A subject pertaining to Michael that has little cover in the fan community is his role in the video gaming industry. As a fan, character, and composer of music (no surprise there), this part of Michael’s legacy may be overlooked.
His sparked interest created his first known involvement, which can be found in his gaming debut Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Released in 1989, the video game was made for arcade, computer, and console and was a small success of its time, co-created by Michael himself. Aptly named after the success of the 1988 film Moonwalker, the video game is themed after the Smooth Criminal sequence. If you know the short film, you’ll know Michael saves the day by rescuing kidnapped children from the evil “Mr. Big” and using his powerful dancing to do so. Bubbles even makes an appearance in the game.
Later in 1994, Michael composed material for the hit Sega video game Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This was done is secrecy, and not many knew he was aiding the development in the game itself. Rumor has it that the reason Michael is not credited in the games credits is due to the fact that he was not happy with the way things sounded. Rumor also has it that the sounds he created for the game became the basis for Stranger in Moscow. Bradley Buxer, who partnered with Michael to compose for Sega and is credited in the game had this to say for Black & White magazine:
“Michael called me at the time for help on this project, and that’s what I did. And if he is not credited for composing the music, it’s because he was not happy with the sound coming out of the console. At the time, game consoles did not allow an optimal sound reproduction, and Michael found it frustrating. He did not want to be associated with a product that devalued his music.” – Buxer
He also says the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 song and Stranger in Moscow are related.
Here is a link to that brief interview for Black & White Magazine Buxer did in December of 2009.
Here’s your opportunity to be the judge:
Here is the song in the end credits of Sonic the Hedgehog 3…
And that same tune over Stranger in Moscow…
Aside from that, let’s travel 5 years into the future and you’ll find Michael’s cameo appearances in Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5: Part 2. Released in 1999 in Japan, this video game was another “music/rhythm” video game in which Michael’s singing and dancing not only transcend time and space, but ultimately help save the day.
The synopsis for this game is as follows:
“It’s the 25th century, and planet Earth is in a state of crisis. An alien race, the Morolians, have launched an invasion against Earth, randomly shooting innocent victims with a mysterious ray gun. The effect of the ray is rather unusual, as it forces people to dance uncontrollably, and enslaves them to alien rhythms. Of course, their attack has caused a widespread panic. The first station to grab the scoop is a little–watched space broadcaster, “Space Channel 5”.
The premise of the game also reveals that the evil boss who is responsible for mayhem and controlling the “Morolians” desires ratings over the truth. Sound familiar? Michael’s roles in the first Space Channel 5 and the sequel (where he becomes the new boss of Space Channel 5) as Space Michael can be seen in a little further detail in the following video:
And lastly, we have Michael’s final character created, in-part, by him. Would you believe it was for a boxing game? That’s right! Released in 2000, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 featured Michael as a boxer, which, allegedly, he was motion captured and digitally photographed for along with Shaquille O’neal. Though there is not much noted in the game as far as the above, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was involved a little more than let on.
While there is no known involvement of the development of the Michael Jackson: The Experience games released in the last two years, it makes you wonder: what would a video game of such evolved technology look like– be like with Michael’s touch?