Take the king of all pop music and turn his music into a rhythm game for the PS Vita with some great touch screen controls and awesome visuals and you have Michael Jackson the Experience HD. I have never been a fan of music games but something about the charm with this game got me quickly addicted and I dumped a lot more time into this game than I should probably ever admit. This game was previously released on multiple other consoles and has been brought over to the Vita and added some game variety to the list of launch titles for the system and I don’t feel ashamed to admit it is a great music title for a handheld.
With smooth graphics and a great soundtrack listing Michael Jackson the Experience HD is easily addictive to music fans and while I have never been a huge Michael Jackson fan I still managed to have a great time playing this game. I originally stuck to the songs I did like and when I played them more and more I was becoming more of a fan and ended up playing every song on the game multiple times. Essentially you feel like you are reenacting the music videos and it feels very accurate and satisfying to make Michael dance like a fiend all over the screen. With challenges for each song and bonuses to unlock there is plenty here to explore and have a great time doing it.
The gameplay is very simple because the entire game is played with the front and back touch screens. All of the menus you navigate with your fingers on the screen and are quick and precise to your touch. The game gives you the option of playing as the front or back touch screen as your default screen depending on what feels more comfortable for you. The way the game plays is simple and addictive as the screen just gives you directions and you have to swipe your finger in that direction in tune with the song. It may sound simple and it is as you just swipe in straight direction and tap the screen in time with the beat but you also have curved and circular motions thrown in the mix as well. You can also use the back touch screen to move Michael around the dance floor during the freestyle sections.
There are a few different gameplay modes that you can access from the main menu. There is the single player history mode where you just select the song you want to play and you try to earn as many points as you can to help you level up your rank. Every song has multiple challenges that if you complete unlock bonuses for that song that help you earn more points. There are also multiple costumes and even Jackson infamous glove selection. There is also a battle mode where you can challenge a friend if you are in close proximity with your Vitas. A nice little bonus feature is that you can watch the performances instead of playing them so you can see what the game has to offer without blocking the screen with your fingers. The one downside I can think of to the game is that on the higher difficulties the game can be a little harsh and very overwhelming. I felt myself getting lost quickly and sometimes your fingers can block your vision if you are using the front touch screen leading to some frustrating moments. There were a few times when I felt I had input the right motion but the game didn’t register it but it’s hard to tell whether I was the one at fault or if the game just read the movement wrong.
The game actually looks really nice on the Vita’s screen. Michael’s character model is different for each song and looks appropriate for what he looked like in each songs music video and it’s a nice touch to keep the game accurate for the time of the songs. The dancing environments are the strongest looking areas of the game for sure. There are lots of flaring effects on the screen and it makes the game really colorful and dynamic and never gets in the way of the action on the screen. Michaels dancing is the highlight of the game as it always entertaining to watch the flashy dance moves performed on the screen.
The time when the graphics really show is when you begin or end any song you are treated to a little animated scene that shows a title card for the song along with an animated part resembling the music video and all of these scenes look fantastic. Some of them look very realistic while others are a little more obvious that these are game graphics. No matter which one you watch however they are all entertaining to watch and look very well done.
From the start I was highly addicted to this game and I still have trouble getting away from it. It’s the first music game I have actually enjoyed and managed to be good at. Any fan of music games should have a lot of fun with this although it helps to be a fan of Michael Jackson as he is the only artist featured in the game naturally. For anyone who can appreciate any kind of music game for what it’s worth can at least have fun with the game as the controls are great and it plays smooth. The controls are what really got me hooked on this game as they are super simple and fun to use and I hope to see more music games on the Vita that play the same. The only thing I would have asked for is a bigger song list as I know other versions of the game have more songs from Michael Jackson’s albums.
A solid rhythm game and probably one of the best to ever be on a handheld, Michael Jackson the Experience is a great offer for fans of music games or if you just love yourself some classic Michael Jackson songs. The audience may be limited because of the single artist in the game but if you can appreciate Jackson’s music or just love any music game than Michael Jackson the Experience HD is definitely worth checking out.