Moonwalker at

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker


There are a select few who could survive the transition to video game protagonist. One can’t quite imagine Super Bono RPG, for instance. But Michael Jackson? There was a guy ripe for gamedom.

I first ran across Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker in a run-down mall arcade in Mexico. I had only the vaguest idea of who Jackson was, and absolutely no notion that the game before my grubby hands was based on a film of his. It didn’t really matter, because a sharply-dressed gangster who killed kidnapping robots with magic bursts of energy was, as far as I recall, an untapped niche in the 90s arcade scene. There was also the ability to dance the enemies to death and an out-of-nowhere robot power-up in the form of Bubbles the Chimp, just to reinforce the whole Michael Jackson theme it had going on.

Note to kids: learn how to dance and you can be this cool, too!

Interestingly enough, I never got close to finishing the game. It was always a guilty pleasure I could plunk a few quarters in to pass the time. It didn’t whip me into a spastic frenzy the way that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could, but there was a certain bit of charm to holding the attack button down so Mikey could moonwalk all over the stage. I like to think I walked away from the game feeling just a slight bit cooler. Also of note, the machine stuck around for many, many years. For close to a decade’s worth of sporadic tourism, I saw the cabinet as my relatives took me on the customary mall excursion.

In this odd fashion, Moonwalker became a staple of my childhood, and it’s my choice for our Classic Game of the Week.

No doubt, the immediate future will be filled with all kinds of tributes directed to The Gloved One. To these outpourings of loss and love, I can only offer one comment: He made a damned fun game.


I loved this game! I didn't think anyone else ever played it, though. It was on my cabinet rotation shortlist when I was a kid; this, The Simpsons, X-Men (6-player), and SFII. And it was the very first game I grabbed when I threw a MAME on my HTPC. Ah, memories...

I never beat it either; I always ran out of quarters before I could get to the end. it was a brutal game.

I spent a lot of time at the arcade as a kid, and I never remember seeing this one. That Journey game? Sure. This? Boy, I don't even remember hearing about it.

I remember playing this all the time at my local Wal-Mart. The first time I got the robot power-up I distinctly remember having a WTH moment but I went with it. It was MJ after all. Never before or since have I played a game where I killed bad guys by throwing my fedora at them while balanced on tip-toes. I think this might need to be something they work into Mafia 2.

This game really hasn't aged well..

I remember renting it for the Sega Genesis, after having seen the movie and thinking the giant Jacksonbot was the coolest thing ever. I don't remember getting too far along in the game, though-- maybe stage 3 or 4-- it's been so long I just remember throwing hats at the goons.

MaxShrek wrote:

This game really hasn't aged well..

Yeah, I appreciate the sentiment behind the nomination here, but the absurdity in this game just comes from being an ultra-faithful interpretation of the Moonwalker movie where all of these things actually happened.

As an aside, though, I think it's worth bringing attention to the last level of the Genesis game, which is one of the all-time-WTF game design moments in history.

Spoilarz wrote:

[color=white]After playing through a Shinobi ripoff - okay, "Dance Magic Enhanced Shinobi Homage" - for the entire game...the last level of the game, "Michael's Battle Plane", flings you into a terrible flight simulator, where you're in the cockpit of a Michael Jackson starship that's chasing after Mr. Big in space.

The flight sim stuff starts at around 5:30 of this video, but you really should probably start from 4:20 to get the full Moonwalker Genesis experience.


The Gloved One?

How about The One Gloved?

I honestly didn't know it was based on a movie at first either and I loved the game...the only problem was when the whole thing went down with the child molestation it kind of made me look back at the game with a little bit of uneasiness. Now that's not to say that there was anything blatant in the game itself it just made me think that there might have been hints.

The best part of the Genesis version was the sound settings screen that featured a 16-bit digitized MJ and he'd make different faces with each MJ "sound" you played - one of the funniest things I have ever seen in any game.

MaxShrek wrote:

This game really hasn't aged well..

True. Brawlers tend to be less and less interesting outside of the arcade (i.e. in a case of unlimited credits). The premise is really what sets the stage, so to speak.

I suppose I'm just easily distracted.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

Yeah, I appreciate the sentiment behind the nomination here, but the absurdity in this game just comes from being an ultra-faithful interpretation of the Moonwalker movie where all of these things actually happened.

It's a good adaptation of the movie, I'd say. It cribs from the general plot and some notable scenes. But I think my overall glee with the thing comes from dancing people to death. And like I said, without prior knowledge of there being a movie, the game was rather ludicrous.

Even knowing about the movie, there's a certain kind of novelty from the fact that someone saw Moonwalker and decided "Hey, this would make a WONDERFUL game!"

OOh, shiny things!

The value on these machines must be through the roof right now.

I played this when I was a kid at Aladin's Castle. It got a few of my quarters. It wasn't bad.

I just did a speed run of this game. With infinite credits/continues, it only takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. I thought it was an awesome arcade game when I was a kid, and still think it's pretty fun today. And Moonwalker has one of the most hilarious enemies I've ever encountered in a game, the green robot with a mechanized battering ram between its legs. It's so wrong on so many levels. Haha!

Realize that the Genesis game (I won't even call it a version) was dramatically different and inferior to the arcade machine. If you want to see something entertaining, follow the link. The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed Moonwalker.