Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. Two of the best games on the Sega Genesis (and my personal favorite games in the Sonic series), these two games have been a subject of discussion for years among fans, the biggest being the mysteries surrounding the game’s development. It’s already known that the two games were originally going to be one huge game that ultimately had to be cut into two, but one thing that’s eluded fans for years are the games soundtracks, specifically what involvement the King of Pop himself Michael Jackson had on it. After years of speculating, it would appear that we now finally have an answer to this mystery.
In a piece over on the Huffington Post, a fan by the name of Ben Mallison did some research into this long discussed rumor about Michael Jackson’s involvement in the game’s incredible soundtrack, complete with interviews with people who worked on it, including Brad Buxer, Bobby Brooks, and Doug Grigsby III, as well as Sonic & Knuckles composer Howard Drossin. It’s a fascinating read that I recommend everyone check out when they have a chance, but the short and sweet answer is yes. Michael Jackson did in fact work on both of the game’s soundtracks, as confirmed by Buxer, Brooks, and Grisby.
The big question then remains: why wasn’t Michael Jackson listed in either games credits? For years fans have had two theories as to why that it is: some say it was because Jackson wasn’t a fan of the Genesis (or Mega Drive as it’s known outside of North America) sound chip quality, while others say at the time Sega removed Jackson due to his infamous molestation scandal that was happening at the time. It turns out that both reasons were correct, as Jackson was reportedly disappointed with the overall quality of the songs, and after the molestation allegations surfaced, many sponsors and deal made with Jackson were dropped altogether, Sega being one of them, thus forcing Sega to redo the entire soundtrack to remove any reference to Jackson (which obviously failed, as his influence can still be heard in the final game). This then begs another questions: what happened to the originals? Unfortunately, things are a bit more divisive, in that while producer Roger Hector claims all the music was removed, both Drossin and Grigsby both deny this, claiming that the originals are still somewhere within the game, with Drossin claiming he didn’t touch some of the tracks.
Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that the mysteries surrounding Sonic 3 & Knuckles will keep many a gamer busy for years to come. At the very least, one major mystery appears to have been finally solved.