Michael Blaker’s Retro Game Friday: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.


Hey all, I’m back with a classic game that’s from over three decades ago for this week’s Retro Game Friday. It’s Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker.

Plot: The plot is based off the Smooth Criminal portion of the film that this was named after, with the player controlling Michael Jackson and trying to rescue people in each level. It was really nonsensical, but it was nonetheless incredibly successful. It actually debuted in the arcade, where it was given quite a spectacular presentation in both graphics and sound quality for the time, which included musical clips from the Smooth Criminal song.

Gameplay: The home version was made by Sega, and it was a competent 2D Side-scroller action game for the Genesis. The really crazy thing about it was the ability to make Michael Jackson start dancing using his special move and then charging it up. If done for long enough, it forced every enemy on screen to start dancing along in time with him, and after they finish, they either are defeated or severely damaged because nobody could keep up with his dance moves.

Art: It’s not aged perfectly, but it’s done better than most 3D games have that released later that decade. The real standout here was the animated choreography, which was pretty awesome, at least for being done in 2D.

Music: Moonwalker included music from the film and from Thriller. The music was a big draw, especially for his fans.

Overall: A game that is incredibly bizarre, but most likely due to Michael Jackson’s fame and a surprisingly playable interface, did incredibly well.

For those who like: Side-scrollers, Action, Michael Jackson, Great Choreography, and Good Music.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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