I think one of the greatest discoveries that I’ve ever made was when I found out that you could play Wii Sports while sitting down on your fat ass. The first thing I remember thinking back then was, “Gee whiz, Nintendo sure did screw up this time. Who’s going to actually be able to lose weight with this thing when you can be just as lazy as ever? They might as well have just given me a regular controller." Not so with Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Wii, though. In addition to party gamers and hardcore MJ fans, this game will appeal to people who want to lose weight. It uses Wii-mote sensors better than any other game I've played.
Now note, when I said the three groups that this game is intended for, I never mentioned casual MJ fans. Being one myself, I found that I lost enthusiasm for the game by about the time I reached the boring "Earth Song." That's about the time I wiped off my sweaty brow and called it quits. Also, I think I’d rather play the old Sega Genesis game, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker than subject myself to another round of being surreptitiously filmed by my girlfriend’s sister. She couldn’t stop laughing at my terrible interpretation of "Thriller."
But, if you are in the three categories that I mentioned above, then this title is the game of your diamond sparkled dreams. It’s a great party game that will burn those calories off and will also allow you to do all the moves you grew up loving when you were younger and didn’t mind grabbing your crotch in public just to imitate your favorite musician. It’s really a game that I find myself not too impressed with myself but can definitely see a lot of people loving.
As I mentioned earlier, the Wii-mote is really effective with this game. I imagine that this is what the X-Box Kinect is like only with a hand accessory. Holding the Wii-mote in one hand, all you have to do is imitate Michael or one of his back-up dancers’ moves and you’ll be hoisting your arms up and attempting to lean forward without falling on your face in no time. It really is just a pick up and play kind of game. So much so, in fact, that it doesn’t even really have an option to teach you how to play. There’s a dance school mode, but all that is is actual videos of people replicating Michael’s moves rather than an actual step-by-step tutorial. The short learning curve is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing in that you can just start moving along with Michael and don’t have to spend a great deal of time informing your friends how to play. But it’s a bad thing because there really doesn’t seem any way that this game increases in difficulty if you’re playing it by yourself. Sure, some songs like “Thriller" might be more difficult than others, but the steeper difficulty isn’t that much steeper at all. I got a pretty good score on "Thriller" without really even trying that much all because I already knew the dance steps for the song.
Again, this both makes the game endearing, and also a little boring. It’s endearing in that I like the fact that I can do well on certain songs because I already know them, but boring in that, what’s the point of continuing to play it if I already did well on the most popular songs? While the track listing is pretty generous with his most popular tracks, that still doesn’t mean I want to dance to “In the Closet” from his “Dangerous” album, or “Speed Demon” from “Bad.” Again, this is where being a hardcore MJ fan really pays off here. But for a casual fan like myself, it’s all kind of blah.
Multiplayer mode is fun if not exhausting. In single player mode, the better you do on a song, the more stars you acquire, which enable you to buy videos of how to do some of MJ’s tougher moves. In Multiplayer mode though, you take on different roles as either a background dancer or MJ himself. It says four people can play the game all at once on the box, but after just playing with one other person, I found this might be a bit difficult if you don’t have a lot of space in your place, as having just two in the same small room can get a bit hectic. You’ll find yourself bumping into each other sometimes. Also, as mentioned earlier, this game will destroy you when it comes to cardio. After only about two songs, I was sweating like a hog, and I’m actually in pretty decent shape. If you don’t mind dripping and sweating next to three others, then go ahead. But I find that this is purely a game you play at a party when all you intend to do is play this game. If not, you’ll find that your party will be smelling like MJ’s backstage, which may not appeal to everyone.
Overall, I applaud Ubisoft for making a game that the hardcore fans of MJ can really appreciate. In making it so easy to pick up and play, though, they kind of eliminated the challenge. You’re pretty much unable to really lose at this game. If you’re one of the three types of people I mentioned earlier in this review, then give this one more star. If not, then leave it as is. It’s a decent game, but it’s not for everyone.
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft Paris
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.