you bought Michael Jackson: The Experience and probably realized, all too
quickly, that it’s really hard to mimic the King of Pop’s moves. Really, really
hard. Maybe you got the zombie part from Thriller down to a science, and maybe
you’re kicking with the correct leg, but a whole MJ routine? Well, some things
are better left to professionals.
Jackson: The Experience HD on the PlayStation Vita removes any chance of public
embarrassment via pelvic thrust, and gives fans an Elite Beat Agents-style game
that exclusively uses the touch screen. We’d be eternally thankful for the
experience except for the fact that there are only fifteen songs included. Fifteen. And three of
those (“Hollywood Tonight”, “Ghosts” and “Speed Demon”) aren’t even
chart-toppers. Hell, we didn’t even know two of those songs existed until we
played the game.
earlier, gameplay is similar to Elite Beat Agents where you tap and swipe, as
indicated by dots and arrows that appear during each song, and scoring is based
on how closely to the beat each move is performed. Freestyle sections, where
you’re allowed to swipe and tap to your sequined heart’s content, also allow
you to get bonus points.
is ranked by letter grade upon completion, and racking up points unlocks higher
difficulty levels, trophies and song-specific bonuses like alternate outfits and
back-up dancers. Challenges, like successfully completing a freestyle without
repeating a move, are unique to each song and add another level of interest. The
easiest levels are simple enough that your mother will be able to boast that she mastered
the routine for “Beat It,” while harder levels will necessitate putting your
Vita down to utilize both hands.
Experience looked like a slightly modified version of the Just Dance series,
where a fuzzy version of Michael Jackson danced next to a fuzzy version of
yourself on a forgettable stage backdrop.
Ubisoft took the art direction used with The Black Eyed Peas Experience and
reproduced fifteen environments with coordinating outfits mimicking MJ’s music
videos. If you can ignore the creepy expressionless faces, it’s actually quite
amusing to see these famous videos recreated scene for scene.
get back to those fifteen songs. Considering that the original Experience had
over thirty tracks, it’s disappointing that the visually superior HD version
has less than half that (with no mention of DLC yet), so even with the challenging
and enjoyable gameplay, we quickly experienced song fatigue. (For the record,
we teared up when the King of Pop passed and will readily admit that we put his
discography on repeat for at least a week afterwards, so being tired of any MJ
song is no small feat.)
is visually the best looking Michael Jackson game ever, we find it difficult to
recommend this title to anyone but the most rabid of fans, unless there’s a promise
to deliver DLC in the future. Fifteen tracks does not a King make.