So you think you can sing and dance like the King of Pop? An upcoming video game will test fans’ abilities to emulate Michael Jackson’s famous dance moves and nail his classic vocals on some of his biggest hits, Ubisoft announced yesterday prior to the 2010 E3 video game conference. The still-untitled game — it’s reportedly simply called Michael Jackson: The Game — is due out by the holiday season, reports Kotaku, who posted two stills. “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” (which will feature the lighted floor tiles made famous in its music video), are among the confirmed tracks. According to a Ubisoft spokesperson, the game will put players in Michael’s shoes for some of his most iconic performances. While it remains unclear whether Jackson will appear as a playable avatar, the game does arrive with the blessing of the Michael Jackson estate, who in their massive new contract with Sony granted permission for an MJ video game.
“Michael always pushed every limit when it came to technology to give his fans unforgettable entertainment experiences, whether it involved his videos, his recordings or his concerts. Now, with this interactive product, we have the chance to bring Michael, the artist, into households around the world in a perfect match of Michael’s artistry and the family entertainment which he always highly valued,” Jackson estate co-executor John Branca said in a statement. “This game is a natural extension of what he would be doing today to raise his artistry to even greater heights for his fans of all generations. It is a game that the entire family can experience and enjoy together and this is something that would please Michael tremendously.”
Singing along with video games is nothing new, but how will the Jackson video game and its respective consoles measure how well the gamer is dancing compared to the King of Pop? The answer comes in another series of announcements that will be unveiled at the E3 conference. Microsoft, makers of the Xbox 360, have already announced plans to release their Kinect technology, which uses cameras to read a gamer’s body movements and translate them onto the TV screen, all without the use of a controller or remote. Microsoft also revealed a new game called Dance Central that will make use of the Kinect technology,
Now that Dancing With the Stars is outpacing American Idol in ratings and sales of both the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series have been slipping, it appears as though the dancing craze coupled with new developments in motion technology could be the next big thing for music video games.
This isn’t the first time Jackson has been the centerpiece of his own video game: In 1989, Jackson starred in an arcade game and later a Sega Genesis cartridge based on his film Moonwalker.
As Rolling Stone previously reported, the Jackson estate’s $250 million deal with Sony also called for reissues of Jackson’s classic albums, greatest-hits collections, a potential Cirque du Soleil show, a DVD of music videos and, most notably, the opportunity to release albums featuring previously unreleased music by Michael, who reportedly left several albums’ worth of unheard material on hard drives when he died on June 25th, 2009.