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  • Former SEGA Dev Still Claims Michael Jackson's Sonic 3 Songs Never Made It To Cart

    This song and dance again.

    We thought the story of Michael Jackson's infamous involvement in Sonic 3's soundtrack had finally been well and truly figured out (or, well, close enough to figured out), but a fresh interview with a former SEGA America executive once again threatens to fog things up with an added layer of mystery.

    The man credited as executive co-ordinator on Sonic 3 (and the director of Genesis-era studio SEGA Technical Institute), Roger Hector, claims that Jackson's contributions to the game's BGM never made the final cut, with all the pop megastar's work removed from the project and swapped out in early 1994.

    In an interview with Retro Gamer (via NintendoEverything), Hector said (and we're including the whole thing so as not to lose any context here);


    I get this call from one of Michael Jackson’s people, telling me Sonic was Michael’s favorite game and could he come to SEGA and meet the people who made it. He came in after hours, I gave him a tour and introduced him to the creators of the Sonic games and he was thrilled. You could see he was a total Sonic fan – he was really, really excited. So one of our guys says, ‘Why don’t you write the music for the next Sonic?’ And he says, ‘OK.’ Everyone’s jaw dropped. I’m thinking, ‘How are we gonna work this out?’ but basically, he did write the entire score for Sonic 3.

    I had a CD of it! It was all in the game and we’re just a few weeks away from delivering the final code so it can be produced for Christmas that year and then stories start appearing in the papers about Michael and, you know, him being the bad guy with kids. Everyone panicked. I mean, we had kept it a secret because it was going to be this huge, surprise announcement that Michael was doing the score, then boom, this thing comes out about him.

    SEGA of Japan made the decision to take [his music] out… I had a composer on my staff, who’d done a bunch of videogame music in the past, called Howard Drossin. I told him he had to replace the audio [for Sonic 3], basically 16 weeks’ worth of work, in a week and a half. I said we’d slide food under his door but he couldn’t leave the office. And he did it! He was an amazing guy and has gone on to do a lot of movie music in Hollywood but he got his break at STI as a last-minute replacement for Michael Jackson!


    Now, time for a Rumor Check at this point. We should point out that the above quote has in fact been a long-standing party line from former SEGA America personnel who worked on Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles - that Jackson's work never made it to print and that Howard Drossin (and Jun Senoue) stepped up to replace the whole thing. We've heard this story before, it's not new.

    But, while it's a story that might have carried weight some ten years ago, today it's a little less believable. More recent developments on this story over the last several years, from sources directly involved in Sonic 3's music production, not only confirm Jackson's contributions happened but that they remained on the cartridge. In an interview last year, Brad Buxer confirmed he worked on Sonic 3, for Jackson, and cited specific music tracks that are present in the final release.

    It's also worth mentioning that, thanks in part to the same interview linked above, Jackson's contributions to the game really came exclusively through Buxer. So these days, when we talk about the "Michael Jackson" music in Sonic 3, what we really mean is "Brad Buxer" music. Hector (intentionally or not) is really kind of suggesting that Buxer's music isn't on the cartridge at all, which may not be necessarily accurate.

    Add the fact that mysterious "licensing issues" prevented an entire half of Sonic 3's soundtrack from being included in a remaster of Sonic 3 & Knuckles in Sonic Origins, and that the game itself had previously not seen a re-release in over a decade, and we start to see the picture a little more clearly here.

    However, Hector does have direct experience with the game's development and that cannot be discounted. The question then remains; why is Hector sticking to this particular story a decade on? And if he maintains that his account of matters is accurate, how does that explain the obvious current issues surrounding Carnival Night, Ice Cap and Launch Base Zone's music (among others)?

    Take it all with a pinch of salt - one thing is for sure, it's clear that everyone involved is keen to have their version of the record seen as the straight one.

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    Considering everything we now know about MJ's involvement, his story is clearly wrong. That being said, it's very interesting that even despite all the new information and discoveries we've made over the last decade and a half regarding S3's music situation that Hector continues to stick by his story. Is it because he doesn't want to get in trouble? Or perhaps he truly believes this is how it happened? 

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    1 hour ago, Penny said:

    Considering everything we now know about MJ's involvement, his story is clearly wrong. That being said, it's very interesting that even despite all the new information and discoveries we've made over the last decade and a half regarding S3's music situation that Hector continues to stick by his story. Is it because he doesn't want to get in trouble? Or perhaps he truly believes this is how it happened? 

    Possibly like you said that Hector to stick by his story he doesn't want to get In any trouble In anyway or truly believes how It happened In either both situations again like you mentioned. 

    I don't think we will ever know what really happened with Michael Jackson's Involvement In the Sonic 3 music. To be honest I don't know which sides of the argument Is either telling the real truth behind It all.

    It's very complicated and complex this Michael Jackson's Involvement Sonic 3 music story.

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    Somewhere in the multiverse, there is a universe or two where things went very differently in HIStory (😉)and MJ's Sonic 3 sountrack was released.

    I would love a brief visit to one of these places,just to psml on hearing a "he-he" sound clip for a 1up, a "dont stop till you get enough" "aaawww!" each time you take damage and of course a "cha'mone" each time the end of act score tally completes.

    The Eggman theme is "Bad" of course and Knuckles' beat just becomes outright 20sec clip of the smooth criminal intro.

    And then I will come home, happy in the knowledge that whatever murky story is behind the Sonic 3 soundtrack, that it sounded iconic back in 1994 and it still is in 2023. Regardless of who what when where or how it was made.

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    This is legitimately hilarious to me. "Former SEGA staffer discusses Michael Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3" and the interview is just him saying stuff that was obviously not true when similar interviews were being made 15 years ago and people were already posting comparison videos on YouTube; nevermind now that Sega has actually replaced those tracks and the person who composed them directly has commented on the matter and that we have direct evidence that the other old theory (that the PC tracks were composed for Genesis originally and removed for the Jackson tracks) was the truth.

    I can't wait until the various stupid "Facts about Sonic" Twitter accounts further confuse people on this matter (which, again, was already settled) for years to come.

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    I agree with @Tornado. We basically know the whole story by this point; it's not hard to fill in the blanks of more or less what happened, and we know which tracks are from the MJ team.

    The MJ tracks were fine, and I'm still nostalgic for 1994 whenever I hear them. However, I seem to be in the minority that I prefer all the original non-MJ Japan Sega Sound Team tracks (the ones in the Nov 3, 1993 Prototype and now in Sonic Origins). Those tracks are basically cannon now. They fit the game better, and are better-suited to the Mega Drive sound chip (the MJ tracks use too many low-quality samples).

    Perhaps it would be a different story if MJ had been involved from the beginning, as with Masato Nakamura from Dreams Come True in the first two games, but he was involved too late, and it became a mess of different teams composting. The original Japan team soundtrack is more cohesive.

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