Michael Jackson: The Experience is coming to Xbox 360 on April 12 with full support for the motion-sensing Kinect camera. Previously released versions for the Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable offered their own twists on representing the King of Pop, but the Kinect edition does what none of the others can: track your full range of body motion while projecting an image of your dancing self – an actual video of you, rather than some cartoony avatar – onto the screen. The end result? You get to star in your very own MJ music video.
Your in-game projection, outlined in glowing highlights reminiscent of TRON, is always flanked by two or more dancers. Sometimes they’re mirror images of Michael himself and sometimes they’re characters from the original music video, as in the case of “Black or White.” Players are expected to dance along, using both the AI dancers and a scrolling series of reference cards, indicating body position, as guides.
Certain songs also offer a singing element – some, such as “Heal the World,” are karaoke-only – using either the Kinect’s built-in mic or an attached mic/headset of your choice. During each song’s singing segments, the dancing stops and clips from the original music video pop up on screens in the background.
The HD backgrounds are unique to each song and rely heavily to the associated music video. “Bad” features a cavernous, white-tiled subway station (complete with a sign for the B/A/D trains behind your dancing self). “Billie Jean” offers a re-creation of the video’s iconic Ronald’s Drugs street corner, complete with a pair of fedora-wearing backup dancers. MJ geeks will have a ball picking out the many smaller details. There are 30+ songs, more than were featured on previous releases, including “Blood on the Dance Floor” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
All of these features deliver a chaotic good time as players flail about trying to match the pop star’s signature dance moves. A PlayStation 3 version with Move motion controller support is coming, but the Xbox 360 edition is especially appealing because of the Kinect’s unique features. This is a party game, top to bottom.