With Sonic Origins gearing up for release later this week, Sega is finally releasing the definitive collection of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog titles for Sega Genesis and Sega CD. This collection not only brings these beloved title to modern platforms, but features the first re-release of the full third entry, Sonic 3 and Knuckles, since 2011’s Sonic Classic Collection for the Nintendo DS. This re-release comes at a cost however, as the game is losing some of its soundtrack, and fans are not impressed with the replacement tracks so far.
There has been much speculation over the years as to why Sonic 3 and Knuckles has not been shown the same love as the first two entries in the series in regard to re-releases, with the first two titles appearing on almost every major Sega collection or compilation, while Sonic 3 and Knuckles has not reappeared since 2011. The theory which has since been more or less confirmed is that famous pop artist Michael Jackson contributed to the music for the third game and its counterpart Sonic and Knuckles, which has led to difficulties behind the scenes with re-releasing the title in its original state.
Recently, Sega confirmed that Sonic 3 and Knuckles would receive changes to its soundtrack, mainly for stages such as Ice Cap Zone, Carnival Night Zone, and Launch Base Zone, likely to remove any association with the tracks composed by Jackson and his team. It was also confirmed that these replacement tracks would be based on music used in the PC port Sonic and Knuckles Collection, released in 1997, and a prototype version of Sonic 3 discovered in 2019. While fans have mixed opinions on these tracks compared to their original (Michael Jackson composed) counterparts, many believe the versions used in the Genesis prototype are superior to the PC release’s versions.
Unfortunately, despite fans’ preference in the prototype Genesis versions and promising that the tracks would be remastered by series composer Jun Senoue, the tracks have been teased online and fans are already underwhelmed by Sega’s reworking of the tracks. This mainly stems from the fact that the tracks bare most resemblance to the controversial PC port’s MIDI versions as opposed to the prototype’s versions, which sound more similar to the soundtrack to the rest of the game and the other Genesis Sonic titles.
While this soundtrack change is sure to remain controversial, Sonic Origins comes with a lot of beneficial changes to the original games, primary of which being the porting of the games to the Retro Engine, the engine used to power the remasters of the games on mobile platforms and 2017’s Sonic Mania. Each game also comes with new animated cutscenes and the ability to use the drop dash introduced in Sonic Mania. Even with the changes made to Sonic 3 and Knuckles‘ soundtrack, Sonic Origins seems to be the definitive way to experience the titles on modern platforms.
Sonic Origins releases on June 23rd 2022 for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.