Earlier this year, a long standing internet rumour was confirmed: yes, Michael Jackson really did contribute music to Sonic The Hedgehog 3. For years, hardcore Sonic fans had poured over side-by-side comparisons of MJ songs and the game’s music. But now we know that he definitely was asked to contribute, but then left the project (either because he was unhappy with the Sega Mega Drive’s sound chip, or because the child abuse allegations against him).
But that was far from MJ’s only flirtation with videogames. It makes sense, really. Jackson was one of those rare truly iconic popstars who’s image could be distilled into a handful of 16-bit pixels and it still instantly be identified as him. He was a human cartoon character, in the very best way (he could move and sing like no other human could), and you totally could see him fighting aliens or jumping on giant mushrooms, unlike most performers. If it turned out he was mates with Sonic or Crash Bandicoot, that would have been totally believable. You couldn’t even say that about Prince or Bowie.