Michael Jackson: The Experience Xbox 360 Review

Well, he may be gone but his spirit lives on in not only his music, but in his games as well. You may love him or hate him depending on what you believe and what you know about Michael Jackson, but you cannot deny the greatness of his dance moves and the power of his live performances. Michael Jackson is labeled The King of Pop and for good reason. Now’s your chance to try and move like him, or at least see just how difficult it is in Michael Jackson: The Experience for Xbox 360.

MJ: The Experience Screenshot

Who's bad?

By now, two things are obvious: one is that Kinect is almost tailored for dance games (or vice versa depending on how you look at it) and the second bit of obviousness is that Ubisoft loves making dance games. This latest dance title (developed by Ubisoft Montreal), MJ: The Experience, is just as good if not better at using the newest motion technology on the block, Kinect. However, be warned that MJ: The Experience is not as easy to master and requires much practice. No, I don’t mean the same kind of practice where you could just keep dancing through the same song in Dance Central until you were coming close. MJ’s routines, ironically, aren’t routine. So, you will need to hit up the Michael Jackson School and practice modes often. You’ll learn that not only are MJ’s well-known dance moves hard (like the moon walk or Thriller lean), but all of the in between, bridging moves are as well.

The game has a few different areas for gamers/dancers to check out. There’s the single-player mode, party mode where your friends can play as the backup dancers and MJ’s Dance School. The dance school is actually made up of videos created by actual professional dancers who danced with Mike. They’ll actually explain to you how to do each and every move while you watch your onscreen digitized self do the moves. The party mode can be really fun if you have people who are willing to look silly with you while single player mode is obviously for one player. This mode, though, actually allows the choice of practicing, dancing only, singing only and both dancing and singing. It should be noted, however, that Ubisoft seemed to not completely finish the Kinect version as most songs only allow for singing with a minimal of dancing. The more well known songs allow for full out performances, but these make up only about twenty percent of the 32 total songs. This seems like a possible form of laziness considering that the PS3 and Wii versions allow for full dancing in all songs.

The dancing that can be done, however, is extremely hard and unlike Dance Central, gamers and dancers will not be able to just simply jump in and expect good results. This is of coarse unless you already know Michael’s moves. This is in no way a fault to the game or for MJ and his moves, but it would have been nice for Ubisoft to give a few more options that allow for either slower dancing or easier difficulties to start off with. Although it’s obvious that you should practice, most gamers won’t want to do this all day. They want results and if they wanted to learn to dance, they’d probably go do it at a studio. Giving a little more incentive for players to dance is always welcome. The gameplay mechanics that are given do add to the experience, though. There are effects that can be triggered when big moves and long routines are achieved much like any other music or dance game, and you’ll be graded on each and every move from bad to perfect, too.

MJ: The Experience Screenshot

I'm bad!

The game also allows for singing, as previously mentioned, and the game does a decent job of grading this. First off, there is a choice between using Kinect’s built-in microphone, or using any Xbox 360 compatible microphone. I definitely suggest using a stand alone mic, especially if your Kinect is sitting close to a speaker or if your speakers are loud enough to effect Kinect. As I was playing, I was getting perfect scores singing because Kinect was picking up my speakers’ sound. Turning down the sound showed that, while better, Kinect just doesn’t pick up your voice as good as a standalone mic. After switching to a standalone mic, however, it was nice to see that the game pics up your voice and tone almost flawlessly. This still doesn’t make up for the lack of dancing, however.

The other small flaw in the game comes at the form of the menus. It can be a real pain using your arms to control these menus. It seems everything Ubisoft learned from Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and even Dance Central was thrown out the window. Granted, Dance Central’s menus weren’t too fun to use either, MJ’s makes those look like joy rides. The biggest menu pain is when there are a lot of choices to scroll through like selecting a song. The song selection is just one huge Wheel of Fortune wheel and is so sensitive that trying to get it to stop on a specific song can actually be as tiring as dancing at times.

Besides the issue with the menus and the big problem with the lack of dancing, MJ: The Experience could be a fun party game, or it can be fun to see yourself in the place of The King of Pop in some of his videos. Other than that, it would almost be a better recommendation to buy it on another console, which is a shame due to the potential this game had to be the best version and the technology it was built around. Ubisoft would have done better by allowing more development time. Maybe it’s the missed potential from this game, but the other two versions would get at least an 8 out of 10 from me.

GGC Score: 7 out of 10Click to buy Michael Jackson The Experience for Xbox 360 from Amazon.com

2 Responses to “Michael Jackson: The Experience Xbox 360 Review”

  1. Hi. I just wanted to note that Dance Central was not developed nor published by Ubisoft. Are you sure you didn’t confuse it with Just Dance? 😛

    And Just Dance is a Wii exclusive.

    • You, my friend, are applauded for saying so nicely. This is what happens when you write a review on only 4 hours of sleep. lol I actually meant Dance Central for most of the article, but had a moment where I thought of Just Dance and kept writing about Dance Central. My apologies and it has been mended.

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