Michael Jackson: The Experience

What It Is

Michael Jackson: The Experience has been available for Wii for a while, and now Xbox users can get in on the moon walking fun with the new Kinect version. The Kinect version is basically identical to the Wii game and requires you to dance to the music of Michael Jackson. The premise is like any dance video game: You have to mimic the moves of the character on screen by hitting the correct pose at the right moment. Unlike other dance games such as Dance Central, The Experience puts you on the screen in real time as you dance. It’s just like looking at The Man In The Mirror (that’s a MJ song isn’t it?). Your video image takes center stage, and the dancer you have to follow is one of your two background dancers. Another difference from other dance games is the addition of a karaoke mode that requires you to sing the lyrics to the songs as you would in any karaoke game.

Why It’s Fun

Did you know that Michael Jackson made a lot of music videos? It’s true and apparently they used to show those videos on MTV. Weird, right? If you choose one of the songs that MJ made a video for, many of the dance moves are the actual moves from his video so you can dance just like the media-crowned King of Pop. If you ever find yourself at a party where the host insists that everyone play this game choose Thriller because I bet you have seen the original video, a parody of the video or even a prison flash mob doing the “Thriller dance” so you will have an advantage and can impress everyone at the party with your skills. (However, if you are at a party where the host insists that you play anything, you might want to rethink your friends.)

For any dance game to be fun, there have to be a lot of good songs to choose from, and Michael Jackson was no slouch in the recording studio. The Experience contains nearly 30 songs including his biggest hits like Beat It, Black Or White, Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean and Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough. There are also a lot of songs that I have never heard—Ghost, Money and Speed Demons—but they seemed to surprise and impress the MJ fans I was playing with.

Who’s Going To Love It

While there are a lot of good songs to choose from, they are all Michael Jackson songs (no Jackson 5) so you really have to like his music to like this game.

The dancing in this game doesn’t seem as difficult or strenuous as the dancing in Dance Central so I imagine that it should appeal to a broad range of ages. This makes it a great game for the entire family to play together but not so good for anyone looking to work up a sweat on the living room dance floor.

What To Be Aware Of

The first time I played this game with a group of people, we went for the full performance option of every song. The full performance combines dancing with singing and has you dance for part of the song then sing a part and then back to dancing and so on. Going from dancing to singing in the middle of a song was more distracting than fun because just when you are moving and grooving, it’s time to stand still and sing. If you bought this game, it’s probably because you want to dance so select the dance only option before launching each song.

The Battle option in the Co-Op mode has you split into two teams of up to two players on each team. Rather than have both teams jump in and out of the song, which would be fun, team one performs the entire song first and then team two has to perform the same song. Some of MJ’s songs are long and having to listen to them two times in a row isn’t a lot of fun.

I have yet to find a song that has you do the moon walk.


Like any dance game, there are no surprises once you have played every song. The Experience keeps things fresh by giving you the option of adding the karaoke element to each song but as I mentioned above, it’s not as fun as dancing on its own.

If you like the game, you will probably play through almost every song at least once but I don’t know if this game will take the place of Dance Central when looking for a fun game to repeatedly play with friends.

Fun Scale

3 out of 5

It has to be fun or it wouldn’t be on Time to Play. But some games are more fun than others so here’s our scale: 1 is fun, 2 is a lot of fun, 3 is great, 4 is awesome and 5 is out-of-this-world!

Video Game Information

Michael Jackson: The Experience
Publisher: Ubisoft
Rated: Everyone 10+

System: Xbox Kinect
Genre: Dance/Karaoke
Players: 1 - 4

SRP: $49.99
Launch Date: April 12, 2011
Date of Review: May 12, 2011

*Rating determined by the ESRB


What do you think about Michael Jackson: The Experience?

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