Dance games like Just Dance and Dance Central are becoming some of the most popular party games out there. So it’s not surprising that they would showcase a game with one of the best performers ever lived, Michael Jackson. Already making its rounds on the Wii, Michael Jackson: The Experience sounds like it would be perfect for the full body tracking system Kinect? However technical issues holds this game back from being the ultimate party game.
The game works like other dance games, learn the choreography and then play the songs to do the steps along with it. Similar to Dance Central the game shows the next dance move coming up through queued flash cards that are controlled by timers. Another thing that is interesting is the use of not only dancing but singing along with the tracks as well. Since the Kinect has a built in microphone, we were actually able to configure it to hear our voice so there would be no need to hold a microphone physically of any kind but you can if you have one.
Each song specific stages have some nice flashy colors or even the video running in the background. You will see yourself on screen through the camera as the main performer and have a number of backup dancers. Personally I don’t think the software to place you in the game as the star of the show is there yet. They should have stuck with the Wii avatar versions of Michael Jackson and dancers in the game or something else nor do the background dancers on the Xbox 360 version have any appeal to them either. Not to mention that the person they got for the silhouette Michael Jackson for the Wii is a better performer then any on the Xbox 360 version.
Now if everything I had mentioned earlier worked seamlessly with the game then all would be great, unfortunately it doesn’t. First a game such as this would normally have levels of difficulty in performances. In Michael Jackson: The Experience it doesn’t have that, you either perform the dance, perform the dance and sing along or do the song with different flash cards and almost double the speed which is called Master Performance. What’s more confusing then that is those three options are not available for every song. Some only provide one set difficulty while some others are actually only vocal performances. This is a real bummer if you were looking forward to performing a hard version of choreography for a fast song when none is available. An example is how Bad and Just Leave Me Alone never felt challenging.
Practice mode will get you through the dancing aspect, allowing you to learn the dance steps by sections of the song. The mode in itself is hard to get the moves perfect however since there are no tools on what exactly your doing wrong if you mess up and it does not allow you to slow it down. As mentioned before some songs have Master Performance which can be seen as the hard version of a particular routine but some of what happens here is not explained. Sometimes a flash card will make you do the dance step twice as fast, sometimes it’ll double it up and sometimes it’ll tell you to perform moves that are not in practice for the song at all.
Party Mode could have been the games saving grace but this somehow falls short as well. While not terrible it doesn’t get all players involved the way you would want them to be. While performing together can actually get fun to play, dance battling will make those on opposing teams finish the complete song before the other can go.
MJ School is an entirely separate part of the game which are video tutorials of some of Michael Jackson’s most famous dance moves. This mode and while not actually a mode is somewhat cool as it is infuriating at the same time. How? Well the videos will go through the songs that are in the game and show you how to do choreography with some of his best known dancers as in turn you were a dancer yourself. The most annoying part about this is many of the dance moves within the tutorials are not actually in the songs to do themselves! or are a dumb down version of them. Some easily scream Master Performances but don’t make the cut.
The game is somewhat plagued with things that either seemed to be missing, not explained or plain borken. Aside everything that has been mentioned it doesn’t feature online leaderboards (or any you can actually witness), short playlist of songs (Scream is missing along with others) and has plenty of detection issues (Some moves just don’t read correctly at all). The vocal aspect of the game also doesn’t have any pitch direction so its hard to know how you can improve.
I wanted to love this game, I really did and while some fun can definitely be had, it has more to do with being a seasoned player of dance games. New comers will have a hard time jumping into the weird flash card set up and art or lack of tutorials on how things should function. A separate mode with the avatars and dances from the Wii/PS3 versions would help the game tremendously as the direction for the Kinect just isn’t cutting it. Those looking to build up there library of dance games or want to experience some of Michael’s cool dance moves will have to ask themselves how bad they want this in there collection. While the gameplay and modes are somewhat flawed, it is Michael Jackson and chances are you won’t see these songs anywhere else for awhile.
[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]
Overall = 6.7