Tony Wilkins reviews “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker” on the Sega Master System
The first movie I ever saw at the cinema was “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker” and while it makes about as much sense as modern art masterpiece it was certainly a trip. When I had my Sega Master System at eight years old one of the games advertised on the back of the box was the game of the movie and it was on my wish list for quite a while. Alas it was not to be and I never got to own it then but now I have more resources at my disposal and have finally played it. So what’s the verdict then?
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, movies and tv series rarely made a good impact in their game form on the Master System and NES consoles. This game tries to replicate the feel of a few scenes from the movie such as the Smooth Criminal and Bad music videos but than transgresses into what feels like a horror/action game similar to “Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts” before the last level becomes a flight sim/shooter affair as Michael turns in to the spaceship that we saw at the end of the movie.
There are six rounds within the game each of which consists of three stages and a boss stage (which is actually just a sudden onslaught of the enemies you just faced in the previous stage). Each round leading up to the sixth and final one consists of Michael running around looking for the blonde girl from the movie. There are several of her on each mini level that he has to find hidden behind doors, windows, bushes, graves and a host of other things. Before each round begins you are treated to an animation of Michael turning into Robo-Michael which truth-be-told looks brilliant.
The controls are smooth and responsive with Michael being able to jump and attack depending on his stance at the time. It was very easy to get used to although I did encounter problems trying to get him to go down a flight of stairs every now and again. The bad guys for the first two rounds are relatively easy to dispose of. Where the game becomes really fun however is when Michael utilizes what has to be the best non-explosive weapon ever fielded on a video game; his boomerang hat. Michael throws his hat which kills everything in a short distance before coming back to him and all in a smooth dancelike fashion. The drawbacks of this weapon however is its short range and that Michael is stationary until it comes back. I use terms like kill and weapon loosely as when you hit a bad guy he flies off the screen rather than fall down dead.
The fun of this game quickly turns to frustration however by about round 3.2 where you face zombies in a forest. They are nearly impossible to kill without jumping first and catching them in the air. The problem is that Michael punches when a kick would be more useful and vice-versa. It becomes hugely frustrating as the zombies attack you at will while you struggle to land the blows. The reappearance of the hat largely alleviates this problem but it only shows up in the latter stages of the rounds so you have to contend with them until then. Another irritating segment involved having to search cars for the girl(s) but every so often one of the cars would have a bomb in it turning it in to a kind of Russian Roulette.
All-in-all this was an entertaining game to play and kept me occupied for several hours on a hot Sunday afternoon. It will frustrate you at times but the 8-bit versions of Jackson’s music are enough to keep you entertained alone. I still have the Smooth Criminal tune stuck in my head.
Thanks for reading…