Announcement and Press
' Michael Jackson: The Video Game' was vaguely introduced at Ubisoft's E3 2010 press conference. As the presentation winded down Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot announced (through his thick French accent):
"...before I go if, I have a last announcement to give in fact I am very happy because we have signed a legend. We have been able to work with a team to prepare a product that I am sure you will love. This game is going to be launched at the end of the year when you will see the guys performing on the show what will be important for you to consider is as you will be able to learn how to do those moves you will be able to learn them from somebody who has done it the best so look at it these people, they do and think that with the technology that is available today you will be able to learn how to be as good as those guys or even better. So watch it."
The stage was then filled with dancers who performed a choreographed dance routine to the song Beat It in front of a screen filled with Michael Jackson imagery. After the dance routine finished, master of ceremonies Joel McHale thanked the dancers and the audience and the press conference ended abruptly. No information about the game was provided until Ubisoft issued a press release confirming that they will be releasing a Michael Jackson game where players can relive Jackson's greatest by dancing and singing. The press release also confirmed that the game will feature the most famous tracks from Jackson's extensive catalogue.
The game was eventually renamed from the generic " Michael Jackson: The Video Game" to the acceptable " Michael Jackson: The Experience." Versions for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Playstation Portable were released in November 2010, while the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game (which feature Move and Kinect support) were delayed and eventually released in April 2011.
The songs that appear in the game:
- Another Part Of Me (with Wal-Mart special edition)
- Beat It
- Billie Jean
- Black or White
- Blood on the Dance Floor (Xbox 360/PS3 only)
- Dirty Diana
- Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
- Earth Song
- The Girl Is Mine
- Heal the World
- I Just Can't Stop Loving You (Xbox 360/PS3 only)
- In the Closet
- Leave Me Alone
- Remember the Time
- Rock With You
- Smooth Criminal
- Speed Demon
- Stranger in Moscow (Xbox 360/PS3 only)
- Sunset Driver
- They Don't Care About Us
- Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
- The Way You Make Me Feel
- Who Is It
- Will You Be There
- Workin' Day and NIght
The Xbox 360 release of the game features full-body tracking using the Kinect. The player is projected onto the screen alongside background dancers, similar to the effect used in Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. All songs challenge the player to sing along with portions of the song, using either the Kinect's built-in voice recognition or an external wireless microphone. Some songs, such as "Earth Song" and "Heal the World" are comprised entirely of singing and feature no dance moves.
For the songs which do feature dancing, the options include a practice mode which allows the player to practice individual sections of the song, a "Dance Only" mode which features just dancing, and a "Performance" mode in which the player trades off between dancing and singing. Some songs like "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal" feature a "Master Performance" mode which contains tougher dance routines in an attempt to more closely mimic choreography seen in Michael Jackson's music videos.
In all modes, the player is judged on how well they perform dance moves (or sing lines of the song) and is given a point score and some feedback. A "Perfect", "Good", or "OK" move will increase the player's score multiplier (up to a max of 4x) while a "Miss" or "Almost" will reset the multiplier.
At a certain point in each song, a glowing crown icon appears above the player's head, and they can reach upwards to activate "King Mode," where for a short period of time the multiplier is doubled, similar to Star Power in Guitar Hero games.
At the end of each song, the player is awarded from zero to five stars based on their score. Five-star performances will unlock achievements for each song.