Few performers have affected the world like Michael Jackson has, and it is only fitting that his music is immortalized in a game like Michael Jackson: The Experience. This game brings the catalog of Michael Jackson’s greatest songs to your Playstation Vita. Michael Jackson: The Experience is a rhythm-based game, where players will tap and swipe their way through such classic songs as Bad, Beat It, and Billie Jean. The gameplay is simple, straight-forward, and sure to give gamers a chance to experience Michael Jackson’s music in a new and interesting way.
Michael Jackson: The Experience features fifteen songs for you to play, covering most of the pop star’s biggest hits. Each song has three difficulties for you to master along the way. You start the game with a short tutorial and then you are free to explore the catalog as you see fit. The object of the game is to follow the in-game prompts by tapping or swiping the screen when indicated. The more prompts you get correctly, the more points are earned. Bonuses are given for large chains of correct prompts, so to ensure a high score, make sure to chain your moves. From a gameplay perspective, this game follows the rhythm game formula; if you’ve played any other rhythm game before, you’ll catch on quickly.
In addition to completing the song, each one has a goal for you to achieve. Goals range from achieving a certain amount of correct prompts in a row to executing certain moves. When done correctly, you can unlock additional features in the game, such as clothing for Michael to wear during gameplay or new dance moves to pull out during freestyle dancing sessions. These challenges are a nice addition, since most rhythm games are traditionally a score chase. Having something to do other than getting to the end adds an element of challenge that fits this game nicely.
Granted, there is plenty of charm to sitting down and hearing your favorite Michael Jackson songs and getting in some quality rhythm game action; however, even a newcomer to rhythm games can finish off everything this game has to offer in just a few hours. With only fifteen tracks to the title, there isn’t a lot of gameplay available before you experience the same songs again. When you consider the price of the game, the value here is weak. Especially when you take into account that the PSP version of this game had an initial offering of seventeen songs. With a system as capable as the Playstation Vita, it is fair to expect more than what gamers received for the PSP.
In addition to a limited initial library offering, there is a lack of different modes that are normally featured in rhythm games. There is only one way to play the game, so what you see in the single player campaign is literally what you get throughout this title. There is a “versus” mode that allows you and a friend to play the game in the same room at the same time. This mode breaks down to which player can get more prompts, and ultimately is just a reiteration of the single-player game stretched to a two-player mode. This has the potential to provide some fun, but unfortunately, there aren’t any battle mechanics or competitive aspects that are going to keep friends battling against each other for more than a few songs.
This is a much better game on the major consoles, and though the Playstation Vita version offers some tracks not available elsewhere, the library on the consoles almost doubles that on the handhelds. In addition to that, actually dancing along with Michael Jackson is a much more immersive experience. Part of the fun of the console versions is being able to play this game with your friends and act out some of Michael Jackson’s greatest dance moves. It is hard to top the console versions, since getting up and dancing is what Michael Jackson’s music is all about.
With that being said, Michael Jackson: The Experience is not a bad game. It offers Michael Jackson fans some fun in listening to, and tapping along with, some of Jackson’s greatest hits. Whether or not you will like this game will depend on what you are expecting to get out of this title. If you want a full-featured, extensive experience with a large selection of songs to play, then the console version is definitely for you. If you are okay with a more compact experience that hits all the highlights, then this version of the game should give you plenty of value.
This review is based off a review copy of the Playstation Vita version of Michael Jackson: The Experience by Ubisoft