According to publisher UbiSoft, the King of Pop's shoes aren't for sale in hybrid karaoke and dance simulator Michael Jackson: The Video Game . But you can still borrow them for a moonwalk in time for the holidays.
"You can't replace Michael," says international brand manager Felicia Williams. "However you can know what he knows, including the moves and songs." Featuring chart-topping singles including "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," the title promises high-flying performances that reflect Jackson's extravagant stage shows and music videos. It's presently unclear how music and choreography will be passed on, but she suggests that players will "know what it's like to feel the highlight under your feet" or "savor the tension of a dance battle" as in these tracks' real-world videos.
While no additional songs were revealed, Williams was clear on one point: Jackson's estate wants to feature a soundtrack that provides significant breadth and depth in terms of the iconic artist's catalog. Featured backdrops will also be in keeping with Jackson's spirit, including major world stages that "Michael would be proud of."
Citing significant involvement by Jackson's estate and an emphasis on authenticity, she shrugs off comparisons to earlier interactive efforts, like 1989's Moonwalker arcade and Sega Genesis game. Williams is also quick to distance the title from Jackson's unlikely cameos in 2000's Space Channel 5 and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2. "It all boils down to the full performance… dancing, singing, a combination of setting and interactivity," Williams explains. "You're not just dancing around in front of a webcam. Here you get to do it all."
So why couldn't fans do it prior to the pioneering musician's sudden death from cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009? "We'd been considering making a game for years, but the technology wasn't there," Williams says. "Now, we're ready." New motion-tracking controllers like Sony's PlayStation Move and Microsoft's Kinect, which let players dance by shaking their arms and legs as they would in real life, may be the solution. Coming for PlayStation 3 (with Move controller) and Xbox 360 (with Kinect interface), custom versions are also planned for less technically advanced systems such as the Wii, DS and PSP.
Either way, says Williams, it'll make fans proud – and fall in love with Michael again. "Being able to perform as him is a fantasy you've never been able to realize until now."