Cha’mone! Michael Jackson’s most successful period was a little before my time, but his music will live long in the memory. He was a true superstar and this was reflected in the world mourning we all experienced when he passed away. Some of you may remember the arcade cult hit Moonwalker whereby you would play as Michael Jackson and kick some bad guy ass through the medium of dance. With such a big name on a dance title a lot of fans will be disappointed if Michael Jackson: The Experience is nothing more than a regular dance title.
In Michael Jackson: The Experience there are a reasonable selection of songs on offer that include such stellar hits as Bad, Beat It, Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal and Thriller. Using the Wii Remote you must re-enact Michael Jackson’s dance routines which are presented on screen. The aim in Michael Jackson: The Experience is to dance in rhythm and as closely as possible to the dancers on screen. During the routine, pictograms appear showing the next move, which will help you learn the choreography and memorise the dance moves. For each movement, Michael Jackson: The Experience evaluates your performance in terms of rhythm & execution. There are also gold moves which are the big point manoeuvres.
The routines are based on M.J.’s (a little less time consuming to type compared to Michael Jackson!) original choreography, which is a positive addition but the original choreography used the dancers entire body. You’ll find the whole process very frustrating because this is the Wii you are using, so the Wii Remote is the only limb as such that is registering points. No matter how hard you try to dance you may as well just put all the energy into the hand that is holding the Wii Remote. But even doing that won’t stop you becoming annoyed at the amount of times your moves don’t register!
Graphically, Michael Jackson: The Experience is less than average, which unfortunately affects a lot of dance/rhythm games. You’re treated to a faceless Michael who is supported by dancers whose attire is very basic. The only time anything sparkles on screen is when one of the gold moves are performed correctly, which is startling considering the huge shows and multi-million pound videos that Michael Jackson has taken part in. The music sounds great, which was always going to be the case, it’s just a shame there are no other noticeable sound effects.
There is no progression in Michael Jackson: The Experience or any workable structure to speak of because all you can do is pick a song to dance to or choose to practice a routine. There are so many features Ubisoft could have implemented such as entering a dance-off competition against the best Michael Jackson dancers or maybe even some kind of rhythm-based story. You can unlock instructional tutorials which help you improve your dancing but they tend to be move-specific rather than a tutorial of an entire video. Multiplayer just multiplies the lack of fun, so even that feature is a non-starter.
Unfortunately, Michael Jackson: The Experience is a very poor game that is hard to recommend to even the most avid Jacko fan. It would be a much more fulfilling experience to simply play a Michael Jackson ‘best of’ album and dance unaided with friends. The two main problems are that first of all Michael Jackson used his entire body to dance, just like most dancers do, the Wii remote is simply too restrictive, and secondly, Michael Jackson: The Experience is a very limited game in its own right devoid of any real fun or, dare I say it, ‘experience’! If you’re at a party and someone suggests playing this I’d strongly suggest you to tell them to ‘Beat It’ because Michael Jackson: The Experience is a very ‘Bad’ game!
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