Despite what anyone thinks, I have always been a huge fan of Michael Jackson.  Aside from the controversy that dominated the latter part of his life, there is no denying that he is one of the greatest performers in the history of music.  After his death on June 25, 2009, his supposed wrongdoings were for the most part forgotten about or pushed to the side in peoples’ minds in favor of his legendary status in the music industry.  On October 28, 2009, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a movie documenting Jackson’s preparations for his final tour, was released and went on to become the highest grossing concert movie and documentary in the history of cinema.  Then, on April 12, 2011, Michael Jackson: The Experience was released in North America for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.  The game focuses on Jackson’s strongest point, his music, but is it worthy of the King of Pop and is it a very fun game in and of itself?


For a game that didn’t have to have good graphics, Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Xbox 360 has fairly decent visuals.  The song selection menu is very crisp.  The stages are nicely designed and I loved how clean it all looked as opposed to Kinect Adventures, which made me nearly go blind in parts.  In contrast, the dancers demonstrating the moves and the actual player’s silhouette are quite ugly.  My overweight body looked completely ridiculous onstage as the game had a habit of cutting off my hands and feet on a constant basis even when I was standing at the “correct” distance from my Kinect.  The crowd is nothing impressive either.


The game revolves around Jackson’s music.  That’s what anybody who plays the game is going to hear, along with their vocals on certain songs.  Most of Jackson’s greatest hits are in the game except for, for some reason, "Man in the Mirror", which is a complete travesty.  What’s great is that some of his lesser-known songs are also included ("Stranger in Moscow", anyone?).  Aside from the music, the crowd reactions were cool when I was nailing certain moves (that was a rarity but I DID do the "Smooth Criminal" lean perfectly on the first try, earning me an Achievement).  The clicking noise when I was picking songs got really annoying after a while, just like it did in Dance Central.


The gameplay is where Michael Jackson: The Experience has its moments, and where it utterly fails.  Performing the moves that made Jackson famous is a blast but they are also extremely difficult to pull off.  There is only one difficulty level in the game and that is SUPER HARD.  Getting five stars on any of the songs in the game is next to impossible without practicing them many, many times, which few people will have the patience for.  I certainly didn’t and I didn’t get five stars on any of the songs.  I think the highest I got was three stars on “Beat It”.


Singing along to the songs was a blast until I decided to put it to the test.  I sang “Da da da da” in place of the words of “Beat It” and the game still decided that I was giving a “Perfect” performance.  I thought it was pretty hilarious.  That aspect of the game is completely broken.  Another thing in Michael Jackson: The Experience that does not work at all is some of the dance moves.  I have witnesses that can testify that on some songs I nailed the moves and the game did not detect them and on some songs I stood completely still and the game still registered that I did a move perfectly.  I strongly believe that some corner-cutting went on in the making of this game.


Overall, Michael Jackson: The Experience is not worthy of Jackson’s greatness.  I liked it as a game but only by a little bit.  It needed more work before it was released.  Just because a new peripheral is released for a console does not mean that a game should be rushed in order for the developers to reap the benefits.  I’m not claiming that that is what happened, but that’s what it seems like.  This is a dancing game, and the dancing part of it barely functions.  I still like it, but with Michael Jackson’s name on it, I should have loved it.