“You could turn into a robot Michael and fire laser beams from your hands!”
Neverland Ranch, he didn’t appear in a videogame until well into his career – a tie-in with his 1990 vanity film, Moonwalker.
The game followed a familiar side-scrolling combat formula while embracing Jackson’s eccentricity. The King of Pop, wearing his Smooth Criminal-era white suit, dispatched numerous goons while searching for some kidnapped children. Combat moves included kicking and flinging his fedora, and even dancing. (When he danced, the villains joined in, but soon became exhausted.)
The arcade version had a special treat: You could turn into a robot Michael and fire laser beams from your hands!
Ten years after Moonwalker, Jackson appeared briefly as “Space Michael” in the futuristic music dance game Space Channel 5. In this case, Jackson courted Sega looking for an opportunity to appear in the game. Even more bizarrely, two years later Jackson popped up in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2.
This cartoonish game had a number of special guest stars from the era, including basketball legend Shaq. The popstar agreed to be photographed and participated in the developers’ motion capture.
Jackson’s influence rippled far beyond music, and tributes to his image and his dancing style have appeared in games as disparate as Leisure Suit Larry and Plants vs Zombies.
Which brings us to Michael Jackson: The Experience, a much more fitting game for the star. The dance game brings an animated Jackson to the gamer’s screen and trains you to mimic the dancer onscreen. Jackson was involved with the game before he died, and I imagine he would have loved the new motion-capture controls.
Michael Jackson was ahead of his time in many ways, and it seemed like we all had to wait until technology was ready to give him the videogame he deserved.