“Experience the baddest game ever.” – from the box…I’m serious.
The story of Moonwalker “The Game” is exactly the same as the movie. For those who don’t know, Moonwalker the movie was a series of music videos or short clips with MJ’s own “Moonwalker” film starting in the middle. The movie and game are about “Mr. Big” (played by Joe Pesci in the flick), a drug dealing, kidnapping gangster who uses the drugs on the children and turning them into his own personal slaves. It is up to you (MJ) to use your magic power of the dance to stop Mr. Big, and get the children out of harms reach.
(Michael’s popularity was enormous at the time. He was such a huge star, SEGA was counting on his arcade to Genesis port to help carry their new system. Check out this three page add, the first part of which read – “SEGA Does”.) UPDATE: See our retro Rewind: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (Arcade) for some info (video included) on the coin-op version of the game.Moonwalker on the Genesis is a 2D beat em up. You move the “King of Pop” from left to right and up and down staircases or elevators. The five stages have a total of three levels within them for a grand total of 18 stages (not including the very last battle). Every stage is fairly small and very puzzle like. This is because Moonwalker is half puzzler or, maybe just half annoying – I’ll explain.
The main object of the game is rescuing the kidnapped children, a different amount per level. Every single kid is a small blond girl referred to as a “Katy”. Katy is one of the kids from the movie. It’s pretty easy finding the scattered Katys. Want a clue? Every single one of them is hidden in back of an object on screen. Whether it be a closet door, the trunk of a car, or even a gravestone, there isn’t much mystery as to where to look. Add this repetitive gameplay to the game’s shorter level design, and Moonwalker becomes very average, very fast.This brings me to the game’s biggest negative, and that is, the way MJ’s special moves are linked to his life bar. Yes, to break out into a dance or even throw your cool exploding hat requires life. Without a life bar you can’t dance, and without dancing, you have about two moves. It’s true that for each Katie you rescue, your life will be recovered a little, but you still won’t feel safe dancing up a storm and will most likely stick with Michael’s basic “fairy dust kick” to dish out most of your damage. If you couldn’t guess, the fairy dust kick never feels like it hits anything.
Now this isn’t to say there isn’t anything good or fun about Moonwalker. Its got an awesome soundtrack which features synthesized versions of some of MJ’s biggest hits for starters. And even though it may sound dumb (and it is), being so cool your enemies just can’t help but to break out into dance with you, instead of attacking you has a bad-ass feeling to it.
The game succeeds at being different to say the least - you get to do the “beat-it” dance with a group of dogs, MJ can be hit by “secret” flying comets which transform him into a giant robot, and the game’s final confrontation is reminiscent of an Star Wars X-Wing battle, something I certainly wasn’t expecting. Check it all out in the video below. Let’s dance!.