Sonic Origins won’t include the original soundtrack for Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
The news was confirmed by Sonic social media manager Katie Chrzanowski in a Sonic livestream.
“While unfortunately we can’t use all 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,” said Chrzanowski.
“He’s 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 as faithful to the originals as possible.”
Senoue has been heavily involved in soundtracks for the Sonic series since Sonic 3.
📢 “We can’t use all of the original sounds [from S3&K]. Jun Senoue has been working really hard to adapt the original music that was composed in 1993 for Origins,”#SonicNews pic.twitter.com/7va4T76QdZ
— Sonic the Hedgehog News & Updates · Tails’ Channel (@TailsChannel) June 9, 2022
So, why won’t it be included? That’s a long story.
The short version is a long-held rumour that Michael Jackson was originally involved in the soundtrack to Sonic 3.
Of course, Jackson was then accused of child molestation, which Sega was keen to distance itself from. Jackson, meanwhile, claimed he wasn’t happy with how his music sounded on the Mega Drive’s MIDI sound chip.
It’s believed his music does remain on the original Sonic 3 soundtrack, with similar melodies and chord sequences between the soundtrack and Jackson’s songs released shortly afterwards. For a full rundown, check out this excellent analysis by VG247.
A further twist came some years later with a PC re-release in 1997 included different music to the Mega Drive release. Turns out, though, this music was actually used in a Sonic 3 prototype pre-dating the actual game release.
Other re-releases of the game have used the original Mega Drive music, associated with Jackson, until 2018 when various re-releases of the series notably excluded Sonic 3.
It’s been speculated that Jackson may have waived compensation royalties for his music up until his death in 2009, at which point things got complicated.
It’s as a result of all this controversy that fans are eager to know what music will be included in Sonic Origins, especially as it’s considered a definitive collection. What really is the definitive soundtrack to Sonic 3?
Eurogamer has contacted both Sega and Michael Jackson’s estate for more.