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Michael Jackson: The Experience on Kinect is very different to the Wii and PS3 version. Controller-less dancing is not without its hitches but the freedom of movement it creates feels more than worth it.
As you will remember, my family have really enjoyed the Just Dance games. When my wife realised that the new Michael Jackson dance game was from the same people she was really keen to try it out.
Rather than opt for the Wii version though, I wanted to mix things up. Michael Jackson: The Experience is available on pretty much all platforms from the DS to Kinect and Move editions. I have been looking for a good Kinect dance game, after finding the launch titles (Dance Central, Dance Paradise and Dance Masters) too complex or demanding for our family, so I decided to go for the 360 version.
While the PS3 and Wii version of the game are essentially the classic Just Dance formula with different dances, the Kinect game is entirely new. It follows a similar structure to the Just Dance games but uses the Kinect camera.
A big novelty here is that it puts a moving image of you on the screen. I have to say that seeing our kids projected into videogame land was very cute. The camera did a good job of identifying just their outline even in our cluttered lounge.
Being on screen was a real motivation to put more energy into their moves.
Being on screen was a real motivation for them to put more energy and effort into their moves. On Just Dance, the older ones have realised that actually flicking the controller at the right time works just as well as really doing the moves. The Kinect version does away with all this because it can see exactly what each dancer is going.
These benefits do come at a bit of a cost though. You really can't have toddlers and infants running around in front of the Kinect controller because it just confuses it -- not surprisingly. We ended up playing the game with the older kids (5 and 7) when the others were busy doing something else.
Also you can only play the game one person at a time. Although the box says the game has 2-4 player cooperative play this is in a turn taking fashion -- which to my mind is stretching things a bit. A real co-operative mode needs to be simultaneous.
Feels like you are playing a videogame from the future.
These gripes aside though, there is a very accessible dancing game here. For anyone not looking to become a hard-core dancer this is easily the best Kinect offering to date. You can also use the Microphones from Lips to sing along with some tracks.
After the novelty of control-free games has worn off a little it's really good to see third parties investing time and development in an experience tailored to the Kinect camera. Sure, the menus may be fiddly and the gameplay fussier, but this still feels like you are playing a videogame from the future.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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