Michael Jackson: The Experience (Hands-On) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 16.11.2010 2

Review for Michael Jackson: The Experience (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Trying to emulate the intricate dance moves found in the Wii version of Michael Jackson: The Experience on the humble Nintendo DS would be almost impossible given how diminutive the platform is and how there is no motion control set-up included. What it does have, though, is the still innovative touch- and dual-screen combination to give it the edge over other portable competitors. Therefore, Ubisoft Brazil has been enlisted to use the hardware as best as it can for this Michael Jackson rhythm title.

The majority of the recent Michael Jackson: The Experience event was focused on the Wii edition, but thankfully there was a small section of time set aside to sample the Nintendo DS version as well. There are three modes to choose from at the start: Tour, Jukebox and Collection. The first two came with a few Michael Jackson songs already unlocked, whilst Collection was literally a set of stands that highlighted whatever had been obtained from playing through the main Tour mode (in this case, nothing was there).

As with other popular music releases, a Jukebox was included where your favourite tracks could simply be played for entertainment purposes; basically a nice little added bonus. However, considering the tinny nature of Michael Jackson's voice due to the small DS speakers, blaring in low quality sound output, complete with a small polygonal representation of the singer jiving around in place of video footage (that would likely have taken up far too much space on the DS media card), the developer has tried to compensate by including some interactivity whereby players can make the on-screen model dance in whatever way they desire, using the various panels on the touch-screen to dictate the choreographed moves. In this mode, only Bad, Dangerous and Thriller were unlocked, whilst other tracks unlock as progress is made during Tour mode in the final product.

Screenshot for Michael Jackson: The Experience (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

For the preview version of Tour in this Nintendo DS version of Michael Jackson: The Experience, there was a choice of four tracks; Another Part of Me, Billie Jean, Heal the World, and Bad. Ubisoft claims that "Michael Jackson: The Experience on the Nintendo DS is the only touch-based interactive handheld video game experience that enables players to experience Michael Jackson’s unforgettable dance moves and epic performances.". Basically it plays like a cross between Taiko no Tatsujin and Elite Beat Agents...or even Disney's Stitch DS rhythm game. As the rotoscoped technology is being used on the top screen to portray a Michael Jackson model that moves as authentically as possible, with surprisingly precise choreography, all the while placed against iconic environments with special effects inspired by Michael Jackson’s famous stage shows and music videos, players tap away on the touch-screen to the likes of Beat It, Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough, Smooth Criminal, and Billie Jean, in order to achieve a new high score.

Watching as the on-screen number counts down, with a large radius ring growing smaller as the countdown continues, then tapping on the centre of the ball at exactly the right time is a skill in itself, with some long-term rhythm fans likely to find quite simple. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from, however, meaning that all levels of proficiency are catered for. Listening to the rhythm/tempo of each track is imperative, especially on harder songs, and players must slide objects along the screen in time with the beat. Ubisoft Brazil has attempted to make Michael Jackson: The Experience for Nintendo DS into one of the most accessible music-based titles on the portable and it has definitely appears to have managed to do that.

Screenshot for Michael Jackson: The Experience (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

With the focus squarely on the Wii version of Michael Jackson: The Experience, you really have to hope that the DS game does not get unfairly overlooked. Whilst the first impressions of this portable rhythm title left it looking inferior to games like Elite Beat Agents, it was only a small taste on the easiest mode available. The gameplay mechanic looks solid enough and perfectly in line with the few classics that have been released in this genre on Nintendo DS in the past. Therefore, keep a close eye on this when the reviews start coming in; do not write it off just quite yet.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date TBA   North America release date TBA   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   


I'm intrigued to try out the final version since it definitely looks like a game with lots of potential, yet the tiny taste I had was very limited, leaving it looking like a poor man's Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan/Taiko no Tatsujin...

Anyone keen to pick this version up over the Wii one?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I'm going for the DS version, as I'm waiting for the PS3 Move version for my big-screen MJ fix...mainly because there's proper karaoke stuff in there as well as the dancing, and it's more likely to be supported by DLC (not sure if they're planning that or not yet, though).

Love me some Ouendan, so looking forward to this!

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