The Average Gamer

Dance-On Preview – Michael Jackson: The Experience (Wii)

Michael Jackson: The Experience is everything you could expect from the creators of Just Dance; it’s fun, it has an awesome soundtrack and the potential for injury is off the charts. Twitter followers will know that I’m on a huge dance games theme lately. I have the utmost admiration for people who can play Para Para or Dance Dance Revolution but the level of commitment and skill you need to do well in either franchise is ridiculous. I once bought a soft DDR mat to practice at home and almost broke my damn neck when it slid across the wooden floor. No thank you.

The current crop of dance games is much more my thing – prance about the living room looking like a fool with just enough positive feedback to convince yourself that you’re really dancing. Fancy footwork is largely optional and there’s loads of opportunity to clobber your high-scoring friends in the face “by accident”. I reviewed Just Dance 2 on Tuesday and Michael Jackson: The Experience works very much along the same lines – hold the Wiimote, copy the dancer on the screen. The choreography is technically much more difficult (that Michael could really dance, y’all) yet because his routines are so familiar, I find myself far less frustrated by the obscure pictograms.

Yeah, good luck with that one.

Being a child of the 80s, Michael Jackson’s music is way up there on the list of nostalgia triggers for me – hell, back in 2003 I convinced my then-boyfriend to buy a Playstation 2 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City purely because Billie Jean was in the soundtrack. The track list for The Experience covers more than 25 of MJ’s greatest hits, including all the brilliant songs you would want:

  • Bad
  • Billie Jean
  • Beat It
  • Black or White
  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  • In The Closet
  • Rock With You
  • Smooth Criminal
  • They Don’t Care About Us
  • Thriller

And some you wouldn’t – like Earth Song. Yes, seriously. Lots of overly emotional floor-pounding and tearful pearl-clutching make this routine as melodramatic as a day in the life of Blair Waldorf. It’s hilarious to dance through once (but only once). Strangely enough, the choreography doesn’t include the memorable arse-waggling step from the most famous rendition of Earth Song.

As with Just Dance 2, you can play with up to 4 players and there is a competitive mode for 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 dance battles. The Wii detection is based primarily around the accelerometer, so you can stand pretty much anywhere in room – no need to rearrange the furniture just to have some fun. Most songs offer 2 levels of difficulty that allow you to dance to Michael’s routines or as one of his backing dancers.

As you progress through the dances you’ll also unlock training videos that will teach you how to pull off his signature moves in real life. Yes, I’ve always secretly wanted to dance like Michael and yes, I’ve always been far too lazy to do all that copy-pause-rewind business to actually learn the moves. This game could be the trigger that finally lets you bust out the entire Thriller routine next Halloween.

The Wii, DS and PSP versions of Michael Jackson: The Experience will be out in the UK next Friday, 26th November 2010. also has Move and Kinect versions listed for next February. We’ll post more info on those as we hear it.