillers, Jackson’s lawyers elected to settle Chandler’s case out of court.
According to former Sega executive Roger Hector, Jackson’s deal with the developer soon after fell apart, leading to his work being removed.
While Sega have never officially confirmed the claims, Brad Buxer, Jackson’s musical director, previously claimed that in 1993 Jackson had spent four week recording at Record One in Los Angeles for the project.
According to him, Jackson’s work on the game had finished around the time the allegations were made, but after finding that the Sega Genesis’ OPN2 sound chip could not replicate the music he had created, asked to have his names removed from the credits.
Buxer’s claim was further supported by Doug Grigsby III and Cirocco Jones, both of whom were part of the six-man team involved in developing Jackson’s contributions to the soundtrack.
Whether Jackson was involved or not, these three, along with fellow sound team members Bobby Brooks, Darryl Ross, and Geoff Grace, were the ones who ultimately received the credit for Sonic 3’s soundtrack.
Some fans have even drawn comparisons between certain Sonic 3 tracks and Jackson’s own musical stylings, such as Carnival Night Zone and Jam (1992), Azure Lake Zone and Black or White (1989), and Ice Cap Zone and Smooth Criminal (1988).
Notably, the game’s minor boss theme also seem to sample Jackson’s iconic “Whoo!”
However, these uses may have been spared of any legal red tape due to them not being the original tracks themselves, but rather remixes.
To make matters worse, listings for the original versions of the four games featured in Origins – Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles – were removed from digital stores on May 20th.
As such, aside from digging the actual cartridges out from your closet, the only way for players to experience Sonic 3 with its original soundtrack is to score a second-hand copy of one of Sega’s previous seven Sonic the Hedgehog collection releases.
In addition to ‘classic modes’ which keep the original games somewhat intact, Sonic Origins promises to bring a bevy of new features to the four titles collects.
These new extras include wide-screen support, the ability to play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles on any of the games’ stages, the introduction of Sonic’s Drop Dash from Sonic Mania, a boss rush mode, and a treasure trove of concept art, music, and animated cutscenes.
The game will launch June 23rd for Steam, the Epic Games Store, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
What do you make of Sonic Origins’ lack of Sonic 3’s original soundtrack? Let us know your thoughts on social media and in the comments down below!