Michael Jackson was a talented singer and dancer, and his legacy lives on in many of the students that were trained to follow or emulate his style, both as backing dancers and in some cases look-alikes and stand-ins. The pop star had a profound effect on the music world as well as on the people who looked up to him. Now, those fans can attempt to step into the shoes once more of the King of Pop and this time it's for Kinect on the Xbox 360.
Using the Kinect's full-body tracking camera and the motion detection software that was developed for Your Shape - Fitness Evolved, Ubisoft has managed to create a dancing and singing game that's both fun, and accessible to a variety of gamers. It should delight fans of Michael Jackson with the tracklist available and boasts a very impressive series of how-to videos found in the Michael Jackson School option.
Menu navigation is similar to YSFE and the motion tracking software has been slightly tweaked from that game. It allows simple and fast navigation of the various game menus and lets you get right to the dancing (and singing if you have a USB or Lips mic plugged in). You can perform a variety of Michael's hits including Earthsong, but that song is vocal only. You can also dance, perform or go right into a master performance which is staggeringly hard to get correct.
You can also learn the various dances in a way similar to Dance Central with various stages of instruction. Diving right in however is the most fun and with the help of flash cards and backing dancers, you can pretty much pick up the moves after a few tries. You're scored on the correct posture and timing as well as a few other factors and compared to Dance Central this one is a really tricky game to get close to %100 on.
It's a good workout too since many of Michael's dance moves are highly energetic and tax even the fittest person to perform them with any kind of accuracy. Each save for songs like Earthsong has a vocal and a dance part, thankfully you're not singing and dancing at the same time, you take turns doing both.
If you're doing remarkably well, you'll notice a King Power Crown appear over your head, hit that with an outstretched arm and you'll trigger a huge score bonus and be able to rack up points a lot quicker than normal. Just like Star Power in the various Guitar Hero games. The game is fun and the motion tracking makes it a lot more about dancing and skill than just waving your arms around madly and hoping you hit the right moves.
The tracklist should please a lot of Michael's fans, with classic hits such as BAD, Beat It, Earthsong, Smooth Criminal and Thriller to name some of the tracks available. Of course we dived right into Thriller and must have repeated that dance over and over again just to see if we couldn't get a better score. In the end everyone was pretty much in love with the way the game's presented and just how much fun it really was.
Using the same technology as YSFE the game builds on that, putting you in the very shows of Michael Jackson and into his dances, backed by other dancers and offering a stylised version of your own shape, body and clothing, packed with sparkling blue and white - just like a Twilight Vampire sparkles in the sun. In all seriousness though, it works. It is possible to feel somewhat amused and elated to see your on-screen self all lit up and trailing starlight spangles in a very Moonwalker way.
Each song has a themed area based on some part of the song, a huge tree for Earthsong or the graveyard for Thriller are two examples. They're done really well and they're not overly busy either so there's no real confusion when you're trying to dance. The in-game representation of you is really good and you can actually tell who it is, just the same as in YSFE.
Lighting and special effects are decent enough and the HUD is not cluttered at all, the flash cards are well designed and presented. All in all graphically it's a solid package.
The backing dancers performed and motion captured all the moves, so the animation is spot on.
There's a subtle sound layer to the game, it's not overly intrusive.
There's not much dialogue but there are some really nice recordings of Michael's many hits, they all come through crystal clear and beautiful through even simple TV speakers. So much better on 5.1 though.
You can Battle or you can team up with 2-4 players. Each player in Battle goes one at a time and the best score wins.
You've been struck by a Smooth Criminal
It's hard not to like Michael Jackson: The Experience since it's already been out for Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP. It's different though from those versions and features brand-new choreography for the PS3 Move and Xbox 360 Kinect that makes it a must for many of Michael's fans. Whilst it doesn't really do much too completely innovate and redefine motion tracking dance games, it's a solid entry and that's what matters.