Man in the Mirror
Michael Jackson reigned as the King of Pop from his days as the young front man of the Motown label group, The Jackson 5, to his tragic and untimely death as a 58 year-old manchild accused of all sorts of crimes ranging from tax evasion to pedophilia. At the peak of his carreer, aged 24, he released the album “Thriller”, which in less than a year topped the charts (and still does to this day) as the best selling album of all time.
Six years later, in 1988, a movie named “Moonwalker” was released as an anthology of his career, using his greatest hits as the soundtrack. As is the custom, even when it makes no friggin’ sense, a video game adaptation followed and received surprisingly good reviews.
First released for the arcade systems in a totally different format, the game brought in enough money for a console port. As a weird ass suburban kid, I really enjoyed his music so when my mother bought me a SEGA Genesis, it came with this game. At 5 years of age, I didn’t realize the absurdity of the situation. I mean, can you imagine if Justin Bieber made a video game adaptation of his shitty movie and released it for the PS4? Oh yes, I went there. Regardless, it quickly became my favorite game. Well, not that I had that many games anyway.
Back to the game. It plays like a classic sidescroller, except you control a pixelated version of the charismatic pop singer that can turn into a robot (more about that later). The goal of the game is to free children (you’re allowed to laugh, you juvenile pricks) hiding in all sorts of odd places like closets or car trunks.
Once you freed enough rape fodder, Bubbles comes out of nowhere riding a flying segway made of light or some shit like that, sits on your shoulders and guides you toward the boss battle by pointing in the appropriate direction. The direction he points to is kinda confusing since he just keeps moving his arm in every direction.
The enemies change from level to level, ranging from dogs and spiders to gangsters and zombies. Your weapon is magic dust that fires out of your hand, killing the bad guys. Michael also has access to an array of special powers that includes (but not limited to) the exploding hat throw. If you hold the magic button too long it drains your power bar, which doubles as your health bar, rendering you useless in the sense that your petty kicks no longer throw fairy dust and you will most surely die. There’s also an attack, worthy of mention, that makes every enemy on the screen dance to their death. Even the dogs.
Sometimes you stumble upon shooting stars that transform Michael into a robot, where you become invincible for a short amount of time with the ability to fly and see children through walls. The downside to this is that while you can easily locate the kids, you can’t save them—probably because robotic child molesters are scary as hell. But seriously, who cares about completing the level when you can wreck stuff, throw lasers from your eyes and float around?
Slave To The Rythm
Sound-wise, if you enjoy classic post-disco music, you’re going to be served. Moonwalker boasts 5 of the greatest Michael Jackson songs from the “Thriller” era in glorious 16-bit version and has a soundtrack lasting 12 minutes. Although people have been critical of the Genesis’ SFX capacity, for this game, they did really well.
The remixes (obviously with no vocals) were composed by Hiroshi Kubota, who also worked on the original Sonic trilogy (for which he was credited as Jimita). From the main menu, you can also access a special karaoke mode and sing along. This feature seems stupid but keep in mind that back then most people did not have karaoke machines at home and DVD players were not a thing yet.
This is It
To conclude, there’s a whole lot to be said about this game, being that it is one of the rare video games featuring musicians that is not a dumb Rock Band-spinoff or Dancing game, but I’ll invite you to forge your own opinion about it by playing it. Personally, I rate it a C out of 78, giving it a score of 11-stars. It can be easily grabbed off eBay, Amazon or thrift stores for a pretty reasonable fee.
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