GamesRadar remembers Michael Jackson

By now, you've probably heard the news of Michael Jackson's untimely passing. No, we’re not here to cynically exploit the immediacy of a vacated Pop throne... We genuinely think the only thing more tragic than the death of Michael Jackson is that many youngsters have had the man's legacy overshadowed by his bizarre appearance and his recent allegations of child molestations and theme park villainy. Damn shame. Especially since the man and gaming share quite a history with one another.


In the 80s, Michael Jackson could do no wrong. After numerous multi-platinum albums, about a billion chart topping singles, and music videos eagerly directed by John Landis and Martin Scorcese, Sega brilliantly parleyed Jackson’s love of games into a deal to create something of a cultural synergy unseen since the days of the Journey arcade game. (Can’t believe we just wrote that!) Not only did MJ’s golden touch add a little legitimacy to the bourgeoning field of videogames, it also turned out to be pretty damned popular.


Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker - 1990
Arcade, Genesis, Game Gear

Based on the music video/feature film Moonwalker, Sega’s arcade-turned-Genesis game is a peculiar blend of platforming, beat-em-up, children hunter, chimp wrangler and dance-off. Dressed in Smooth Criminal garb, the King of Pop traverses themed levels such as “the woods,” “Club 30,” and “enemy hideout” saving kidnapped children and defeating bad guys while MIDI versions of his songs play on endless loops in the background.

Above: So, women in this game are always trying to mess with Michael. They’ll grab him and hold him so other enemies can score cheap shots 

The arcade game plays like an isometric beat-em-up, while the console versions are 2D side-scrollers. You never really beat up the bad guys either. By hitting the Attack button, you punch or kick “magic” sparks at the villains, while shouting “Whoo!” If you have enough magic stored, you can hold down the Special button, which causes all the enemies to break out into a wondrously choreographed dance routine, depleting most of their health.

Above: Another feature is the ability to “save” the children. But whenever you find one, they scream “Michael!” and run away from you as fast as possible

Once you find all the children in a level, Bubbles the chimp (Jackson’s former simian friend) jumps on your shoulders and points the way to the end of the level and a boss fight. And just like the movie (and what we’re assuming is Jackson’s private fantasy), you turn into a gigantic robot once you catch a falling star. Seriously better than other ego-centered games like Shaq Fu or Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.

Sonic 3 - 1994

Did you know there were traces of MJ in your Sonic 3? Here's an exerpt from our Soundtracks you didn't know were stolen feature


Details concerning Michael Jackson’s involvement with the Sonic 3 soundtrack have been trickling out over the web for years now. Hell, documentaries have been made on the subject. It’s all but confirmed that Jackson had in fact been initially contacted to work on music for Sonic 3… but was excused amidst allegations of seducing unnamed members of Sega’s demographic. Is that a conflict of interest?


That’s all fine and dandy, but when Sonic Team claimed his contributions had been removed entirely… well, that’s the kind of stuff that turns a casual internet user into a digital flatfoot. Just listen to what they uncovered by comparing Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow” with Sonic 3’s end credits music:

Michael Jackson - Stranger in Moscow

Sonic 3 - Ending Credits Music

Ignoring the frantic pace of the latter, both share a hauntingly identical underlying base. Many have even pointed out how numerous Jackson trademarks still bleed through the Sonic 3 soundtrack, including similar chord progression even more clearly evidenced when you overlay an accelerated version of MJ’s “Who Is It?” with IceCap Zone 1:

“Who Is It?” w/IceCap Zone - by Qjimbo

Above: Old Friends

Sure you can claim that by speeding up beats you can match nearly anything. But once you take into account Moonwalker, and appearance in Space Channel 5, and the man himself cavorting around with Sonic, it’s pretty clear that Sega desperately wanted to be in the MJ business. So, since key members of Jackson’s production staff are credited, it seems a shame to leave off The King of Pop’s moniker just because he sexed up a couple of children (ALLEGEDLY!)

Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5: Part 2 – 1999 and 2002
Dreamcast, PlayStation 2


Continuing MJ’s love affair with all things Sega, Jackson made cameo appearances in both Space Channel games under the guise of Space Michael. These cult rhythm-based games placed you in the high heels of the hot, space reporter Ulala as she used her dancing (and your memorization skills) to blast aliens to dust aboard a space ship. Where does MJ come in? Well, naturally he’s under attack by the Rhythm Rogues and after Ulala comes to the rescue, he uses his singing skills to defeat a robot. By the sequel he was a fully fledged character.

How the hell did he get involved with Space Channel 5? In a May 2007 EGM interview with series creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, he says "We were in the middle of production of Space Channel 5, in 1998 or 1999. I got a call from the U.S. from my partner - the executive producer of Space Channel 5 - and he said, 'Oh, Michael wants to act in Space Channel 5.' I said, 'Who's Michael?' 'Who is Michael Jackson?' he said, 'The Michael Jackson - the real Michael Jackson'

My partner had shown him the 60-to-70 percent complete version, when it was almost at the end of the game. We had one month to finalize. But Michael wanted to do something, so we suggested that if he was OK with it, we could program the people in the game to do the Michael Jackson dance when taken over by aliens. he said 'yeah.' We initially had five aliens who danced. One of them became Michael Jackson."

Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2 - 2000
Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance


Forget that last pathetic entry in the Ready 2 Rumble series. Back in the days of timed Dreamcast exclusives the series was in peak form, and that rings triple true for the game’s celebrity appearances. Take one look at the Wii’s R2R: Revolution roster of grotesque David Hasselhoff, Simon Cowell caricatures… then go back and look at Ready 2 Rumble” Round 2.


Just slightly outshining Bill and Hillary Clinton is none other than Michael Jackson. Sure, this makes us pine for the day when the R2R meant something, but in all fairness, how do you top that line up?! By our count, it features a President, a Secretary of State, and a playable Grammy award winning King once you beat the game twice.

Other MJ Images we had lying around

Above: An MJ parody appears in Plants vs Zombies

Above: From Moonwalker arcade, fighting an AT-ST apparently...

Above: We combed through The Sims 3 to find the best Michael Jackson doppleganger

Above: A lovely panel displaying the glory that is Sega's Moonwalker

Above: From our All Console Avatar Showdown feature. We've actually made an MJ in just about any game we could, so below you'll some raw, never-before-published images

Above: Made in PS3's Home

Above: Sorry for the woman's body, MJ...

Above: Miichael Jackson

Above: From his uncredited role in one of the best Simpsons episodes ever

Above: No idea... but the man will surely be missed

Other games featuring the music of Michael Jackson
LEGO Rock Band - 2009
Rock Band Unplugged - 2009
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2 - 2008
Guitar Hero World Tour - 2008
Boogie - 2007
Elite Beat Agents - 2006
Grand Theft  Auto: Vice City - 2002

Jun 25, 2009


  • wiigamer024 - July 7, 2009 2:58 p.m.

    i always heard rumors that MJ had worked on the STH3 music w/ SEGA, but I never knew it was the truth. Damn, we'll miss that man...
  • mrevolution09 - July 3, 2009 12:51 a.m.

    I didnt know about the Jackson/Sonic thing. That's crazy cool. btw, loved Ready 2 rumble
  • deathrebellion - June 30, 2009 4:48 p.m.

    RIP MJ i didn't know he had so many games his music was legendary kudos to him
  • Suicide - June 30, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    lol! wow hw must of had a thing for song!
  • Bobwin - June 29, 2009 8:03 p.m.

    When I heard the news, I didn't really know who he was. But when I heard his music... WOW! His dancing skills are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! My fave song Thriller! RIP
  • adertysohck - June 28, 2009 8:03 p.m.

    wait, wheres my Nilly Mays article? Its great you got one on MJ but see if you can get some things on Billy mays. He also just died today.
  • kombatmaster - June 28, 2009 5 p.m.

    even thogh hes dead hes still gonna be made fun of
  • Aquasol - June 28, 2009 3:11 a.m.

    Stranger in Moscow was released AFTER Sonic 3, if I'm not mistaken. By a full year.
  • Patius - June 27, 2009 7:23 a.m.

    It was a sad day.
  • Solstice - June 27, 2009 12:15 a.m.

    Michael was a great man and a good entertainer. He will be missed by many. I loved some of his songs and we all know now he's in a better place. R.I.P., Michael Jackson.
  • Lemming - June 26, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    RIP Michael And you guys missed how his dance moves were used for Night Elf males in WoW.
  • N24K - June 26, 2009 10 p.m.

    R.I.P Michael You were a living legend, we will never forget you!
  • Dexsus - June 26, 2009 8:29 p.m.

    You'll all be sorry for flaming him when he rises from the dead and starts dancing to thriller again, but seriously the man was a legend despite what people say about him. RIP
  • frenzy - June 26, 2009 8:23 p.m.

    he makes some REAL music RIP
  • maedene - June 26, 2009 7:38 p.m.

    God save the king.... of pop
  • killemall - June 26, 2009 7:10 p.m.

    Oh Michael, i'm so sorry that you became what you did, but i will do my best to remember you at your best... ReCaptcha: naming Congress
  • TheCommunist - June 26, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    I live in plymouth IN, thats bout 2 hours away from Gary, and 10 shitloads of people are heading to his old house. I learned most of me moves from him...R.I.P. MJ
  • mishmoigon - June 26, 2009 3:12 p.m.

    Anyone who is gonna flame MJ doesn't deserve to live. R.I.P
  • jackthemenace - June 26, 2009 2:59 p.m.

    heh lovin the piccy of him with sonic XD this was quite quick, and i'm glad that he had such an impact on the gaming world, even if virtual children run away from him aswell
  • Xplosive59 - June 26, 2009 2:51 p.m.

    best buissness move he could of ever made... no im actually being serious his reletives will receive all his fortunes and record sales will go through the roof my mate bought tickets for his 50 day concert and lets just say he was not happy that hehad spent £600 on nothin no refund either

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