So I’m doing something a little different with this “Post-Script”: Reviewing a title that has been released on two systems. “But wait”, I hear you say. “Aren’t cross-platform releases the exact same thing with minimal to no changes?” In some cases, yes. In other cases, even though some games may have the same name, the similarities stop there. Look at 2009’s Ghostbusters game. Both Wii and HD versions have the same main story, but are presented in two entirely different ways. And such is the case of Michael Jackson: The Experience.

There is one continued “grouse” point that I will bring up for both: Store-exclusive content. The game is pretty much the same wherever you go, save for Wal-Mart, where buyers get an extra exclusive track “Another Part of Me” from the Bad album and the Captain EO mini-film. I personally love this song, and the news wasn’t widely hyped, so it’s irritating to miss out on such a catchy tune. Buyer beware. More content for the same price.

But the Wii version and Kinect version are two separate beasts. I’ll point out all the major differences:

Wii: The game is set up in the style of MJ’s music videos, complete with special effects and signature scene cues. Jackson himself is presented in a weird “ghostly” style, but his look changes from era to album. Play is done through the Wii Remote only with no major button presses outside of menu selections. This game could have greatly benefited from Motion Plus, but Nintendo rarely uses the feature themselves, so why should we expect the same out of third parties? Still, the dance routines are very high energy and video accurate, and if you allow yourself to actually get into it, they are a lot of fun and will generate a sweat.

Not all moves are as responsive as I would have liked, the difficulty is non adjustable, and the menu and extra features are completely bare bones, unlike the excellent Beatles: Rock Band. A musical legend deserves more.

Here is what the Wii/PS Move versions looks like:

Kinect: The Kinect version had a six month delay window, and after sampling the incredible Dance Central, I had high hopes for this game. Set up less as a music video and more of a stage performance, Kinect allows you to sing. I had some issues with Kinect. I’m a fan of Jackson’s music, and I do know the songs and the notes. The game expects players to carry notes out longer that Jackson sings them, in some cases by a good 2-3 seconds. There are some special effects like the Wii version, but they aren’t as elaborate and iconic in presentation. It’s cool to see yourself up on the virtual stage, but the moves are vastly different from the Wii version. Instead of feeling like Michael, I felt more like one of his backup dancers. Not what I want from a Michael Jackson music game.

A good example of this is the song “Keep It In The Closet”, which in the Wii version was a pairing off with a virtual female dancer and somewhat seductive. The Kinect version is little more than four moves for this song, which makes you feel like a prancing pony.

This is Wii/PS3:

Fortunately, not all songs are this limited, and some are actually decent… but again, not as robust as the Wii. Another feature the game needed as the option to play as just dance, just sing, and a combo of dance and sing. Some songs offer some of these options, but not all. Slow ballads offer singing only with no moves, and after fighting allergies, there are some songs I would have just liked to dance to without gasping like a frog. I’m better these days, but again, sometimes I’d rather just dance. Again, this version also offers bare bones menus and extras.

Honestly, if the two games were combined as one, with the video style and high energy moves of the Wii, and the singing and “real person” represented stage presentation of Kinect, this would have been a more solid package overall, but I’m going to have to give this “win” to the Wii as the more “accurate” experience. It’s crazy to think that the version that only needs to register movement from the player’s right hand would give the better full-body workout. The Kinect version still offers some fun, but Ubisoft should have used those six extra months to study Dance Central more and worked to have refined the singing notes. You may be able to fool casual music listeners, but you can’t fool the fans.

UPDATE: Apparently, The Playstation 3 version gives the (updated and HD) graphics of the Wii version, more singing and/or dancing options to work with than Kinect, and… yeah. That just sucks that one version gets the best of both. Brilliant job, Ubisoft.

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Filed under: kinectmichael jacksonpost-scriptwii gaming