It’s been a sad week for the entertainment industry, and indeed the whole world, with the sad passing of Michael Jackson. Paying tribute to MJ, thousands of fans purchased his albums and singles, with most of them re-entering the charts – his Number Ones album has topped the Offical UK Album Chart. Ashamedly, I don’t own any of his albums – I was never really into music in the eighties – but even I can recognise the sheer talent that Michael Jackson had as a singer and a dancer. He truly was an all round performer of the like we will never see again. To pay tribute in some little way, I fired up Moonwalker on the Sega Mega Drive and had a great nostalgic multimedia trip down memory lane.

 The evil gangster, Mr Big, has kidnapped a group of kids and plans to make dope fiends out of them. Naturally, Michael is a bit miffed, dons his Smooth Criminal designer gear, and sets of in his journey through five levels of Mr Big’s domain in an effort to rescue the kids and bring Mr Big to justice. On his way through the platform scenarios, Michael will need to defend himself against Mr Big’s henchmen, women, and dogs. 

 Thankfully, Michael has an array of moves to use against the enemy. Besides the standard punch, kick, crouch, and jump moves, he has a particularly neat line in magic that can be used to dispose of any enemy. One press of the ‘Attack’ button sees Michael kick some magic at the helpless adversary. For most of the bad guys, one dose is enough.

The kids are often hidden within the five levels (which have three rounds each), so Michael will need to search behind doors, windows, car boots, bushes, and other scenery to rescue the kids. When all the kids on the level have been rescued, Mr Big appears and sends a group of his henchmen to try and dispatch Michael.

If the screen is full of nasties, then this is a good time to use Michael’s special powers: he has a ‘smart bomb’-type way to send them all packing. We all know that Michael Jackson could move like no one else, and in this game, his dancing has a remarkable effect on everything on screen. Holding down the ‘Magic’ button will charge up his special move, resulting in him dancing to the soundtrack, making the enemies join in and they will, literally, fall down afterwards. With a short press of ‘Magic’, he can also dispatch his hat across the screen, taking out anyone who gets in the way. Strategic use needs to be considered for these special powers as they take up energy, which is indicated by a blue bar at the bottom of the screen.

 Admittedly, there isn’t much variety in the action, but the Jackson ‘Oooh!’ sound effects, the soundtrack (nice renditions of five tracks for each level: “Smooth Criminal”, “Beat It”, “Another Part of Me”, “Billie Jean”, and “Bad”) and the dance sequences do set it off very nicely. Also, it is a great sight to see zombies getting in line with MJ to groove to the beat. One minor niggle, though, is that “Thriller” couldn’t appear as the soundtrack on the appropriately zombie-infested level three – at least on later versions anyway, as I hear rumours that it is in the Japanese version….

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