Video Game / Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker is a 1990 video game (loosely) based on the movie Moonwalker, specifically the "Smooth Criminal" portion, conceived and designed by Michael Jackson, featuring songs by Michael Jackson, starring Michael Jackson, and developed by... uh, Sega. The player character, Michael Jackson, alias Moonwalker, uses his trademark dance moves and magic powers (with occasional aid from Bubbles the Chimp) to rescue the children who have been kidnapped by Diabolical Mastermind Mr. Big. Did we mention that Michael Jackson's in it?

Two versions of this Michael Jackson game were produced: an isometric action game for arcades, and a Shinobi-like Platform Game for the Sega Genesis. (There was also a computer game titled Michael Jackson: Moonwalker, which has little in common with the other versions.) A port was also released for the Master System and Game Gear.

This game by Michael Jackson contains examples of:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: From the Genesis port:
    • The robot form has its spiffy laser and missile attacks, but you can't rescue kids while you're in it. To compensate for this, the children are fully visible in their hiding spots during robot mode, so the player can easily find them after it wears off.
    • Dance Magic specials can clear whole rooms of enemies, but will eat up half of your health bar, making it very impractical to use in level 3 and onwards
  • Banister Slide: Done as an attack animation in the Sega Genesis version.
  • Bar Brawl: The first level of the Genesis version, based on the equivalent scene in the film.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The fourth level of the console version, and the third level of the arcade version.
  • Cast from Hit Points: A bunch of special moves that come with the cost of draining your life bar, including throwing your hat as a boomerang and causing all the bad guys on the screen to get their groove on, after which they all drop dead. They don't drain health in the Arcade Game, only the console versions.
  • Catch-Phrase: Mr. Big's "HAHA! YOU'LL NEVER CATCH ME!"
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: The first player controls Michael Jackson in a white suit, the second controls Michael in a red suit, and the third player (available in the Arcade Game only) controls Michael in a black suit.
  • Dance Battler: Michael Jackson takes out enemies using magic-enhanced dance moves.
  • Difficulty Spike: the later rounds of the graveyard stage and the cave level in the Genesis version raise the difficulty considerably, due to the kids being much harder to find, and the enemies becoming much harder to beat. For example, the final bosses of the graveyard stage can drop bombs on you via detaching body parts, and Mr. Big's henchmen take several hits to kill in the cave level, despite being One Hit Point Wonders back in in the street level.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: In the Genesis version, Bubbles the Chimp appears on MJ's shoulder after all the kids are rescued in a stage, and he's quite helpful, as he helps you to find the boss encounter before running off. In the arcade version, touching Bubbles turns MJ into a heroic Killer Robot.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: If Michael loses too much health in the Genesis version, he won't be able to use his Dance Magic, and will have to use extremely weak hand-to-hand attacks.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game doesn't explain its own rules regarding how you can interact with the environment around Michael. Fire hydrants can be weaponized and emergency stairs can be lowered by the same control method, for instance.
    • You can transform into a robot by rescuing a specific child first in most stages and then catching the shooting star that follows. You have to know which child that is ahead of time by trial and error.
  • Involuntary Dance: Michael's Dance Magic Smart Bomb special, which causes all enemies to dance along with him before disappearing.
  • Isometric Projection: The arcade game.
  • Killer Robot: A heroic example. Michael can turn into a robot if certain criteria is metnote . Michael's attacks will be upgraded, and he can take twice as much damage (in the arcade version; the Genesis port makes him invincible in robot mode)
  • Moonwalk Dance: The earliest example in video games.
  • Rule of Cool: Aside from activating some background objects, the moonwalk in the Genesis version has no real function. It just looks awesome.
  • Shout-Out: The guns used by the helmeted soldiers in the arcade game look almost exactly like Pulse Rifles.
  • Underground Level: The caverns level from the Sega Genesis version.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: In the Genesis version, the last level shifts to a first-person space shooter.
  • Weaponized Headgear: One of Michael's special attacks is throwing his hat at enemies.
    • In the Master System port, the hat throw is nerfed (it now has a short range and only shoots in front of Michael) but becomes a regular attack (with no life cost) that replaces the fist as an upgrade.

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