When I heard that the new Michael Jackson video games for Wii, DS and Kinect were going to be dance games I was hugely disappointed. “What else would you expect them to be?” you may ask, and that is a fair question. I knew it was unlikely, but a small part of me was hoping that we would see some kind of follow up to the classic Sega title Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. That game had it all; a Michael Jackson soundtrack, scrolling beat-em-up action and some great boss fights, not least of which was the legendary Stray Dogs. Yes, there was a video game where you used Michael Jackson to kick the ever-living shit out of a bunch of dogs.
Why this game doesn’t have a sequel is beyond me…
The infamous dog fight took place in Level 2-3, you’ve just left the club from the first level (a great introduction to the game, beating up gangsters to the tune of Smooth Criminal) and now you’re out on the streets, as Michael Jackson dishes out his own brand of justice on the no-good street punks while jamming to a heavily distorted rendition of ‘Beat it’ coming from the Mega Drive speakers. But street punks and Gas-Mask wearing soldiers (Don’t question it, just go with it) aren’t the only thing the King of Pop had to deal with, soon enough you were getting attacked by Doberman dogs as well. They had tiny hit-boxes and jumped all over the place, and yes, they were very bloody annoying.
When you got to the end of the level, a few things would happen. First of all Bubbles the chimp would jump onto MJ’s back and direct him to the boss fight location, then Joe Pesci would jump in from off-screen and taunt you before running off and leaving you to battle his minions (Good Lord, they don’t make games like they used to…). In this case, you are confronted by a single, white dog, that looks kinda like it could be a poodle. Huh.
Oh right, then he summons EVERY DOG WHO EVER LIVED with the sole goal of making a meal out of Mikey. To make things worse, the dog actually dances while his buddies are treating Michael like a large bag of kibble. He gets on his hind legs and dances. Holy shit, as if you needed any more incentive to want to take this bastard down. This is Michael Jackson, nobody bests The King of Pop in a dancing contest. Nobody.
Now, I need to point out that Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker had the single best full screen attack ever created. When you held down the Spin button (yes there was a button dedicated to making Michael Jackson spin on the spot; After the Bruce Campbell one-liner button in Evil Dead: A fistful of Boomstick, this is clearly the greatest use for a button in video games). If you held it down long enough, Michael Jackson would throw his Fedora at enemies which would inexplicably cause them to explode. Not just die, but violently burst into flames in a glorious display of pyrotechnics. If you held it down even longer, Michael Jackson would pose and every enemy on the screen who was previously trying to kill you would be compelled to take up positions and start dancing. Michael Jackson would start busting a move and his enemies were powerless to resist, after a futile attempt at keeping up his pace, MJ would let out a signature ‘Woo!’ and the enemies would collapse.
The very first thing I did when fighting these dogs was test out this move to see if it would work, needless to say, it does. Yes, it seems that neither man nor beast can resist the musical styling’s of Michael Jackson, and each and every mongrel would jump on their hind-legs and start jamming to ‘Beat it’, then be sent flying off screen as Michael Jackson proved too much for them. Of course, you can just punch and kick the dogs into submission too, but why would you want to do that when you can literally dance them to death?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go keep playing so I can dance some zombies back into their grave to the tune of ‘Another part of me’ (no, I have no idea why it’s not ‘Thriller’ either…)