Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

The King of Pop extended his domain into the realm of video games in 1990 with the release of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Based on the singer’s 1988 direct-to-video feature (which was released theatrically in Europe), the video game version focused on the movie’s fantasy elements—robots, magic, crime lords and dancin’, dancin’, dancin’!

In the game, a whole herd of children had been kidnapped by the evil Mr. BIG and his minions. Decked out in a hip suit and hat combo (his “Smooth Criminal” attire), MJ searched through five levels for the missing tykes, blowing away enemy thugs, robots and other machines with his magic blasts.

If the baddies got too bad to handle, Jackson could fall back on his “Dance Magic” attack. Instead of the traditional video game smartbombs and such, Mike dazzled his opponents with his fancy footwork. Soon, the enemies got caught up in the rhythm as well, and once they started dancing, they couldn’t stop until they exploded.

Each of the game’s five levels—Cavern, Amusement Quarter, Night Street, Graveyard and Evil Fortress—held a number of kidnapped kids, some of whom would refuel MJ’s limited “Dance Magic” reserves. As the level went on, Michael’s chimp pal Bubbles also entered the scene, and one touch of the monkey’s paw turned Michael into Moonwalker, a laser-shooting robot with a thick metal hide and an arsenal of missiles. The extra firepower came in handy at the end of the stage, where enemy bosses lay in wait to vaporize poor Mikey.

Naturally, the game supplied an array of Jackson’s pop hits, including “Bad,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” Moonwalker also sported a less expected feature: multiple Michaels. The game allowed for three-person simultaneous play, with white-, red- and blue-suited Michaels teaming up to take on Mr. BIG and his forces.

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker didn’t set the arcade world on fire, but the combination of fantasy gameplay, flashy graphics and Top 40 tunes made the game a hit with Mike’s legion of fans. The gloved one has yet to inspire another arcade game, but at the very least, Moonwalker earned him a spot with Journey and Aerosmith on the very short list of music celebrities turned video game stars.

Arcade Machine Release History

1990 - Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

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