Michael Jackson-related games
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There are at least eight video games that Michael Jackson has composed music for or are directly related to him. Sega was the developer for at least five of them: the arcade and Mega Drive / Genesis versions of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for the Mega Drive / Genesis, and Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5: Part 2 for the Dreamcast. The other three were produced by other companies: Moonwalker by U.S. Gold, Michael Jackson: The Experience by Ubisoft, and Planet Michael by SEE Virtual Worlds.
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (マイケル・ジャクソンズ・ムーンウォーカー Maikeru Jakusonzu Mūn'u~ōkā) is a franchise for several video games based on the film of the same name created by U.S. Gold and Sega in 1989 and 1990 that incorporate the personage of and were co-developed by Jackson himself. The arcade version, home video games and home computer versions all differ in terms of gameplay, but the story and concept remain constant. The story, which is taken from the Moonwalker film, follows Michael, using various music and dance related abilities, on a quest to save kidnapped children from the hands of the evil "Mr. Big". The games incorporated synthesized versions of the musician's hits, such as "Beat It" and "Smooth Criminal". The games have now achieved cult status and are remembered for being a memorable point in Jackson's change to a different stage persona from "Thriller", to "Bad".
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
According to STI director Roger Hector, Michael Jackson was initially brought in during development to compose music for the game, even though no mention of his direct involvement was included in any of the game's credits. This was supposedly due to the scandals that arose around Jackson at the time. His involvement was removed from the title, and much reworking, including all the started music, had to be done. These claims are dubious, however, and various interviews have made it clear that any involvement Jackson may have had was done without the knowledge of Sega's executives or marketing staff, and no contracts or formal agreements had ever been made. James Hansen, of Sonic Stuff Research Group, retorts that Cirocco Jones (credited as "Scirocco" in Sonic 3) still has possession of presumably the demo versions of Jackson's contributions. "I actually have "ALL" of the tracks...," he writes, "from the original humming of Michael calling in the middle of the night leaving messages, to his ideas at Record One with Matt and Bruce. - BUT, I don't think I can let any of that out to the public without permission."
In December 2009, Michael Jackson's tour keyboardist and arranger Brad Buxer told French magazine Black & White that Jackson was actually involved with some of Sonic 3's compositions, supposedly not being credited because he wasn't happy with how they sounded, due to the lack of optimal sound reproduction on the Genesis. Buxer also claimed that the ending music of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 later became the basis for Jackson's single Stranger in Moscow. Recently, it has been revealed that the music for IceCap Zone shares the same chord progressions and instruments with "Hard Times", a previously unreleased track by The Jetzons, of which Buxer was its keyboardist and songwriter. Buxer is also credited with Jones and Jackson on Jones' website. Their roles mention them contributing musical cues for "levels 2 & 3" on the "Sonic the Hedgehog project".
In October 2013, GameTrailers dedicated an episode of its Pop Fiction mini-series to discerning Michael Jackson's involvement. Roger Hector, who previously stated in a 2005 interview that Jackson's involvement in the game was dropped due to scandals surrounding the artists coming to light, reaffirmed his stance, stating any similarities to Jackson's music in the final game was not by design on Sega's part. Whilst GameTrailers were unable to interview Buxer to confirm his stance and were about to close their investigation, they were able to find and speak to an anonymous source who was directly involved with the game's development. They echoed Buxer's statements that Jackson left the project due to his displeasure with the sound quality and that tracks that he had worked on before he left the project, which was before the scandals concerning him were made public, remained in the game unaltered with Jackson choosing to remain uncredited. Carnival Night Zone was specifically mentioned as one of the tracks he composed.
Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5: Part 2
Jackson makes a cameo appearance as Space Michael in Space Channel 5, near the end of the game. Space Michael (スペースマイケル, Supēsu Maikeru) is member of Space Channel 5, based on Jackson and voiced by him. First appearing as a cameo in Part 1, he has a more involved role in Part 2. After being rescued by Ulala from the Rhythm Rogues, Michael uses his singing skills against a singing robot and joins her to fight against Purge.
Jackson had a more prominent role in Space Channel 5: Part 2 where he became the new head of Space Channel 5. Whilst Ulala is distracted by a fake scoop, the headquarters are attacked and Space Michael is kidnapped by Purge and the Rhythm Rogues and has to be rescued by Ulala in a level featuring several of Michael's trademark dance moves. He then joins Ulala in facing up against Purge. In both versions of the game, Michael speaks in English, which is subtitled into Japanese in the Japanese version.
The May 2007 issue of EGM contains a quote from series creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi concerning what it was like to work with Jackson:
- "We were in the middle of production of Space Channel 5, in 1998 or 1999. I got a call from the U.S. from my partner - the executive producer of Space Channel 5 - and he said, 'Oh, Michael wants to act in Space Channel 5.' I said, 'Who's Michael?' 'Who is Michael Jackson?' he said, 'The Michael Jackson - the real Michael Jackson'
- My partner had shown him the 60-to-70 percent complete version, when it was almost at the end of the game. We had one month to finalize. But Michael wanted to do something, so we suggested that if he was OK with it, we could program the people in the game to do the Michael Jackson dance when taken over by aliens. he said 'yeah.' We initially had five aliens who danced. One of them became Michael Jackson."
Michael Jackson: The Experience
Michael Jackson: The Experience is a music video game based on Jackson's music and songs. It was developed and published by Ubisoft and Triumph International (subsidiary by The Michael Jackson Company LLC), and was released on November 23, 2010 for the Wii, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable. Later it was released on other platforms: Xbox 360's Kinect, PlayStation 3's PlayStation Move, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, iOS. The game features many of Michael Jackson's hits, such as "Bad", "Beat It", "Smooth Criminal" and "Billie Jean".
All pre-ordered games featured a limited edition replica of Jackson's famous glove.
Planet Michael is a planned MMORPG based on Jackson's music. It is being developed by SEE MJ Virtual Worlds (The Michael Jackson Company LLC and SEE Entertainment) and is scheduled for release in 2013. Planet Michael is based within the Entropia Universe.
- Carless, Simon (2006-03-27). "Michael Jackson's Secret Sonic 3 Shame". GameSetWatch. Gamasutra.
- Horowitz, Ken (2009-05-19). "Sega Legends: Michael Jackson & Sonic 3". Sega-16. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
- Montgomery, James (2009-12-04). "Did Michael Jackson Compose 'Sonic The Hedgehog 3' Soundtrack?". MTV.com. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Jones, Cirocco. "Cirocco Jones discography". MusicPowers.com. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- Michael Donahue, "Forced Guests: Cameos that make us sceam 'Yessss!'" in Electronic Gaming Monthly 226 (March 2008): 34.
- "Game will let you sing, dance like Michael Jackson". CNN.
- "Pop & Hiss". Los Angeles Times.