Posted on July 4th, 2009 in Arcade, Flashback, GEN, Kenzan, Video Games by Sasha Kenzan

A pop star fuses with a chimpanzee to become a giant robot to save the children.  Or gets hit with a shooting star.  Whichever makes you sleep better at night… although personally, I haven’t been able to since finishing this game.

System: Sega Genesis, Arcade
Year: 1989
Company: Sega
Genre: Pop-star isometric/sidescrolling beat-’em-up with a side of soul

How do you fend off a pack of rabid alien dogs?  Make them do the Thriller dance as you jump for joy, of course.

I really don’t know how to describe this game.

Much like the movie, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker is completely bizarre.  There are two versions of the game, one for the Sega Genesis, and one for the arcade.  They both have pretty much the same plotline; Michael, dressed as his character from the Smooth Criminal video, must rescue kidnapped children from Mr. Big.  The arcade version features many children, whereas the Genesis version features nothing more than clones of the same child.  Michael is equipped with magic that emits from his fists and feet, and has a special screen-clearing move that, in the Genesis version, wipes out half of your health meter.

The game is, shall we say, frustratingly difficult.  The game was meant to be a quarter muncher in the arcade, and it’s quite clear that, unless you are cheating in some way, you won’t beat the game on a single quarter.  However, just as you are about to face the final boss, you meet up with your pal Bubbles, who proceeds to fuse with you and form a giant robot.  The Genesis version has Bubbles flying in via a light stream and guiding you to the level boss instead.

This game is one giant acid trip.

The Genesis version makes even less sense, allowing you to turn into the giant robot after being hit by a shooting star.  The Genesis version is also more difficult, making you search for the kidnapped children instead of them simply being in plain sight for you to save, thus making the sidescrolling game a puzzle game as well.  The arcade version has an isometric view, which was very popular around the timeframe the game was made.  The Genesis version also features no level bosses, instead flooding the stage with common enemies that get more difficult to clear off (the zombies in level 3, and yes there are ZOMBIES in this game, take at least three hits to clear off).  But instead of simply finishing the game after the fifth level is cleared, as in the arcade game, instead you are taken to a sixth level.  Which is a flight sim level.  Of course.

I don’t know about you, but when I play a video game based off a pop star using his magic feet to save cloned children from a guy you never fight in a sidescroller, I definitely expect there to be a flight sim for the final level.  Flight sims on consoles up to this point were basically, well, Top Gun.  And that game was terrible.

Is this game bad?  Is it good?  I have no idea.  Every time I play this game, I feel totally confused, so I don’t know how to rate it.  It’s definitely an experience, to say the least.  The arcade version is worlds better than the Genesis version, though.

And I’m still bitter that Thriller isn’t in the graveyard levels.

What are people saying about "Michael Jackson's Moonwalker"?

Brick Prior
Re: Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Funny story that I just remembered: one time on a cruise ship, I was playing the arcade version of Moonwalker when a Michael Jackson impersonator walked in and took a look at the game room.  Me being 11 or so, I thought it was actually Michael Jackson- yes, the weird, coincidental and ironic stuff started happening to me even then.

The arcade version of this is a lot of fun, though.  Genesis?  Not so much.

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