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Michael Jackson: The Experience Kinect Review

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Michael Jackson: The Experience Kinect Review
04-26-2011, 09:18 PM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2011 08:42 PM by Clemens.)
Post: #1
Thumbs Up Michael Jackson: The Experience Kinect Review
Michael Jackson: The Experience

[Image: 366-5738614IEUC905442M.jpg]
  • Official site http://theexperience-thegame.ubi.com/mic...index.aspx
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Genre: Dancing Simulator & Karaoke
  • Alternative game name: None
  • Players: 1 - 4 (Not simultaneously, except for "Battle" mode which has 1 singer and 1 dancer per team performing together.)
  • Xbox Live supported?: Yes (But not for multiplayer or even leaderboards it seems.)
  • Uses avatars?: No, it uses you in live action via Player Projection!
  • Age group: All ages. (Although it's rated 12. :/ )

Michael Jackson: The Experience - The good
  • It's a Michael Jackson game!
  • A decent tracklist with 30* songs.
  • Great use of Kinect with the Player Projection technology and basically lagless for all intents and purposes.
  • MJ School accurately teaches you moves that either aren't in the main game or aren't accurate in it and you're on screen the whole time via Player Projection so you can dance along.

Michael Jackson: The Experience - The not so good
  • Not much "game", like no level progression and nothing to collect except scores and Achievements.
  • Choreography isn't 100% perfect in the main game, so don't expect to "play" the full music videos dance routines/concert performances, although you do perform for the whole length of each song.
  • Practice mode doesn't break down the moves enough and you can't slow them down like you can in Dance Central.
  • MJ School, while otherwise great, doesn't have the entire dance routines performed at full length with the songs at the end of each lesson. You'll have to learn the moves from MJ School then put them all together yourself to perform the whole song.

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Story
Unfortunately there's no story or career mode, you just pick a song then select the performance mode you want.

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Kinect experience
Kinect is used and works very well in MJE. Ubisoft have used their "Player Projection" technology to put you in the game via a point cloud-based 3D model of you (which is created when Kinect scans you, but most games just use the data from 20 points per player to create a skeletal system rather than using the hundreds of thousands of points in the full point cloud that probably uses a lot of processing power) with your video image overlayed to create a pseudo-3D video holographic effect. It's also pretty lagLESS, the best comparison would be Your Shape of course and it's basically identical except the player's character is better graphics in MJE, but if you haven't played that then think of Kinect Adventures or Kinect Sports or maybe even better as far as lack of lag goes! Put it this way, you'd probably have to have a mirror next to the TV to notice the response difference and even then you'd probably have to really concentrate, lol! (And in absolutely NO WAY "significant lag", take note Gamespot!)

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Graphics
The graphics are pretty great for what they are. As well as the player and a few live-action video backing dancers you have a concert stage with video & CGI backdrops based on the song you're performing and the stage is surrouned by a silhouetted (but still animated, not static, and cheer, chant "Mi-chael! Mi-chael!" and even sometimes sing along) audience. There are also various little special effects popping up. Basically it looks like how the finished This Is It concerts would have looked in real life if MJ hadn't died. Sad (Although it doesn't use exactly the same designs as This Is It.) I can understand some people preferring the graphics of Dance Central as it has well detailed and animated screen filling characters both as the main dancer and backing dancers and the small crowd, but then that seems to show street and nightclub dancing whereas MJE is a simulated concert performance (although you're limited to about a 6ft square in the middle of the stage even if you have a bigger play-space than that in your house, so you don't get to run around the stage like in a real MJ concert) so MJE's graphics just suit the game, esepcially since it uses "Player Projection". Also Player Projection technology probably takes a lot of processing power so I don't think that games that use it will have as good graphics overall, technically at least, as other Kinect games that use skeletal systems or other control methods.

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Gameplay


Disclaimer: Due to health and space issues (and the space issues are due to ill health as I haven't managed to finish sorting out the room yet) I haven't been able to play MJE thoroughly so I can't say too much about how well it actually plays so feel free to add your own gameplay impressions, good or bad, in the comments.

Not a traditional game
Also, to me it's more of a singing and (especially) dancing simulator and trainer rather than a traditional game, especially since there's very little "game" to it really. As there's no story or career mode there's no level progression (although apparently Dance Central is the same) and apart from the personal goals of wanting to learn MJ dancing and MJ songs to sing (although there's no singing tutorials) there aren't any goals in the game other than getting the highest scores (but there don't seem to be any Xbox Live leaderboards) and gaining Achievements. Plus there's no "Game Over" no matter how badly you mess up. But again from what I've heard Dance Central is the same (except it does have Xbox Live leaderboards) and people don't seem to have a problem with that in general so maybe it's no that bad.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Unless you hate MJ (blasphemy! Wink ) it should be still be great fun to play regardless. Although it most likely has a steeper learning curve than Dance Central as they don't break down the moves as much or as slowly in MJE, and of course they're MJ moves. Having said that some of the moves aren't quite accurate to the original moves. I don't know why that is since at least some of them aren't complex at all so it can't be technical issues with Kinect. For instance there's a move I'm sure even non-MJ fans will know where MJ does a kick then taps his knee with his hand and in the game they just do the kick without the hand tap which just looks lame. Then there's the sort of exaggerated stepping move in Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough where in the original video MJ either has his arms still by his side or held up to his chest but in the game you have to put your opposite hand down to your lifted foot for some reason. Unfortunately none of the (main game) dance routines are actually 100% perfect replications of the original music videos or concert performances.

Master Performance Mode
To learn the truely accurate choreography for some of the songs you'll have to go to school... MJ School! Which I'll talk about later. I don't know why they don't have the full 100% accurate choreography (where possible) in the main game, especially in Master Performance mode. I think that Master Performance mode should have been called Hard or Expert or something and that they then had a proper "Master Performance" mode that actually did have have the full routines. It could have had a warning before it just letting everybody know what would be required of them to play that mode. Also the scoring is sometimes a bit lenient, even in Master Performance mode, and basically seems to at least sometimes just require you to get the timing right while performing the correct move to get a "Perfect" rather than always requiring you to perform the correct move CORRECTLY, which is what it should require really to get a "Perfect". Again, that should be the point of Master Performance mode and I thought it would be like that since I heard that Your Shape's exercises are quite strict and MJE uses the same technology.

Another Part of Me
Another thing I'm sure the real Michael Jackson fans will be disappointed by is that Another Part Of Me doesn't have any of the choreography from the Captain EO version. At first I thought that it could be possible that Disney actually owned the rights to that dance routine, because I'm pretty sure MJ has never performed Another Part Of Me with the Captain EO dance routine other than in Captain EO, but then I saw that the Wii/Move version has some of the Captain EO choreography (although the impersonator is wearing the Bad outfit while performing it, lol!) so now I don't understand why the Kinect version doesn't have any of it. Sad One more feature that MJE doesn't have that no doubt many people would have loved is a replay feature so that you could have been able to show off your previously recorded performances. I know I've listed quite a few criticisms but you shouldn't be put off by them as it's still a great game, it's just that these are some flaws that us MJ fans will definitely notice.

Song List & Other Content
Despite not having a lot of "gameplay" features there is quite a lot of content since the tracklist is a selection of songs from every solo Michael Jackson album except for the new, posthumous "Michael" album or any Motown albums. (So no Jackson 5 songs or The Jacksons songs either for that matter even though they were on the Epic label like MJ's solo albums which is why they had to change the band's name when they left Motown because due to contractual legalities Motown actually Owned the name Jackson 5/Jackson Five!) There are 29 songs (or 30 if you got Another Part Of Me either with the Collectors Edition or as a pre-order bonus) and out of those there are 9 that include the Master Performance option, 15 that include the dance only option and 5 that are purely vocal performance only and don't give you the option to dance at all. (Well, you can still dance if you want but the game won't rate your dancing for those performances.) I'm surprised Earth Song and Will You Be There are Vocal Performance only though since MJ performed some dancing for those songs. Also it's a bit strange that an option for vocal performance only for all the songs wasn't included so that people can just play it as a karaoke game when they don't feel like dancing. (And equally they should have included a dance only option for all the songs that have dancing and there should have been a Master Performance Dancing option so that you could play the hardest mode just for the dancing without having to sing too.) And unfortunately, unlike the Move version, the lyrics only appear onscreen during the mandatory singing sections of each song rather than being displayed throughout the entire song. Here is the tracklist and the options available for each song. All songs also have the Practice option except for the Vocal Performance only songs. "Dance" is the option to just dance and it's the set at the easiest difficulty level (and for some reason in "Dance" mode the moves aren't always in sync with the music, I don't mean lag I mean even the backing dancers), "Vocal Performance" is for the 5 songs that are singing only, "Performance" is the option for both singing and dancing at the medium difficulty level and "Master Performance" is the option for both singing and dancing at the hardest difficulty level:

  1. Another Part Of Me* (*Exclusive to the Collectors Edition and as a pre-order bonus at selected shops.) - Performance.
  2. Bad - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  3. Beat It - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  4. Billie Jean - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  5. Black or White - Dance, Performance.
  6. Blood on the Dance Floor - Dance, Performance.
  7. Dirty Diana - Performance. (With very little dancing unfortunately, just a couple of moves.)
  8. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  9. Earth Song - Vocal Performance only.
  10. Ghosts - Dance, Performance. (Why no Master Performance??!)
  11. Heal the World - Vocal Performance only.
  12. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You - Vocal Performance only.
  13. In the Closet - Dance, Performance.
  14. Leave Me Alone - Performance.
  15. Money - Dance, Performance.
  16. Remember the Time - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  17. Rock With You - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  18. Smooth Criminal - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  19. Speed Demon - Performance.
  20. Stranger In Moscow - Performance.
  21. Streetwalker - Performance.
  22. Sunset Driver - Dance, Performance.
  23. The Girl Is Mine - Vocal Performance only.
  24. The Way You Make Me Feel - Performance.
  25. They Don’t Care About Us - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  26. Thriller - Dance, Performance, Master Performance.
  27. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ - Performance.
  28. Who Is It - Performance.
  29. Will You Be There - Vocal Performance only.
  30. Workin’ Day and Night - Performance.

I don't know what happened to Man In The Mirror and You Rock My World, I thought they were supposed to be in the tracklist too? Maybe they've been held back for DLC? Anyway, as you can see it has a great line up of songs, only 3 less than Dance Central's on-disc songs or only 2 less if you got Another Part Of Me, with most of the biggest hits accounted for. No doubt there'll be DLC for at least the most noticable omissions such as the aforementioned Man In The Mirror and You Rock My World as well as (hopefully) Off The Wall, Human Nature, P.Y.T., Liberian Girl, Come Together, Dangerous, Jam, Give In To Me, Scream, 2 Bad and One More Chance. I can't really judge the singing par of the game as I haven't tried it yet.


This mode in MJE really addresses any disappointments over the main game not having 100% perfect choreography. (For 13 of the main game's songs at least.) As far as I could tell (and can currently remember) it has the complete choreography for 11 of the songs, when it comes to the other 2 Beat It just seems to have the main dance and for Black Or White they only teach you 3 moves! (And not even the memorable ones that are even in the main game!) All the moves are broken down fairly slowly, unlike in Practice mode in the main game. Some of them are just a few short sequences but I think that's just because they're just repeated a lot in the original music videos or concert performances. That brings me to the only significant criticism about the MJ School mode and that is that at the end of each video they don't then perform the whole dance routine put together for the whole song. I was expecting them to be split screen with the music video or concert performance and perform the whole thing side by side, or at least perform the entire routine to the song playing in the background. They do perform to music but just the section of the song for each part that they're teaching you separately. There are also warm-up videos that consist of stretching and various dance-related moves. I'll also quickly tell you about the "teachers". There are 3 of them but I only know Travis Payne (mainly because he was in This Is It) who is main teacher who teachers the most routines. One of the other MJ School "teachers" wasn't very impressive, his Beat it was very mediocre and his Rock With You was abysmal! It's pretty embarrassing considering Rock With You should be one of the easiest dance routines along with Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough. He doesn't have any MJ "vibe" to him whatsoever. Luckily he only teaches a couple of songs. (Just the choreography for the songs, you don't get any singing lessons!) The female teacher is FAR better! Travis Payne is easily the best teacher although I was surprisingly unimpressed with his moonwalking (yes, you get to learn the moonwalk, so no need to worry about that! Big Grin ) and the "side glide" which is a sideways moonwalking type of move. (MJ fans should know what move I'm talking about.) I think I can do them better than him, lol! Or at least better than those particular demonstrations of them, maybe he just had an off day or the wrong type of shoes. Apart from those relatively minor nit-pickings the MJ School mode is fantastic and pretty much essential for any fan who wants to learn MJ's moves from expert dancers. (And the guy who teaches the Beat It dance, lol! OK, so I'm comparing him to MJ, but still.) Plus you're on screen the whole time via Player Projection so you can see yourself while you're trying to copy the moves. Here are the songs available in the MJ School mode:

  1. Bad
  2. Beat It
  3. Billie Jean
  4. Black or White
  5. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  6. Ghosts
  7. Remember the Time
  8. Rock With You
  9. Smooth Criminal
  10. The Way You Make Me Feel
  11. They Don’t Care About Us
  12. Thriller
  13. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

I don't know if there is going to be any MJ School DLC but it would cool if there is.

Here are 2 video examples (Although they're from the Wii version, the Kinect version has you onscreen next to the video so you can see exactly what you're doing), the first is the teacher who isn't that great teaching (some of) Rock With You and the second video is Billie Jean being taught by Travis Payne who is great except for the rather lackluster moonwalk and "side glide" (the sideways moonwalk type move) at the end (looking at it again it does seem to be his shoes that are the problem as they have a thick tread):

Rock With You

Billie Jean

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Multiplayer options
The multiplayer mode for MJE is called "Party" and the options are just "Co-op", where 2 - 4 players take tuns singing and dancing the different sections in each song, and "Battle" where 2 teams of up to 2 players each take turns against each other with one player in each team singing and the other player in the team (if there are more than 2 players in total) performing the dancing with the aim of beating the other team's score. None of the multiplayer options appear to be able to use Xbox Live to play against other teams online unfortunately. Also, for anybody disappointed that only 1 person can dance at a time, simultaneous multiplayer using Player Projection technology just doesn't seem to be technically possible at the moment as UbiSoft haven't been able to get it working with more than one person.

Michael Jackson: The Experience - Achievements

Please find these elsewhere on 123KINECT

In the Collectors Edition you get the game with a scratch-card code to unlock the bonus song Another Part Of Me (I say unlock because the download is only 100KB which is far too small to be the song's music and graphics so it must already be on the disc which is a bit dodgy!), a handheld microphone like the "Lips" mic I think (I haven't tried it yet), a lyrics book and a T-shirt. Unfortunately the T-shirt is a bit cheesy and girly as it's just plain white with big black text saying "I Heart MJ" with the heart in red and a small black & white image of MJ overlayed on the text and heart. I was hoping that it was going have the same design as on the front of the game. Sad Also it doesn't come with a white glove either! (The Wii Collectors Edition did, didn't it?)

[Image: MJEXP_Next_Gen_Collector_Hero_PEGI.jpg]


Some of the best videos I saw on YouTube:

Beat It

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Beat It (again, but this time performed by the girl who performed Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'.)

Billie Jean


Despite the flaws this really is a great game, although like I said it's more of a Michael Jackson singing and dancing simulator/trainer than a traditional game but I can't see much difference in the gameplay in this and Dance Central from what I've seen (you can let me know of any differences) so anybody who liked Dance Central as a game should like this too.

There really isn't an "experience" like this though, in fact I would call this version of MJE an Xbox 360 exclusive because the full body tracking and visual feedback thanks to Play Projection makes it so different from the other versions. When you really get into it it's like having an out of body experience while performing MJ songs at your own concert! For MJ fans I'd say it's essential because it's a piece of videogame history as there has never been a Michael Jackson game like this and although you can complain about the flaws it's either this or nothing. (Well, OK, this or buy a Wii or PS3 with Move and shake your controller in the right position as an MJ impersonator's gloved hand, lol!)

Also, if MJ had any input in this before he died then the sad fact is that, unless the game MJ was making with Dave Perry (creator of Earthworm Jim) ever gets released, then this is the last videogame that MJ was involved with. Sad Because MJE is a lot of fun, educational in MJ School mode, makes great use of Kinect and is Historic I'm going to give it the equivalent of the original (1980s & 90s) C+VG HIT! score of 85% ("veteran" UK gamers should get that reference Big Grin) by giving this 8.5.
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04-27-2011, 07:22 PM
Post: #2
RE: [Michael Jackson: The Experience] Review: Not Invincible but not Bad either! [8.5/10]
wow, Han, you created the most detailed review yet on 123Kinect! kudos!
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04-27-2011, 07:43 PM (This post was last modified: 04-27-2011 07:45 PM by Corellianrogue.)
Post: #3
Thumbs Up RE: [Michael Jackson: The Experience] Review: Not Invincible but not Bad either! [8.5/10]
(04-27-2011 07:22 PM)dirtyvu Wrote:  wow, Han, you created the most detailed review yet on 123Kinect! kudos!

Thanks. Smile I wanted to write a comprehensive review (or at least as much as I could even though I haven't played everything in it thoroughly) because I've seen a few bad reviews that don't seem to review it properly (and even lie, like Gamespot's "significant lag", I still can't believe that! Angry) or don't really "get it". It's like they were expecting Halo, lol! Or at least a sequel to MJ's Moonwalker game rather than a singing and dancing simulator/trainer. Undecided
Oops! I've just noticed that I posted that girl's Beat It twice instead of Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', I'll just fix it.
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04-27-2011, 11:27 PM
Post: #4
Lightbulb RE: [Michael Jackson: The Experience] Review: Not Invincible but not Bad either! [8.5/10]
I thought I'd just post here the idea I had for a Michael Jackson game back in 2009, right after Kinect (as "Project Natal" back then) was first revealed (which was before MJ died and a year before Ubisoft first revealed MJE) that I mentioned to Clemens, just incase anyone from Ubisoft is reading this and are thinking of making a sequel. Wink Big Grin (They can have this idea free of course, I'm just interested in improving the game.)

In my idea for the game you would actually play as MJ and the game would play out across his solo tours including at the end a recreation of what This Is It would have been. (Of course when I first thought of it MJ was still alive so at the time I was thinking about what This Is It was actually going to be rather than what it would have been. Sad ) You would start with the Bad concert and would have to complete it to move on to Dangerous then HIStory and finally This Is It. In order to complete each concert you would have to dance (and sing if you chose singing and dancing mode) well enough to get a certain score on each song to progress to the next one until the concert was complete. You would be able to save after each song of course as asking people to always perform an entire concert in one session would be a bit much, lol! Once you completed a concert you could save it as a replay so you could show off your performances. Big Grin (I wish they had replays on MJE but maybe it would take too much hard drive space because of the Player Projection technology?) Practice mode would have been like a cross between MJE's MJ School mode and Practice mode because it would have you in MJ's dance room using Kinect's video to actually see yourself in the virtual mirror so you could see your actual dancing more accurately. It would have had MJ (before he died, then after he died I thought a professional choreographer like Travis Payne who actually is the teacher in MJE's MJ School!) in live action (rather than as a CG character, which MJ would be in the main game when you played as him) teaching you the choreography for each song. Although I would have had most of the songs locked until you reached them in the main game, in practice mode all the songs would be available to learn and practice. (Although maybe I might have had a few songs that were bonus unlockables that were locked even in practice mode.) I also thought that maybe it could also include Jackson 5 and The Jacksons concerts in a multiplayer mode where other players could use Guitar Hero or Rock Band instruments and Lips mics to become the other Jacksons. (Well, the player playing the drums would have to be the non-related (I think) Johhny Jackson for the Jackson 5 and Johnathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett for The Jacksons as the only drums any of the Jacksons themselves played in concerts were bongos and congas.) That would have been pretty cool, huh? Cool It's a shame MJE isn't quite like that but I think it's still great.
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