Review by King Atari

Reviewed: 08/04/04

You know what's weird? This game is actually good!

Introduction- Believe it or not, this was the first SMS game I ever saw, back at a friend's house years ago. Prior to that, I had no idea there was a Sega before Genesis. The NES had competition? No kidding! Even then, I thought the idea of a game based on Michael Jackson was bizarre, but now that I've actually played it, the weirdest thing about it is that it's actually a pretty good platformer. The SMS port is actually a bit harder to find than the Genesis version in the US, as it was released in 1990, when the SMS was pretty much dead.

Story (7/10)- You are Michael, back before he was white, and you're fighting against the mysterious Mr. Big. When you're not kicking countless members of Mr. Big's army, you're saving kids. Yes, that's right, MJ goes and searches for little kids from door to door. I think that's all you need to know about the story (mainly because aside from that there's not much of one).

Gameplay (9/10)- Once button jumps, one kicks. That's all you have. If you're in a tough spot, you can start everybody dancing (more on that below) to kill them. You move from door to door (or trunk to trunk, etc., etc.) to find children captured by Mr. Big. Not much more to it than that. The controls are responsive, and the game moves at a good pace.

Graphics (9/10)- It looks surprisingly close to the Genesis version. At first glance, it does appear to look 16-bit, but in a side-by-side comparison, this version doesn't look quite as detailed, obviously. Still very good looking for an 8-bit game. MJ is animated well, he even snaps his fingers when he walks. He doesn't use his "star" power to beat bad guys in this version, he simply punches and kicks. Enemies are animated okay, but not great. At the end of each stage, Mr. Big will come on screen and say "You'll never catch me!" or something to that effect (although MJ has ample time to 'catch' him then), after which you'll be bombarded by enemies. Not as many as the Genesis version, but enough to frustrate you. When you use your dance moves, the screen goes black, and you dance alone. I suppose the SMS couldn't handle multiple sprites dancing to "Smooth Criminal".

Sound (7/10)- Well, the tunes are kind of catchy, I guess. Obviously, given the sound capabilities of the SMS, nothing sounds too great, though the first two stages aren't bad. Sound effects are also average. Nothing special, overall. If you want MJ music that sounds great in a video game, go with the Genesis version.

Replay (5/10)- I didn't find replayability to be all that good. Once you've beaten it, there's not a whole lot to compel you to beat it again. It may be good for a quick play through once in awhile, or even a complete go through again if you haven't played it in a long time, but that's about it.

Final- Too bad this is on the rare side, as it is a definite stand out in any SMS collection. Why? Because it makes a great novelty game. Have some friends over and laugh at the plot and MJ's various dance moves. Laughs aside, it doesn't play bad at all, and moves along pretty fast. If you're an SMS collector, check it out.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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