Let That Rhythm Get Into You

With all the Michael Jackson merchandise that’s turned up since his death last year, it was hardly a surprise when Ubisoft threw its hat into the ring with a video game that’s scheduled to appear in stores this November, one that lets you sing and dance to the songs that made him famous. As if the novelty of Jackson’s catalog weren’t a big enough draw, “Michael Jackson: The Experience” employs new hardware called “Move” and “Kinect,” which let your PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 keep up with your moves. If you haven’t figured out how to moonwalk yet, start practicing.

Of course, with so many musicians getting their own video games, it might seem as if Jackson showed up late to the party. Believe it or not, though, he probably got there before anybody else – about two decades ago, as a matter of fact. If you played the early Sega games growing up, chances are you got a hold of “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker,” itself an update of an arcade hit.

In it, Jackson wears the clothes he had on in his “Smooth Criminal” video, but there’s other stuff on the soundtrack, too, like “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” There’s even a level where you dance with zombies, but instead of hearing “Thriller,” you’ll have to settle for “Another Part of Me,” which Sega probably put in for copyright reasons. (Without “Thriller,” those zombies might as well dance to “The Way You Make Me Feel.”)

The new Ubisoft game is a pretty big upgrade, one that abandons the premise of fighting off bad guys and just lets you enjoy the music for what it is. If it’s at all like “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band,” it might provide gamers with a loose narrative, if only to give them a sense of what kind of progress they’re making.

On top of everything, you’ll have more music to choose from, including lesser-known stuff like “Earth Song” and “Who Is It.” It’ll sound a lot better than the synthesized soundtrack on the Sega Genesis, too.

More importantly, it’s less whimsical than “Moonwalker,” with its robots, magic and celebrity villains. (You wind up battling Joe Pesci at the end.) That shouldn’t suggest that “Moonwalker” isn’t any good, but given how wacky the singer became through the years, a little normalcy would be a nice change of pace.

Just be glad this new game doesn’t have a chimpanzee in it.

About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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