Ubisoft has all but cornered the dance video game market in recent years, so it came as no surprise that they would release a Vita version of Michael Jackson The Experience at launch. While Michael Jackson is still one of the most revered musical icons of all time, the Vita game bearing his name just doesn’t live up to the legend. Michael Jackson The Experience on the Vita will have you feeling less like the King of Pop, and more like the guy who insists on drumming his fingers on his desk to whatever song is currently playing on the radio. It’s not that the game is bad, it’s just light on the “Experience”.
The Vita version of Michael Jackson The Experience puts the power of Michael in your fingertips. Utilizing the Vita’s touchscreen, you’ll be swiping and tapping in rhythm with on-screen prompts to get Michael moving. It’s not a bad way to make use of the Vita’s tech, however it’s not as smooth as one would hope. On lower difficulty levels, the touching is a breeze, but the minute you step up to the expert difficulty, things quickly start to fall apart. The issue arises when you’re expected to do multiple touch movements on screen at once in rapid succession. The game often misinterprets movements incorrectly, resulting in you losing your combo streak. It certainly doesn’t ruin the game, but can be a point of frustration for perfectionists.
"While Michael Jackson is still one of the most revered musical icons of all time, the Vita game bearing his name just doesn’t live up to the legend."
Though the development team should be commended for their efforts in bringing a game like MJTE to a handheld device, the touching and tapping doesn’t really make you feel like Michael. Unlike the console versions, you’re extremely limited in what you do within in the game. Watching a virtual Michael move and shake his way through any given song is cool at first, but the allure quickly wears off once you get a few tracks in and find yourself repeating the same swipes and taps over and over again. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if there were more than 15 tracks to play through, but even with three difficulty levels, the lack of content becomes apparent just a few hours after you start playing.
What’s more, you actually have to unlock the ability to play tracks on higher difficulties, and you have to earn the right to get a “perfect” touch. The “perfect” movement isn’t available to you until after you level up your career a little bit, which is simply absurd. It’s particularly frustrating early on when you think your timing is on point, but the game only rewards you with a “great” ranking. Having to play through tracks multiple times just to earn the right to try them on a more advanced difficulty is also a bit ridiculous. These decisions seem like nothing more than reasons for the title’s developers to keep dangling that carrot of progression in front of you. Unfortunately, the effect wears thin thanks again to the measly amount of songs in the game.
While it’s true the track selection leaves a lot to be desired, the game actually looks really good. Ubisoft did a nice job recreating Michael’s looks and video sets for each individual track, and getting to see Michael progress through the years is certainly something fans are going to really be happy with. The colors are vibrant, and the animations are crisp and smooth. Michael’s moves look great in motion, even if some songs repeat the same sequences over and over again. Though the Vita does have a decent set of speakers on-board, Michael Jackson The Experience is best played with headphones on. The sound mix is on point for the most part, and sounds much better coming from headphones than it does the tiny speakers on the Vita.
It’s tough bringing a dancing game to a portable system. Though Ubisoft’s attempt with Michael Jackson The Experience is an admirable one, the game just doesn’t have enough legs. Even without factoring in the $40 price of entry, the lack of content and replayability really hurts the overall product. It’s tough to recommend this title to even the most devout of MJ fans. You’re really better off sticking with the console version.
Release date : 2012-02-22
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
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