The milking of Michael

Michael Jackson has been dead for nearly two years yet his name is still being milked like a glove-wearing cow. Who is doing the milking? Ubisoft – sitting on a stool, squeezing teat after teat to get every last drop of cash out of the great man’s legacy. Do I care? Not at all.

Yet it’s interesting Jacko had to moon-walk off this mortal coil for his name to mean anything again. I don’t remember too many publishers scrambling to make an MJ game in the years leading up to his death. Imagine Michael Jackson: The Experience then – you play an ageing, drug-addled former pop star who has to fight his way out of a courthouse using an umbrella and old dance moves. Once you’ve made it back to the hotel, there’s a baby-dangling mini game…

But because he’s now dead, so the argument goes, we can focus on the good part of his life – the music. And that’s exactly what Ubisoft has done with this well-designed, if somewhat bizarre, dance game for the 360 and PS3. It follows in the nimble-shoed footsteps of the Wii version, only using Move and Kinect as the motion controllers on their respective machines.

From here you’re offered a series of increasingly difficult choreographed dance routines, led by an animated version of the departed waif on the screen. Is it any good? Look – you either like dance games or you don’t. If you don’t, you can file this under “tat” alongside Let’s Dance, Dance Central, Just Dance and all the others.

If you are into either the genre or the late Mr Wacko, then it seems to be a decent offering with great music and authentic routines. In the interest of providing a fair review, I gave it a good hour in the front room (only after I’d bolted the curtains closed, swept the room for hidden cameras and put the cat out).

It’s fun and quite demanding. And at the end of the Beat It routine, I even had to stop for a glass of Jesus Juice just to keep me going. There’s not much difference between the PS3 and 360 versions. The Move seems a touch more sensitive, yet Kinect lets you dance away without the  controller so it’s swings and roundabouts (perhaps not the best phrase to use in relation to Mr Jackson).

The Kinect version also captures your entire body image and places it into the actual video. But overall it’s roughly the same game. Alongside the solo mode there’s a four-player multiplayer as well as duets and tracks that require backing dancers. To play this in front of other people you’d need to be on a lethal cocktail of drugs yourself but it’s there if you want it.

You’re probably getting the impression dance games are not for me…and you’d be right. Nor are they for my age. This type of offering is strictly for the kids. Somehow, I think it’s what he would have wanted…

This first appeared in The Daily Star SundayThe original article can be found here.

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