Michael Jackson is the most iconic dancer in living history. From people attempting to do the Moonwalk at a disco to pale imitations of Thriller in music videos, Michael had a huge effect on popular culture. With motion sensing video games becoming the norm, why was Michael Jackson: The Experience not thought up earlier?
From the moment the game loads up the Triumph International Inc ident – the short clip that shows during the opening of the movie Moonwalker – you know its going to be a magical experience.
A total of 26 songs are make up the Experience, with over 26 different routines to dance – some duets, some with the option of being a backing dancer – all fantastically presented with plenty to smile about: Once you insert the game disc the Thriller dance, the Beat It dance Smooth Criminal will likely be the first choices for many.
OK, Michael Jackson: The Experience could be seen as Just Dance with a Michael Jackson face lift , but rather than trying to please everyone like its predecessor challenges the player to dance well, rather than for fitness purposes. The addition of the progress bars replace on screen scores and show how well you’re progressing, with each point scoring a star used to unlock special features.
The choreography is either the same or very similar to the original seen in his videos, with some parts repeated to make a full eight bar. As most of Michael Jackson’s videos didn’t have full routines, the dances use the same phrases for each part of the song (verse, bridge, and chorus are often the same each time), but retain the familiarity of moves and keep in style.
There are some awful dances too, including Heal the World and The Girl Is Mine which might be better performed with a hairbrush in front of a bedroom mirror. Thankfully most songs on the disc are his party anthems.
Again, drawing a comparison to Just Dance, which is aimed at beginners with little technical ability, Michael Jackson: The Experience ditches cheesy dancing for the iconic moves that are much harder to pull off on beat thanks to Michael’s syncopate movements and improvised posing! The duet in Remember the Time even involves a complex tutting routine with a fellow dancer which will take a few tries to master, and In the Closet involves having to get close and grind with your partner…
Move Like Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson: The Experience also has unlockable features that reward you for dancing well in the form of how to videos in the Michael Jackson Dance School. The developers managed to recruit This Is It choreographer Travis Payne, Maryss from Paris of the Beat Freaks and Madonna’s choreographer Brahim.
The first reward is a warm up and stretch, which arguably shouldn’t be unlockable, but further bonuses include step-by-step introductions to Michael Jackson’s iconic moves.
The unlockable videos that don’t extend longevity alot, but are still a pretty cool addition. Another similarity to the Just Dance games is that every single routine can be played, so there’s no sense of progressing when your dancing improves.
Some players may raise a point that the Wii remote doesn’t pick up how well you execute the moves unless you hold it so the top of the controller remains horizontal at all times, which doesn’t fit well with how freely Michael danced. There may be a technique to holding the controller, but unless your ambition is to win everything, most players will be too busy having fun dancing.
Maybe when the game is released on the X-Box Kinect the elite dancers will have their chance to shine?
Just Beat It
MJ fans will love this. References to his songs, videos, albums and dance routines are everywhere, and the involvement of the Jackson Estate has been a positive partnership with the developers, retaining the impact of Michael’s messages in a dancing game rather than feeling like a cash-in.
Some of the highlights of Michael Jackson: The Experience include references to the This Is It version of the They Don’t Really Care About Us routine, dancing to Black Or White and the iconic Smooth Criminal, with some other surprises included in Ghosts.
The dances, backgrounds and presentations are as varied as Michael was in his creative approach to his music and is one of the cooler additions to the growing motion-sensing dance game market.
Michael Jackson: The Experience is out now and can be bought from Amazon.