Xbox 360 Review: Michael Jackson: The Experience

The king of pop comes to Kinect, but is he bad?

When I first saw Ubisoft tease a Michael Jackson game at their E3 press conference last year, I was in two minds about it. I thought it’d be great for fans to attempt a moonwalk or his other trademark moves, but then I wondered if it was just another attempt to cash in on him after his untimely death. I think after playing Michael Jackson: The Experience on Kinect, I can say that it’s probably a bit of both.

You can dance and sing to all the classics such as Billie Jean, Thriller, Earth Song, Smooth Criminal and of course, Bad. The game works similar to Dance Central, you’ll get cards on the right side of the screen showing you what moves to do, except it even counts down to get the timing right. The problem with this is that the dance cards are very small and poorly designed compared to those of Dance Central, making it quite difficult to work out what moves to actually do.

The game can also only support one player at a time, so when it comes to co-op/versus dances you’ll have to switch around and hope to get on screen in time to perform the next move. It’s not the best setup considering that other versions can manage at least 2 players dancing at the same time. Is it a flaw with Kinect or a flaw with how the game is designed? Perhaps a bit of both I would imagine…

Achievement hunters won’t be happy with the list as 95% of them require you to get 5 star ratings on every song, while a few are do-able there is one that no-one will be able to get until Jacko’s birthday on August 29th. I will admit, I’m not exactly a fan of Jacko, but I can still appreciate how much he was loved and this game is a testament to that. It’s not the best dancing game out there, but at least Ubisoft didn’t decide to put up a Jacko statue outside their offices…

Kinect does seem to have trouble registering each move and it seems to be pure luck/random if you get it right. There were times I know I messed up moves and still got great ratings for them, which was rather odd considering I cannot dance to save my life. So I had to recruit others to test the game alongside me and the results were very mixed. The menus aren’t the easiest to navigate either, which can become frustrating at times.

The Verdict

Jacko fans will love Michael Jackson: The Experience for Kinect, but will be disappointed that they can only dance one at a time, that the dance cards are poorly designed and Kinect has issues detecting every move. If you can overlook all that, then this is good fun to be had with friends and family, although I imagine that other versions are better and more enjoyable.