[Review] Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

REVIEW # 00000000 01000011

Annie, are you ok?

My heart says…

It’s difficult for an old game to go straight into the heart of a person who has never played it in the childhood. Usually all of us are more attached to the games we’ve played during our teen or preteen years and we tend to  dislike of  not consider that much all the others we’ve never seen. But for Moonwalker the thing is a bit different. This is not a game I’ve played when I was a kid. Actually I discovered it last year after having heard about it millions of times so I wanted to try it to see what was all about. After finding a bargain for the Mega Drive version I started to play and I’ve immediately fallen in love with it. Not because is the best platformer ever, nto because it the toughest and neither because is the most longeve. Just because…it’s Moonwalker! We have the King of Pop translated into a video game! Is something that only the heart can explain and that the brain cannot undferstand but this is it. Moonwalker is awesome!

Splash screen

The splash screen actually is not so memorable but is great the way the games starts: black screen, Michael Jackson’s silhouette on the left throwing a coin into the juke-boxe and when the music starts (Smooth Criminal, obviously) everything lights up. Great intro…


The visuals of Moonwalker are quite well-finished. In most of Michael movements it looks like the frames rate has been pushed almost over the limit because the animations are incredibly fluid. Even if the sets in which the story takes place could be a bit ordinary, they’re all well coloured and well made and they’re a pleasure to see.


The game is loosely based (so loosely) on the eponymous 1988 movie and on 1989 arcade game. Here Michael Jackson is busy to save all the children from the evil Mr. Big and this is more or less 99% of the story. The plot bacame surreal after the (in)famous scandal regarding the charge of sexual harassment that overwhelmed the King of Pop during the 90s. But this is it, a game where a “magical” pop idol must save children. Nothing more nothing less. A bit poor, let’s say.


Here Michael has to find and free some children (who are actually the same girl repeated nth times but hidden in different places) in order to complete the level and advance to the next one. So we can say that Moonwalker is a mix of Platform, Action and Beat ’em up but clearly the thing that really turn the game into an epic one is the way Michael Jackson kicks his enemiess asses: dancing! Every kick is one of the moves of his repertoire and most important he can kill people (wasting a lot of energy) performing the coreography of Thriller! I mean can you imagine??? Apart from this quirks (for Jacko’s fans maybe this is enough to love the game) the gameplay is a bit repetitive and the thugs Michale encounters a bit lame. Our Michael has a lifebar and an energy bar (the “Magic” bar); this one particularly is reserved to perform his tricks: anytime you want to kill somebody theatrically (by throwing the fedora or dancing) a bit of Magic is lost and you can regain it finding the kids (…)


Another department which is a bit lacking is the controls one. Maybe is because I’m more used to Nintendo 2 or 4 buttons controller instead of SEGA’s 3 or 6 buttons one, but I’ve some issues to coordinate the movements, the jumps and the attacks. Moreover in some point of the games is not so clear which action Michaee shhoud perform in order to advance in the level. Some other issues caomes from the need of pixel perfect positioning when you have to (for example)  land in the right place to let the final boss come in. Actually is nothing so frustrating but for sure SEGA copuld have done a bit better to move the person who was astonishing on the stage.


What did you expect? the soundtrack features four of the most successful Michael Jackson songs so four of the most successful songs of all time: Smooth Criminal, Thriller, Bad, Beat It…What other game could beat this soundtrack??? Plus, among the sound effects we hear all of Michael Jackson shouts. Definitely deserved a 10/10.


Final Score 74/100

Year: 1990

Developer: SEGA

Publisher: SEGA

Genre: Platform, Beat ’em Up

Game Mode: Single Player, Multiplayer

Original Platform: Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis

From the same developers/publishers:

  • Zaxxon (1982) and sequels
  • Congo Bongo (1983) and sequels
  • Hang On (1985) and sequels
  • Alex Kidd (1986) and sequels
  • Out Run (1986) and sequels
  • Phantasy Star (1987) and sequels
  • After Burner (1987) and sequels
  • Altered Beast (1988) and sequels
  • Herzog (1988) and sequels
  • Golden Axe (1989) and sequels
  • Streets of Rage (1991) and sequels
  • Ecco the Dolphin (1992) and sequels
  • Virtua Fighter (1993) and sequels
  • Shenmue (1999) and sequels

Inspired to:

  • Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (1989) for Arcade

If you liked it you can also try:

  • Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (1990) for Amiga and MS-DOS

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