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Great Fun for Any MJ Fan
on December 13, 2010
Before I start the review I just want to let you know that I am both a hardcore videogame and Michael Jackson fan. When I first heard the announcement of a new game (since Moonwalker on the genesis) at E3 in June, I was very excited. When screenshots and videos came out for the Wii version I was very concerned. Ubisoft has created an ugly looking Just Dance clone lacking any distinguishable traits or visual charm. The main character didnt even look like Michael and following along while waving a remote in the air seems silly to me, I think casual gamers might like it though.
In the weeks leading up to the release of both the DS and PSP versions I was surprised to find little to no information about them. It wasn't until a few days after their releases that any videos were up about them. I saw the PSP version only used 2 buttons and looked way too easy, and that the DS version was like the rhythm game Elite Beat Agents. Being a fan of the Elite Beat Agents series I decided to get the DS version which was only 5$ after buying Batman Brave and The Bold for DS as part of a special sale.
The game features a cartoony Michael (in vain of the Beatles Rockband) who dances around performing various moves. During each song you tap, slide, and spin circles in the order they are numbered and while it may sound simple, like Elite Beat Agents it is very fun. There have been many Elite Beat Agents clones over the years but this is easily the best. The game is just as responsive and the notes are laid out just as good as EBA. There are Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulty. Being a bit rusty on my EBA skills I was having trouble doing well on Medium difficulty from the getgo. Some may find this good, others bad, but unlike Elite Beat Agents you wont fail for missing just a few notes, although you definitely can fail a song. The true fun in this game comes from trying to get all the golden coins (which are like the star system in guitar hero). This involves building up a great combo and knowing when to use your built up star power(Again an idea taken from guitar hero), which is gained by hitting glowing notes at the right timing in succession. Another great addition that adds replayability is the ability to "Crown" a song, which involves getting a ridiculously high score knowing exactly when to use your star power and being able to spin Michael really fast.
Trying to achieve 5 coins on medium difficulty is hard enough, but hard mode will keep players trying for more. Which is great because the games tracklist is lacking. Getting more coins and crowns allows you to unlock new songs on the tracklist, collectible Memorabilla, and Jukebox mode. The memorabilla is digital recreations of props from his short films and dance routines like the Billie Jean socks, or the Scream spaceship. Although they are pointless to view it adds more replayability to the game as getting the more difficult ones involve crowning songs on hard mode. The worst part about this game is the tracklist, they are all great MJ songs but the problem is with a few of the choices and the small amount of songs:
Another Part of Me
Black or White
Dont Stop Till You Get Enough
Heal the World
Leave Me Alone
The Way You Make Me Feel
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin
Most of these songs are great choices but the slow tempo Heal the World is not to fun to play. I personally love Streetwalker (which was an unreleased song included on the Bad 2001 rerelease) but it is too obscure for a mainstream audience. Disappointingly there are no songs from HIStory, Blood on the Dancefloor, or Invincible. Some of the songs feature him dancing on a stage in various customes, and others are recreations of the music videos they correspond with. The biggest surprise is that there is no Thriller, which is his biggest hit to casual fans. It is great to have a nice, well made rhythm game on the go and I'd much rather have a well made game with a short tracklist than a game that has a long tracklist but unpolished gameplay (PSP and Wii Versions). So look at the tracklist, if you like the songs, Elite Beat Agents, Michael Jackson, and can find this for cheap than pick it up.