In order to re-release Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sega has had to replace some of its music with the original, prototype tracks.
While the first two Mega Drive Sonic The Hedgehog games have seen numerous re-releases, the same can’t be said for Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
The last time it re-released was for Steam in 2011, so its inclusion in Sonic Origins is a big deal, but it comes with a major caveat. Unlike the other games in the compilation, it will not feature its original soundtrack.
It doesn’t sound like all the music is being replaced, but certain tracks will be absent. That said, their replacements won’t be entirely new.
Instead, the game will now have music tracks from a prototype version, ones that have been repurposed by Sonic series composer Jun Senoue, who got his start with Sonic The Hedgehog 3.
These details were confirmed by social media manager Katie Chrzanowski, in response to fan questions regarding the music.
She added that the aim is to have the music sound as faithful as possible. It’ll even use the same sound chip used for the Mega Drive. You can hear her address the issue in the livestream below from the 9:56 mark.
One of Sonic Mania’s developers, Twitter user Stealth (who has also contributed to Sonic Origins), provided further clarification, saying that some fans will recognise the songs from Sonic 3 & Knuckles’ 1997 PC port.
‘Don’t ask me why this change is necessary now and expect a solid answer,’ they explained. ‘I actually don’t have any more information on it than is already available to you.
‘Given the apparent circumstances though, it seems a reasonable compromise to have Sonic 3 be released on modern platforms.’
As for why this is happening to being with, it’s because of certain legal issues that surround Sonic 3 & Knuckles soundtrack, which have also prevented a modern re-release.
It’s widely believed that pop star Michael Jackson contributed music to the game and was left uncredited. Recently, keyboardist and Jackson collaborator Brad Buxley confirmed this himself in an interview with the Abbey Road Institute, although Sega has regularly denied it.
As Stealth explained in their Twitter thread, the recent discovery of a Sonic 3 prototype proves that Jackson’s music was used to replace tracks that were made for the game prior to his involvement.
It’s those tracks that Senoue has remastered for Sonic Origins. While certain nostalgic pieces may be gone, getting to experience the game pre-Jackson will be interesting. Plus, it means the music won’t feel entirely out of place.
Sonic Origins releases for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC on June 23.
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