Review: Michael Jackson The Experience for Xbox 360 Kinect

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I received the Michael Jackson The Experience (Xbox 360 Kinect version) video game from Ubisoft for review. As you can guess from the title, the interactive game involves dancing and singing to the tunes of Michael Jackson. Quick summary: the game is fun and entertaining. The dance moves are not easy, but I don’t think they are impossible to perform unless you’re uncoordinated (like me). The backdrops and special effects are stunning, but the coolest effect uses the Kinect sensor to project a glimmery likeness of you onto the screen while you are dancing. Up to four players can play, but only one person can dance or sing at a time.

Michael Jackson The Experience - Thriller song

Michael Jackson The Experience features three modes: MJ Dance School, Solo and Party. In MJ Dance school mode, you’re essentially watching videos that show you how to perform some of Michael Jackson’s dance moves. This mode is interesting, but not a lot of fun (unless you really want do master his moves). Solo and Party modes are essentially the same thing. In both of these modes, you try to earn as many points as you can by singing along and matching the dance moves in the choreography. In Solo mode, you dance and sing by yourself. With Party mode, you can have up to four people singing and dancing. In my opinion, Party mode is a lot more fun.

In Party mode, you have two options: Coop or Battle. In Coop play, up to four people can play. You’re not really competing against anyone in Coop play because everyone is all on the same team. In Battle play, two teams battle each other for the highest score. Each team can have up to two players. Even though you can have up to four players in Party mode, only one person can sing or dance at a time. The system prompts you when it’s your turn to jump in.

With both Solo and Party modes, there are four levels of difficulty: Practice (easiest), Dance, Performance, and Master Performance (hardest). As the name suggest, Practice level is just that, practice. Dance level is just dancing without any singing on your part. Performance level is dancing and singing. And Master Performance level is also dancing and singing, but the moves are harder and the scoring seems tougher than the regular Performance level. Note: you don’t actually get to dance and sing at the same time. Instead, you alternate between dancing and singing.

The goal of both Solo and Party modes is to score points by matching the moves of the background dancers. The game also displays cue cards on the screen to tell you what the move should be and what’s coming up next. The game takes a little getting use to because at first, you don’t know if you should be following the moves of the background dancers or the moves on the cue cards. In my opinion, the dance moves are not easy, but my ten-year old daughter didn’t have a lot of trouble doing them. The moves shouldn’t be too hard for most people. Unfortunately, I’m not like most people. I seem to be missing the dancing gene. I assume that’s why my wife was laughing so hard she almost dropped the toddler.

In my opinion, the coolest feature of Michael Jackson The Experience Kinect game is the ability to project your likeness on the screen while you are dancing. You can actually see yourself dancing on the screen in real-time. The projection isn’t a high resolution imagine, but you can tell it’s you even though the image looks like a sparkling phantom. It’s a pretty neat effect. The projection of my five-year old is about half the size of the background singers and she looked so cute trying to imitate the dance moves on the TV screen.

The game also feature real-time pitch-correction technology, which adjust your pitch on the fly. However, you need a microphone to use this feature. By microphone, I mean one that is separate from the built-in one on the Kinect system. The Kinect microphone works just fine for the game, but you need a separate microphone if you want to hear yourself sing though the TV speakers. We didn’t actually try the pitch-correction option because we don’t have an external microphone.

What I like about Michael Jackson The Experience

  • Love the projection of my likeness on the dance floor
  • It’s a lot of fun and generates a lot of laugher if you don’t have the slightest ability to dance (like me)
  • The whole family can play
  • The dance moves are not easy, but not so difficult that kids can’t try to do them (they won’t be able to do them perfectly, but they will get some points for being close)
  • It’s cute seeing your kids trying to imitate the dance moves
  • Love the Michael Jackson songs (I think there are 29 songs, including my favorites: Billie Jean, Beat It, and Thriller)

What I didn’t like about Michael Jackson The Experience

  • The navigation could be a lot better — it seems to be super-sensitive and it was difficult to select the song I wanted
  • You can’t sing and dance at the same time — it seems like Master Performance level should require you to do both instead of alternating between singing and dancing
  • You can’t dance at the same time with other players — you have to take turns jumping in and out of the song
  • The sing-a-long tracking doesn’t seem to be very accurate — I scored points even when I replaced the entire lyrics with silly gibberish

In conclusion, I would like to say the game is fun and generates a lot of laugher. This is a game the whole family can play. Keep in mind the game is rated Everyone 10+ and includes some crotch grabbing moves (my kids, ages ten to five, didn’t really notice). I love the Michael Jackson tunes and the real-time projection of my likeness on the screen. The girls in our family like the game the best, but my oldest boy likes it too. My seven-year old son was reluctant to the try the game at first. But once he started dancing, he didn’t want to stop. Even my two-year old likes to jump in from time to time. He’s not very good, but unlike me, he has an excuse for looking silly. A weakness of the game is the inability for players to sing and dance at the same time. In addition, only one person at a time can dance or sing. The Kinect version of Michael Jackson The Experience has a list price of $50 (currently $45 on Amazon). There are also different versions of the game for the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP.

Michael Jackson The Experience for the Xbox 360 Kinect ~ Ubisoft