Michael Jackson’s role as a musical pioneer is being examined at all levels today at the news of his passing. But what you may not know is Jackson was somewhat of a pioneer in the video game industry as well.
Moonwalker is a game where Michael Jackson uses magical dance movies to rescue young children from a mobster. It was released in 1990 and based on the movie of the same name. The game was co-developed by Jackson himself, which has to be among the earliest examples of a world-class star collaborating with developers on a video game. Jackson even went on to work with Sega again on the music/rythym game Space Channel 5
Jackson doesn’t walk across the screen in this beat-em-up, he dances and glides. His attacks are taken from his dance repertoire. When he does a dance kick, magical energy comes out of his foot, knocking down whoever is in the way. His special attack captivates his enemies with his moves and causes them to join Jackson in a choreographed dance number. Of course they can’t keep up with the Smooth Criminal, and dance to their deaths.
Micheal’s pet chimp, Bubbles, is even in the game as a powerup that transforms Jackson into a laser-toting robot.
Wow! Now that’s a game.
And as of this writing, copies of the game are being auctioned on Ebay and Amazon for up to $300. The actual arcade cabinet is also listed on Ebay for $1,500.