Thursday, 8 May 2014

Moonwalker

Yep, THAT Michael Jackson


I have to thank my cousin for reminding me of this little gem. But Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, is probably one of the most offensive and horrific games of all time... in hindsight. It's a game that was released in 1990, developed by Sega after the release of the original Mish-Mash film, Moonwalker (which was basically several long music videos thrown together and then MJ fights Joe Pesci by turning into a car, a robot and a spaceship before leaving and coming back for a gig... I wish I was making this up but it sounds more impressive than it really is), the unfortunate side-effect of MJ's life is that in this game, you save kids by touching them...

I'll try to keep away from joking about this, but I make no promises.

Start of almost every level has this comic book approach to the level.

Dancing McPaedo (Never convicted but often insinuated, not quite the best tagline for someone, would much rather have Outnumbered but never Outgunned, but oh well..), is the only "person" for want of a better word, that can save multiple kids that were spotted hanging out with MJ when they saw Joe Pesci doing a drug deal. Joe now wants MJ dead so he kidnaps the kids (MJ's obvious weakness) and forces MJ to rescue them while trying to have him killed.

Smoking, Drugs, Drink... they all kill, but few will name Dancing as a dangerous weapon.

Cue 5 levels of isometric perspective maps, moon walking power moves, dances and turning into a robot when collecting Bubbles the Chimp... We're really trying to shoehorn a lot of MJ's life into a game here. I'm just sorry there's no plastic surgery powerups but then the game would look entirely different. I'm also surprised that arcade cabinets didn't have extra hands under the machine to try and fondle the players, but hindsight is 20-20 after all.

Onto the game, you know, the whole actual point of this article.

The threat level bounces around within the game, some areas are nice and quiet, this isn't one of those areas.

You control Dancing McPaedo (I'll try to stop now) as he moves around the levels and rescues children. Each level looks like it's been fairly closely, but not overly accurately, recreated from scenes in the film. You've Mr Big's base, (Pesci's character name, original isn't it...), a street and bar, another dark street, a graveyard with zombies (to force us to hear Thriller as the music for the game), then the last level which is the first level but backwards followed by an elevator set then the last boss. Most of time you'll get to fight and "kill" Joe Pesci in the same way we fight and kill Robotnik in Sonic The Hedgehog games and that he flies off when defeated to "get you next time, McPaedo!"... Or something along those words, the speech isn't entirely clear at this point.

As far as final bosses go... this is shit.

You move around the level in the standard 8 compass directions, which translate exactly in the game as those directions. This isn't one of those games where pressing up moves you diagonally up into the "background" of the perspective. This does make the game a little easier to avoid enemies as they tend to move on the 4 diagonals provided by the isometric view. It does become awkward when trying to navigate through narrow points unfortunately or when you're up against larger enemies that can tank the damage you dish out.

You too can dance along, and look like as much of a prick as he does.

Your primary method of fighting is a charge/release attack. Hold the button and MJ starts to moonwalk while moving, holding his hand up while charging his laser and then when released, fires in the direction he's moving (not facing, as he's backwards while moon walking... go figure). This charge also determines the size and power of the shot, so a long shot goes across the distance of the room/screen and does huge damage, while tapping the button will fire a short blast that goes less distance than an asthmatic wheezing out a death-rattle.

Joe Pesci chokes a fat kid, and MJ looks like he's being sucked off...

Thankfully, there's some help in this game in the form of Bubbles the Chimp who can be collected and then turns MJ into Robo-Paedo, where he becomes a hulking great moon walking robot that fires lasers and missiles, doesn't require large charge up times for the power move and has a greatly increased range of attack. Though this usually turns up before or around the boss areas. On top of this you've your dance attack, which is your special "Let's slap everything in the face with MJs dick" move, forcing all characters and enemies on screen to dance for a moment before being killed or heavily damaged. You get one per life and can find more in the kids pockets when you rescue them.

Robo Wacko Jacko... Sadly, MJ was the conceptual designer for this game.

More disturbingly, are some of the enemies. If you've played the game then you'll know what I mean when I talking about the 2-legged robo-cock machines. It's like one of those two legged walkers from Star Wars with an extendable strap-on that can be used to punched MJ. Perhaps someone in the design team had a glimpse into the future and saw what was going to happen, wrote this enemy and thought "That's one MJ takes instead!" But given the later years of MJ's life, it's probably even more disturbing with the hindsight.

The aptly named "Location not appearing in the film" level.

You'd think though, that the music in the game would be sublime. MJ, who at the time, was the BIGGEST name in pop-music around the planet, riding the thrill of having the biggest albums and breaking more records than almost anyone else ever, would have had decent renditions of his music in the game. We can get people speaking badly, but the musical over tones are the worst level of hell of Dante's vision for this kind of elevator musak. Bad is barely recognisable, Billy Jean is butchered (and not my lover), Thriller is vaguely recognisable and none of it really represents the music for what it was at the time. Fairly decent (until MJ opened his gob...).

"Now for today's caption contest, just send in your own quote for this picture to..."

Interestingly, the arcade game was for 1-3 players, with each rendition of MJ being in a different coloured suit, though player 3 had the added bonus of being in a black suit, with a red arm band... They got to be the Gestapo version of MJ, adding in holocaust bonuses along with playing as Dancing McPaedo. 2 fuckups for the price of 1.

It's the power of DANCE!

It's a short game, even for 1990 and won't take too many credits to get through, between 1-4 for a seasoned player of arcade games and less for someone who's played it before. But it's worth playing, just to see how MJ liked to see himself as the saviour of kids while the rest of the world recognised him as being a filthy little pae- [Obscured on legal advice] -p his own rectum.

Like Joe Pesci, this is pretty much my reaction to this entire game.