Retro Recap

Retro Recap: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

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I could have just left this article right there and the name speaks for itself, yet as a writer, I feel it is still my duty to write something about this forgotten gem. A game where you play as MJ could never go wrong, but a game where you play as Michael where you save the day by dancing your enemies to death. What isn’t there to love? Oh and if you think this game is easy picking, you’d be mistaken. Not only is it fun and addictive, it can be frustrating too, often because you don’t know where the last hostage is being held.

Having multiple versions under the same name be released on various platforms, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker has become a cult classic. Based around the movie of the same name, Michael embarks on a quest to save the kidnapped kids from the evil Mr Big. Home Computer versions were more of a maze like game, incorporating a combination of platforming, shooting and beat ‘em up styles of gameplay. Certain levels even included stealth missions whereby Michael had to collect various props while avoiding crazed fans. Ah the life of a popstar…

MJ - Cover
Damn those 16bit Cartridges. They don’t make ’em like they used to…

Aside from the arcade version which contained multiplayer capabilities, the Master System and Mega Drive, or Genesis for all you North American folk, instalment was where MJ’s Moonwalker stood out the most. The game starts with the eponymous scene from the movie where the room is initially dimmed, until our suave hero, Michael flips a coin into the jukebox and the 8bit version of Smooth Criminal begins to play.

Unlike the computer version, this game focuses on the beat ‘em up style of gameplay, traversing the level to find the kidnapped kids, who have been hidden in the most awkward of locations. In a unique feature, Michael has a gauge in which he can use his magical dance powers, however, this also doubles up as a health bar, so rapid overuse can, in fact, result in your untimely demise. Various trademark Michael Jackson antics can be noted during gameplay, such as the iconic moonwalk and the not-so-family friendly crotch grab. Michael even contains a special move whereby he somehow entices a full room of enemies to dance along to one of his tracks, which leads them to, what I can only assume, is being danced to death.

MJ - Gameplay
The simplicity, yet brilliance of it all…

Another noteworthy point about this game is its soundtrack. 8bit versions of various classic Michael tracks are dotted throughout the levels. There’s just something very special about moonwalking towards your enemies then dancing them to death to the sound of an 8bit Billie Jean. That kind of magic is very difficult to replicate, even by today’s standards.

Facts you probably knew about MJ’s Moonwalker:

  • Michael Jackson himself worked on the game alongside the various developers
  • Thriller was left out of the games soundtrack as it was not written by Michael
  • The console version was actually an evolved copy of the Home Computer version
  • Side note about MJ, he actually worked on the soundtrack for Sonic 3
MJ - Sonic
Shame his music never made the final cut…

For those of you who wish to give this classic a go, yet don’t still own the relevant system, or can’t be bothered to dig it out, you can play it online. Yes you heard me; Michael Jackson’s Moowalker is on the web and is very much playable.
The link the online game for all you lovely people who fancy a bit of nostalgia:
Play MoonWalker Right Here

What did you think of MJ Moonwalker? Have you not played it until now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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