9th August 20:24
Will they have to burn all cartridges and ROMs of this game now? (energy evil songs image air)
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Blast from the past
MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOONWALKER
By TAN KIT HOONG
HIGH-PITCHED screams, crotch-grabbing moves, single sequin-studded white
glove Ė what does that remind you of? Yes, Michael Jackson.
But so what?
Well, way back in the 80s, Sega produced a licensed game, loosely based
on Jacksonís Moonwalker movie, for the arcades as well as the companyís
then popular 16-bit Sega Megadrive game console.
The game had pretty good gameplay and was one of the more popular titles
for the Megadrive.
I have many fond memories of playing this game with my brother when he
first bought a Megadrive, though I never got to finish it.
Thanks to the wonder of modern computing, some enthusiasts have created
emulators that can run Megadrive games on the modern PC.
There are a whole bunch of emulators for game consoles out there and
most of them are actually free and quite legal to download.
I used one called Gens, which is a Sega Genesis (thatís what the
Megadrive was called in the United States) emulator that works on all
Windows platforms, including Windows 2000.
A quick note here, if you please. While the emulators themselves are
legal, you still need the ROM image of the original game and the only
legal way is if you own the original cartridge (which I do for this
If you own one of these cartridges, then you need a hardware device,
something called a ďSuper Magic DriveĒ which you can plug the cartridge
into and download the ROM image to a floppy disk.
You can also download ROM images of games from the Net, but as I said,
this is blatantly illegal and I wonít even show you where to get them.
So whatís the point of the game?
Well, Moonwalker is basically a side-scrolling platform game where you
have to dance the villains to death.
Yes, you get to moonwalk, kick the air, spin, throw your hat and grab
your crotch, all the while spreading magical fairy dust to knock out the
Sounds bizarre? Wait, it gets better.
The story goes something like this Ė the evil Mr Big has kidnapped a
bunch of little children and intends to get them addicted to drugs. You,
as Michael Jackson, defender of adolescent children, have to break into
the stronghold of Mr Big and rescue all the little girls that the
villain has kidnapped.
Of course, you donít just moonwalk into the manís stronghold and not
expect to get some resistance, and Michael has to contend with gangsters
The controls are fairly simple and apart from the up/down/left/ right
buttons, you can also jump, kick and spin.
Hold down the spin button long enough and you perform Michaelís special
move, which is to throw his fedora at the bad guys, causing them to
explode. Of course, this special move will seriously deplete Michaelís
life energy and so should be used sparingly.
Each level of the game is split into three sub-levels, which are
essentially the same except for differences in maps and difficulty.
Moonwalker starts off in a seedy club with the Smooth Criminal track
playing in the background, and then continues to a street scene (with
Beat it), then to a graveyard (with Thriller, of course), a series of
caves (strangely, itís Billie Jean here) and finally into Mr Bigís
The object of the game is to save a whole bunch of teddy-bear carrying
little girls who are hidden behind doors, windows, car boots and in
other strange places.
Most of the time, the girls are hidden and you have to interact with
certain objects before they are revealed.
For example, you have to press the "spin" button to open doors and
windows and, later in the game, the jump key will open certain hidden
caverns.While the game is a bit repetitious, being basically a
side-scrolling beat-em-up, it does introduce some new elements at every
level, like bouncing ghouls and even sentry guns in one level.
The most challenging part of the game is of course, the end of level
bosses, which usually take the form of either gangsters or ghouls, but
with more agility.
The only problem with the game is that each sub-level is very much the
same as its predecessor, i.e. the locale is the same although the map is
slightly different and the end-of-level bosses are tougher to kill.
I would have preferred if there were only two sub-levels as I found
myself tiring of playing the same locale three times over.
The final level is the surprise, though, as it's a complete departure
from the side-scroller type game in the preceding levels.
Instead, what you get is something very much like LucasArt's X-Wing sim,
which puts you in the ****pit of a spaceship where you have to blow away
a bunch of ships and finally, one containing Mr Big.
The final level is really tough and for all your efforts, you donít even
get any cool cutscenes Ė just a bunch of scrolling credits. Sigh.
Weird story aside, Moonwalker still stands as one of the most enjoyable
games ever produced for the Megadrive.
Itís action-packed and thereís a lot to like about it, especially the
cool synthesised conversions of Jacksonís songs, although the synth
sounds seem to grate on some people.
Some of the game is unintentionally hilarious, like having a Michael
Jackson head go "Oooow" at the beginning of each level.
Even after all these years, the game is still challenging and a lot of
Anybody out there got second-hand Megadrive cartridges for sale?
Pros: Fun; challenging gameplay; great soundtrack.
Cons: Levels are a little repetitious.
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