Whenever you need me, I'll be there

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SMOOTH criminal Wacko Jacko has found yet another way to be seen in public without having to leave his oxygen tent. Moonwalker has been a book, a film, a T-shirt, a cuddly toy, a type of dance and now my Emerald Isle homeland has produced a twin disc game.

There are four stages, two viewed from above and two from the side. Each stage is preceded by a good animated sequence and accompanied by short repeating sections of sampled MJ music. A bit like the video really.

The first stage reminds me of my long standing all-time favourite game, Rally-X. Jacko walks around the detailed landscape ina small scrolling window trying to collect parts of his rabbit suit, avoiding the over-zealous attentions of numerous fans.

The next stage adds a motorbike and the occasional flattened pedestrian. Don't stop until you get enough green shiny orbs. Then you can transform into a car and jump over a roadblock.

Game three, and Jacko is clad in white suit, armed with a vicious line in automatic firearms. Sideways scrolling displays the interior of a gaming club where there ain't no sunshine when you're gone.

Making sure the baddies have been blown off the wall is the only way to beat it. When you use all the ammo, more has got to be there when you need it, or its bad news all round.

The final stage is the real thriller. Our heroic plasticised young thing transforms yet again, this time into a robot with which you don't wanna be starting something. You have to convince some nasty kidnapper about the way your young girlfriend makes you feel or she's out of your life and it's farewell, my summer love, for ever.

You will certainly spend more than one day of your life playing this game. The stages are sufficiently different to provide interest and sufficiently tough to make it last. The graphics and animations provide the grab factor and if you are a Jackson fan the sampled music will come as an added bonus.

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US GOLD £24.99 * Joystick or keyboard

There have been many games based on films but here it is not so much based on a film as a person: Michael Jackson. His name has hardly ever been out of the papers or the charts during the '80s, but can this popular singing star be transformed into a good computer game?

The game is split into four sections, all of which are featured in the film, of course. In the first, Michael is at the film studios being chased by his fans and has to find a disguise and then escape on a motorbike. The disguise is a rabbit suit, the parts of which have to be picked up in the correct order: feet first, head last. There are also four pieces of equipment - a camera, a microphone, a spotlight and a key - to be found.

MJ can walk or run around the studio 'lot', which is viewed from overhead and has a scanner showing the fans and objects on it. You can only run for short periods though, so save it for escaping from tight spots. If Mikey gets caught by a fan he loses a platinum disc: no discs and it is game over. There is also a time limit.

The first section is relatively simple once you have learnt the map, so it is quickly on to Stage Two. Now you are the rabbit on the bike, racing round the city trying to collect orbs and destroy drugs. It is viewed from above again with a similar collection of fans and troopers chasing Michael about.

There are four lots of orbs to collect, and when the last orb of each set is collected the bike transforms into the Stratos car and you have to leap over a barrier to the next area. In the last of the four areas the bike becomes a jet bike, grabbing the orbs from the water.

Now it is on to the Club '30s nightclub where gunmen appear at the windows and try to shoot you. A gun and bullets are to be found lying around, so you can fight back. Supplies of bullets have to be continually picked up from the random places around the club where they are left. If MJ can get through this there is a final confrontation with the bad guys where he turns into a robot to blast guards and a laser cannon.


At the beginning of the game and in between each of the sections, there are some superb animated action screens. The game screens are not as good: the first two levels look very plain, but the last two are more detailed and more interesting. Samples of Michael's music run throughout the game. They sound fine but are on the repetitive side: constraints of memory one presumes.


None of the four sections stands out particularly as being a great game, but all four are enjoyable. As a package it will take some time to complete and provide a fair deal of entertainment. Its main problem is that there is no particular 'high' in gameplay terms. There is a lot of good things, but nothing great.

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Irgendwann mußte es ja kommen - nun ist es soweit: Michael Jackson hat sein eigenes Computerspiel! Laut Werbung "ein Spiel wie kein anderes", bei näherer Betrachtung eher eins wie allzuviele...

"Moonwalker - The Movie" war eigentlich nur ein zu lang geratener Videoclip mit einer kindischen Story, einzig der Soundtrack bewahrte das Ding vor dem Totalen Flop. Das hat U.S. Gold aber nicht davon abhalten können, jetzt eine Umsetzung für den Amiga herauszubringen.

Programmiert wurde das Game von Emerald Software, also den Jungs, die uns das ziemlich mittelprächtige "The Deep" beschert haben. Nach kurzem Laden und einem nett gemachten Vorspann beginnt der Auftritt des großen Meisters:

Der viel zu kleine Screen zeigt einen winzigen Punkt (Michael aus der Vogelperspektive), der in einer labyrinth-artigen Dachlandschaft elf Gegenstände einsammeln muß - unter anderem die Einzelteile eines Kaninchen-kostüms, das er braucht, um nach Michaelsville zu hoppeln (hat der Kerl etwa schon 'ne eigene Stadt!? Zuzutrauen wär's ihm ja!).

Standesgemäß wird unser Superstar dabei von aggressiven Fans und Reportern bedrängt, die ihm seine Platinscheiben abjagen wollen, und er kann sich nicht mal wehren: der Feuerknopf dient hier nur zum schnelleren Laufen!

Anzeigen für Score, Zeit, verbliebene Edelmetallscheiben und gesammelte Gegenstände, sowie ein Radarschirm zur besseren Ortung der beute-gierigen Groupies sind unter, beziehungsweise neben dem Screen.

Die weiteren Level bringen auch nichts wesentlich anderes (oder gar besseres), daher nur ganz kurz: Der zweite Spielabschnitt ist eine getreue Kopie des ersten, nur 'ne Ecke schneller (der Punkt fährt jetzt Motorrad). Im dritten darf im "Club 30" geklettert werden. Nummer vier konfrontiert den Helden mit den Truppen des Drogendealers "Mr Big".

Was das Spiel so unbefriedigend macht, ist das von Anfang bis Ende unfaire Gameplay (z.B. gibt es in den verschiedenen Sackgassen der ersten Level kaum Ausweichmöglichkeiten), des weiteren die unsäglich langweilige Gestaltung des ohnehin schlichten Spielprinzips (run, rabbit run!) und schließlich die fehlende Abwechslung: Nicht nur, daß praktisch jeder Level gleich aussieht und dieselbe Handlung hat, nein, selbst der Sound besteht nur aus kurzen Digi-Samples, die sich ständig wiederholen.

Grafisch entspricht das Game übrigens weitgehend der C 64-Version, selbst die elende Ruckelei wurde originalgetreu rüber gebracht! Zum Schluß das Positive: Zwischen den Leveln gibt's nette Parts aus dem Film - retten kann das das Spiel allerdings auch nicht mehr! (mm)

Moonwalker logo

US Gold
Price: £24.99

Michael J. seems to have done rather well for himself. After all, is it that wacko earns over sixty million a year? This should be enough to tell us that Moonwalker, the movie, was not made for financial gain, but more likely as an ego trip.

The first level finds Michael trapped on a movie set being pursued by hordes of fans. His only means of escape is to disguise himself as a rabbit. En route Michael must also collect film equipment and run over packets of drugs left behind by the evil Drug Baron.

Next MJ has to collect crystals in order to transform himself in a super powered sports car. Another maze section follows, also featuring small, not particularly imaginative, graphics.

Stage Three is the famous Thirties night club (as featured in the Smooth Criminal video). Now Michael has to collect a gun and seriously mess with the bad guys. As they appear at the windows they have to be shot. At the end of this level the Drug Baron kidnaps Michael's friend Katy and runs into the next level.

Finally Michael transforms into a robot for the final face off with the Drug Baron. This time he is up against a small army of hoodlums and the Baron's massive laser cannon. If he survives all that, Michael transforms once more and whisks off into the sunset.

Each level is accompanied by nice, if some what repetitive, samples from the album - one feature which helps to save the game, whilst between each section is a short animated cartoon sequence outlining the plot. They are so well done though, that they tend to over-shadow the levels themselves.

Licensing a film like Moonwalker would have been a big, not to mention expensive, risk for anybody. And US Gold have done surprisingly well considering the overall limited scope for a game, and the legal restraints from Jackson's lawyer. They insisted for instance, that the graphics in one scene to be changed: Michael is very proud of the fact that he can move about on tip toes, so the Jackson estate made sure that this remarkable events was captured on the software.

My overall impression of the game is that it is limited. The first two sections are almost identical, while the last two follow very similar lines.

This will go done well with fans of the film and the artist, but for the rest of us, it is a miss.

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US Gold/ST & Amiga £24.99

Atari ST reviewAmiga review Sean: Whacko Jacko, man of plastic, returns in yet another incarnation. This time it's in the form of Moonwalker: The Computer Game, which is based on several incidents from the movie.

Following the usual film-tie in trend, several of the film's incidents are converted into four mini games. The first and second levels being 'dodge the enemies' and 'collect the goodies' games, the third and fourth being two more Operation Wolf variations to add to the growing piles.

There are some good demo-style sequences but these don't enhance the actual gameplay in any way. The graphics aren't outstanding; the sound on the Amiga version includes catchy samples from Bad, and the ST has tunes mangled through the internal soundchip which sound horrible.

The trouble is that whilst I am sure that Moonwalker will be a great success on the 8-bit formats, it's just not a 16-bit game. The third level, set in the Club 30s, is the best of the lot, as it's fairly addictive. IN the other three, there's not really enough to do and the boredom factor creeps in. Highly polished and well programmed but ultimately boring.

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US Gold, US Gold, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

America, 'land of the free, home of the weird' as the Statue of Liberty says at one point in the movie. Possibly the world's weirdest rock star starts his adventure in The Studios, the scene of the Speed Demon video when Michael is pursued by a mob of Claymation fans.

To escape, he must disguise himself as a rabbit and roar off on a motorbike. The Studios are represented by an overhead view of a smoothly scrolling maze infested with such Jackson fans as the Granny, Cowboy and Biff brothers. There are seven pieces of the suit to be found, from shoes to rabbit head, which must be collected in the correct order. A camera, microphone, spotlight, and key are also to be picked up and Michael must run over any packets of drugs he finds. If a fan catches him, Michael must give away one of his silver discs - which are also lost if Michael is shot(!).

The next level is The City, where the rabbit-disguised Jackson zooms about trying to avoid fans and Mr Big's armed henchmen. Michael must find ten orbs to transform into the fabulous Stratos rocket car which can smash through roadblocks. Despite our hero being 'very anti-violence' you must run over the henchmen, turning them into an ugly red stain on the pavement. Once the last orb has been collected, Michael turns into the car, with a limited amount of time to smash through the roadblock. This level is repeated four times, with different mazes and vehicles.

Club 30s is where Jacko must shoot a set number of villains dotted around the horizontally scrolling night club, while dodging the bullets and collecting ammunition. At the end of this level one of Micheal's friends is captured leading him to...

...The Arena. Now Mr 'anti-violence' starts massacring people by the dozen. After transforming into a robot Micheal revolves around in the arena, moving a cursor to aim his guns. While blasting the henchmen as they appear, Michael must watch out for a plasma cannon which pokes its massive nose in from time to time.

Robin Hogg It's very strange how the press release for Moonwalker mentions the non-violence aspect of the game and immediately contradicts itself with guards getting squashed by mad rabbits on motorbikes and mass carnage on the later levels! The first level isn't an unique concept, that's for sure, and is immediately followed up by yet more of the same - total overkill which (while playable) quickly begins to try your patience. Later levels are better, but they're too late to fully make up for the early stages.
Stuart Wynne Both versions of this are quite slickly presented, the Amiga having some neat intro sequences and the C64 replicating Amiga gameplay and in-game graphics very well indeed. The final two loads are both above-average shoot-'em-ups which are good fun. The first maze level isn't bad either, but the similar four-maze level two is irritating - especially as it's pretty difficult. The C64 version is further handicapped by being four lengthy loads with no continue-plays option. But generally, these are two professionally done programmes based on a difficult subject.