Saturday, June 27, 2009

Aaron’s Retro Reviews: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

Hey everyone, it’s Aaron again. Now I hadn’t intended on doing one of these Retro Reviews so quickly, and I also hadn’t intended on doing this game. However, in light of the recent events as most of are well aware of and is even reported on this site, the King of Pop is dead. I could make jokes at his expense, but I chose to do a sort of tribute by playing and reviewing this game, because I think we can all agree Jackson’s music was awesome. That being said I will be totally honest, I’m not going to sugar coat a game if it’s really abysmal. But enough preface, let’s get reviewing “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker” for the Sega Genesis.

In 1988 during Jackson’s glory days he released a film called “Moonwalker” which was actually a series of music videos on tape. One in particular was the extended video for “Smooth Criminal”, in which Michael plays the role of a benevolent gangster? Who fights other gangsters to save children? Apparently Jackson, while playing guardian to some waifish orphans stumbles upon the Lair of one Mr. Big, who wants to get people addicted to drugs on a global scale starting with children. Michael and a child are discovered overhearing this plot and so Mr. Big has to rub them out. Mr. Big attacks Jackson at his abode, but is eluded when Jackson evokes his magical shooting star powers and turns into a car….yes.., I’m serious. After a chase sequence he arrives at club 30 to meet the children and busts out smooth criminal. After the club scene Mr. Big gets a hold of the little waif girl and Jackson goes to save her. When Jackson is captured, Big threatens to inject her with narcotics but she wriggles loose and so Big decides to waste them both. It is then…sigh…I can’t believe I am writing this…He transforms into a giant robot. Yes…Yes…I know…look it up on youtube, you can’t make this stuff up, and this is coming from someone who’s job it is to make stuff up. Anyway, Mr. Big is defeated in his mountain fortress by Jackson who then turns into an aircraft and the kids are saved.

So Mobile suit Jackson saved the day and defeated Mr. Big, who was played be Joe Pesci (funny guy, loved him in home alone). Then time went on and one would think a plot like this would never see the light of day again…but when Michael took an interest in video gaming the video reappeared in a way similar to herpes, and in 1990 the video game version of this video hit arcades and console across the globe. Anyway, let us begin the analyzation. Moonwalker’s controls are well…like it sounds…about as strange as walking on the moon. There’s a button for simple jumps, a button for you basic attacks, and then…-_- the magic button. The basic attacks consist of kicking and punching? Casting out sparkles. But a strangely redeeming factor is the magic attacks. Charging up slightly will allow mini-mike to fire off his hat and make people explode which is nothing too impressive. But the fun comes when you charge it for a certain amount of time, which causes Mike to unleash his dance attack. This move causes every enemy on screen to bust out dancing to a Michael Jackson tune, with mike leading. After the dance most of the enemies drop dead. It’s a sight I find never gets old.

The game follows the plot of the video for the most part…even most of the “zones” reflect places in the video. You begin at club 30, make your way through the streets, the forest (actually a graveyard), the caverns, and finally Big Boss…erhem…Mr. Big’s lair of drug induced doom. The stages are sort of bland but it was the very early 90’s, many games were blandly isometric. But the music is really good, because it’s essentially Mikes greatest hits in Midi form, so if you like his music you’ll enjoy the tunage. The only things that liven up the game play aside from bustin’ out enemy break dancing fests, are occasionally you run into “shooting stars” which turn Michael into a Fu…Effin Optimus Prime who is mostly unstoppable. The final level of the game is flying through space to finally defeat Mr. Big, and this is the worst level of all. To be honest I enjoyed the game, but this level was just shameful. You really can’t keep track of what’s coming at you, it’s clunky control wise and it leads to an ending that basically is nothing more than” Congratulations”.

So all in all, I actually enjoyed the game…but it’s really more fun for a run through of the first few levels, especially when you dance attack some zombies and re-enact thriller. But it’s not worth completing really, the King of Pop was a great musician…but his creative writing needs…needed a little work. But was this Michaels last dabble in the world of video games? It is now widely rumored that he worked on the music for Sonic 3 but was removed from the project due to the arising of certain allegations and court cases that got Jackson in some hot water. After that to my knowledge that was the end of Mike’s short lived career in the world of the vidya. As for the way his life went after that…well I have no comment, but I will say…remember the good times. Remember the good stuff Michael did…and I will say this game was generally something worth remembering because it was really far out there and weird, and actually sort of fun. So, goodnight strange almost alien to us king of Pop, may you rest in piece, your legacy is preserved.

P.S. Here’s a link to the high rez Sparkster pic, just incase anyone wanted to see the detail. So until next time, goodbye, see you next time Retro gamers!

Hi-Rez Sparkster

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