Aug 10, 2008

Video Game review: Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

The early 90's were an interesting time in video gaming, where graphics were coming of age, but you could still pretty much make up anything and it was considered an awesome idea for a game. Mutant hockey players? Why not? Vampire slaying bloodline on a never ending quest to vanquish Dracula? Sounds like fun to me! A puffball thing with an insatiable appetite? That's the makings of a successful franchise, my friend.

Back then, even celebrity endorsements hadn't lost their credibility yet. Before John Madden had lent his name to a football empire, and Tiger Woods cashed in as well, Michael Jackson had a humble game on the Sega Genesis, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.


Michael Jackson doing the thriller dance with a couple of stray dogs. As good an idea for a game as any.

It's a game that hasn't really gotten better with age. Not because it's difficult to play, or it's mechanics were bad. It's just... well, we all know what happened to Michael since the early 90's. He just got weird. He went from a pop superstar to an albino alien autopsy after what has to be several botched cosmetic surgeries. Oh, and the (alleged) children touching thing.

Which is why this game really is out of sorts. In the game, Michael has to rescue children that are hiding. In the first few levels, you're in a old-timey pool hall searching for children behind doors and windows. Once you find them, they ride off in a comet. And when you find them all, you get a monkey that directs you to the boss. Because somehow he knows. I really wonder if the people making this game had a crystal ball or something.


Picture above: Michael ignoring the scantily clad woman, hupming the air and a child crying in the upper left corner. Not pictured: My dignity.

If the concept of the game wasn't weird enough, Michael's attacks consist of several kicks and dance moves that spray out some kind of deadly fairy dust. When an enemy comes into contact with said fairy dust, they either fall right over (heart attack?) or are no longer bound by gravity and fly off screen.

As a special attack, Michael can dance around at the cost of health. In this game's logic, you damage yourself trying to spin around. After using about half his life bar, all enemies on the screen bust out into a dance with Michael and afterwards collapses. I like to imagine what would happen if that concept were applied to Broadway.


Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow!

All in all, not a terrible game for its time. I was able to play it for a bit the other day without having to jam the controller through my head. That's a compliment, and about the only one I can give the game. Because now, in 2008, the game is just unintentionally weird... and a little creepy.

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