Moonwalker Header Image

Now, I have played my fair share of vidya games, which is the whole reason behind the blog.

However, when I think about intros for games there are only 2 that really stick out as memorable: The first is Dynasty Warriors 7, were one of the characters drop kicks a horse in the face. Totally unexpected and made me laugh more then I should of.

remembering it’s only a game and cruelty to animals in any fashion is wrong, because in not a monster

But the other intro that sticks in the mind is from Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker on the Mega Drive.

The intro is stuck in my mind because the first level of this game has you playing as the King of Pop himself, spinning into the level then flicking a quarter into a jukebox to start the music and the level.

I needed to mention that before anything else because OH MY WORD AWESOME INTRO!!

The Game

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker was a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Master System game developed and published by Sega in 1990. It was based on the 1988 film of the same name.

Although not an initial launch title, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker was released not long after the Mega Drive was introduced and what a little gem this game is. Being produced by Roppyaku Tsurumi and Michael Jackson.

yes, the man himself

You play as the cream suit wearing smooth criminal in a variety of stages, each three levels to a stage with the goal of beating Mr Big.

Hang on, I thought he was a lover not a fighter? The King of Pop in a fighting game?

I thought this as well until I first played the game (as a nipper) and realised that this fact was worked around in a quite clever way: Magic.

You see, anyone who had seen the movie that this game was based on would know that magic, in particular shiny dust like particles

magic dust for all accounts

would fly out of Michael’s finger tips, during the first half of the movie. This mechanic was implemented into the game, making Michael able to fight the forces of evil without having to either shoot a weapon or learn a martial art.

Between you and me, I don’t think my childhood brain could have dealt with MJ battering people as a kid.

Until he learned to box in 2000, but that’s a different game entirely. Literally

So the plot of this game was to beat Mr Big, simple enough right? Kinda.

You see Mr Big, being the antagonist in both the movie and game, has a plan to make the whole word addicted to the drugs he’s peddling. However, this isn’t the overall aim of the game (or looking back I don’t think it was mentioned; it’s a kids game after all) he has kidnapped Katie…. Or an army of Katie and her clones.

Jay: it was a little difficult to keep track of all the Katie’s, if I’m honest

There were multiple Katie’s on each level to rescue from different parts of the level.

Kidnapping kids Mr Big, really?

Yeah classic bad guy move. His henchmen have locked away the Katie army of clones in closets, car boots, windows and graves.

that ties in with the third level, no need to panic

Finding Katie is essential for level progression and a boost for the health/magic meter (they’re the same thing in this game).

So how does it actually play then? Tell me you can do dance numbers

Oh hell yes. Michael Jackson without dancing is like 80s wrestling without cheesy story-lines and over the top characters, it just isn’t done.

With his iconic moves and stances which deliver magic dust in order to do combat with Mr. Big’s henchmen, Michael has a dance routine that’s tied to the level music at his disposal. Activated at any time, assuming you have enough magic left for it, Michael can burst into a routine at any given point. Destroying any and all enemies on screen, busting out the routine is not only amazing but a powerful tool in your arsenal in the fight against the bad guys.

Dancing, magic, music! Mention Mecha-Michael already!

Hang on, I’m getting to that.

From what I remember in certain levels (from the third stage onward) if you can catch it, there is a comet/lucky star you can grab which turns Michael Jackson into a mech/Gundam of himself form the movie.

MECHA-MICHAEL!!!! Godzilla ain’t got nothing on this!

Jay; he’s a video of him transforming (source: YouTube user ramonjoe) 

Yeah a mechanised version of the King of Pop. So magic is out the window at this point, for you turn into a machine that fires rocket and lasers to decimate enemies in your path.

Thinking back the lucky star only shows up in difficult levels so it makes sense for it to show up in the second half of the game. So you play as Mike and can become a giant robot, this game has got to be a breeze right?

Difficulty

There is a manual difficulty setting that can be changed in the menu but normally this game is anything but a breeze. Oh, the controllers I nearly destroyed playing this game.

If a game doesn’t have a challenge, it’s a experience. This game is an experience in itself but it’s far from a cake walk

who would walk on cake, what a waste!

Jay: I’ve walked on a cake before

Oh the music… Which tracks do you get? What are the levels then?

Since the game is based on the story part of the movie (which is the second half of the movie; and oh what a movie it was) the only musical number was Smooth Criminal.

So to combat this, 4 stages were put into the game. All of the stages were influenced by tracks on the Bad album (which was released at prior to the game). The levels consisted of Club 1960, a street level, a graveyard and the spider-laden base of Mr Big.

Interestingly, since the music had to be from Bad, the track of choice for the graveyard stage was Another Part Of Me. The conversion, by Hiroshi Kubota and Takayuki Nakamura, from album tracks to what the Mega Drive had for a sound system

Jay: a combination of Yamaha YM2612 and Texas Instruments SN76489 sound chips

were pretty good. Here’s the game’s version of Another Part of Me:

courtesy of YouTube user Professor G

Spiders! You didn’t say anything about spiders!

Yeah their in here but I’ll get to them in a second.

As a kid I always thought the choice of levels was a bit odd. Streets and graveyards? They weren’t in the movie. I double checked, giving me a sneaky reason the watch the movie again.

And how many times have I watched that movie, our copy on VHS (yes, I’m that old) was worn out I believe. Back me up, Jamie.

Jay: I’m pretty sure that we ended up having several copies of it throughout our childhood

Without these levels it would have been a painfully short game. So to compliment Smooth Criminal, both Beat It and Another Part of Me were selected for level music.

Bad was selected for the final stage, a fantastic choice on account of feeling pretty bad ass after beating the dreaded graveyard stage. The last stage was laden with spiders, as it was the calling card for the bad guy from the movie: Mr Big.

Why couldn’t it have been angry unicorns rather than spiders? Good grief!

But wait, there’s more

After you beat the final stage, Mr Big mocking you at every boss battle, you’re treated to a first person spaceship battle.

A what?!

You heard me right: a spaceship battle.

Based on the ending of the movie: Michael turns into a space ship and blasts Mr Big’s giant laser weapon, (a spaceship in the game) which he has aimed at Katie and her friends. Although an odd ending battle I think it fits in with the game.

Not saying it’s easy by a long shot but as final bosses go, I can think of much much worse.

So overall worth a giggle? Should it be tried after all these years?

You want an unbiased answer? Okay I’ll try.

Moonwalker is a unique, quirky little title that will get your toes taping and maybe throwing some shapes during the dance numbers. Definitely worth anyone’s time if you want to experience some of the better Mega Drive titles.

My biased answer: Play this game; play it now. It’s all kinds of awesome!!

Thanks for joining me on this very fun-filled trip down memory lane. Did you ever play Moonwalker? Did you struggle on the graveyard like I did? What did you think of the spaceship battle? Do you think you will give this game a go if you’ve never played it?

Let me know in the comments and, as always, I’ll catch you guys later.

Who am I you ask? I'm one half of the Taylor boys, Marks the name and Djstump's the handle. Am I an actual Dj? Nope but back on topic. I play video games and solve problems... I currently have orange hair, spend most of my free time playing Resident Evil games over multiple platforms and like to listen to the odd Discworld audio book from time to time.