Moonwalker is broken up into 4 levels. The first level has you walking around avoiding fans trying to find parts of a rabbit costume needed to disguise yourself from your fans. You then need to find the waiting motorbike to escape to level 2 - Michaelsville. Here you need to find orbs which transform your bike into the glittering Stratus car able to leap barriers. If you get far enough you escape via a jetski. Level 3 has you defending yourself in Club 30 against Mr Big's task force. And the final level has you in an arena fighting Mr Big's Storm Troopers and plasma cannon as Moonwalker himself - survive and save the children.
When I think back to the PC games of the 80's, my nose tends to wrinkle involuntarily as images of horrible arcade games flash before my eyes. While the 80's gave us some real classics like the Leisure Suit Larry series, it also gave us plenty of big stinkers. Which one is Moonwalker? I'm afraid it's the latter.
With the passing of Michael Jackson, it seemed fitting to review this game and put it on our site but to my disappointment, the PC version of the game was completely different from the Genesis version which was quite good. I was hoping to discover a lost gem but what I uncovered was something that should probably remain buried …
The game is split up in 4 parts: a part where you got to collect pieces of a bunny outfit, another part where you, for some odd reason, drive a motorcycle and collect orbs, another part where you run around in a bar shooting at villains and a part where you are a robot and … shoot at villains. And yes, it's as weak as it sounds.
The third part is arguable the best but all parts really suffer from the same mistakes. The first two have a strict time limit which is impossible to beat. As if that wasn't bad enough, you got 20 lives (yes, TWENTY) but you'll need them across the whole game and there's not a single way to recover any of them. You may think “well that's quite a lot, isn't it?” but you'd be wrong. I actually beat the game by cheating: I use a program called Game Wizard Pro to freeze my lives. I must have died 300 times before I beat the game so, no, 20 lives is not enough. If you read around the net, you'll find that almost no-one has completed this game fairly which says it all really.
In the first part, you run around a maze-like city being chased by fans while having to orientate yourself on a Defender-like mini-map situated at the bottom of your screen. You only see items and opponents on this map and not the actual street layout which can get really frustrating because the city is designed in such a way that you often need to take a big detour to get where you need to be. Heck, it doesn't get any better so let's get it over with: you need to pick up items in a specific order, if you die you get moved all the way back to the start of the city, collision detection is terrible so you often die even if you didn't get hit, you can't defend yourself in any way except by running away and if you move south you see less off what is ahead than if you were to move north (you can see this in the screenshots - Michael isn't centered on the screen). Saving graces? None. It's frustrating, unfair, unbalanced and tedious.
When I finally made it through, I was hoping for an action sequence but no, it was more of the same but this time I was on a bike instead of on foot. All the same problems apply except they divided it in 4 parts and you had to collect all orbs in each part before you could go on to the next one. They actually managed to make this part worse than the first because, after you collect all orbs, you transform into a car and then have to drive to a certain area without getting hit. If you DO get hit (which will often be the case) you … have to start all over again.
After this terrible part, we come to the more interesting part: the bar. You got a gazillion windows and out of each window, an enemy appears now and then to take pot shots at you. You run in circles around the bar, picking up a gun and ammo to shoot back. When you have killed 30 enemies, you move on to the next part. This could have been great but they messed up here as well. Because each clip you pick up lasts about 2 seconds, you can take down 2-3 enemies with a single clip at most. If you can count, that means 15+ clips to get the job done and trust me, you'll die plenty of times running around to find the clip (there's only one clip at a time in the entire bar). While there's no actual time limit, the poor control method really lets this part down. The moment you aim (holding the fire key and moving the cursor keys), you start shooting before you actually aim at your opponents, wasting valuable ammo. If they had given you a second fire button, it may have actually made this part quite fun! But they didn't. So it's not. Let's move on.
The last part is a simpler version of the third one: you no longer run around or pick up ammo and you can't run out either so I consider that an improvement. Personally, this is my favorite part because it has the least flaws: you are a robot and can't move but have to shoot at enemies appearing on balconies. Kill X enemies and you win! Occasionally, a laser appears but if you're quick and shoot it, it won't hit you. Still, even this part is not perfect. You need at least 6-7 lives to get through this part (even if you kill enemies as fast as you can) because you'll take damage no matter what you do. If you didn't cheat like I did, it's very unlikely you had that many left if you ever made it that far. And to make it worse: if you do manage to get through, all you get is a “congratulations you have finished moonwalker” message.
So what about the graphics and music? For a 1989 game, the graphics are pretty poor - the first two sections are terrible really and while the cut scenes are not that bad, it feels like a rushed job. The third part is the best looking by far and it shows what was possible - why they didn't devote as much attention to the rest of the game is beyond me.
The music was the obvious high point of the movie Moonwalker and here, the game lets down as well. Offering only basic PC speaker and only a few songs (most of which are really not that well converted anyway), they could have easily left it out.
If the entire review wasn't clear enough: don't play this. It's frustrating, unfair, painful, repetitive, pointless, shallow and … well, just plain crap.
- cycles: 1000-1500 - any more than that and you may run into speed issues.
Moonwalker is a typical movie-licensed title with various different action levels, although it's quite unique in a sense that it's based on a musical movie-- starring Michael Jackson, no less. The game has 4 levels, each with different style of play and follows the movie's plot quite closely (i.e. defeat Mr. Big to save the children). The first level has you walking around, trying to find parts of a rabbit costume needed to disguise yourself from your fans. You then need to find a motorbike to escape to level 2 - Michaelsville. Here, you need to find orbs which transform your bike into the glittering Stratus car that can leap over barriers. Level 3 has you defending yourself in Club 30 against Mr Big's task force. And the final level has you in an arena fighting Mr Big's Storm Troopers and plasma cannon as Moonwalker himself.
Moonwalker features cool animated intros at the beginning of each level, all recognizable from the movie. Level 3 and 4 are undoubtedly the best part of the game, although you'll have to suffer through very boring and frustrating levels 1 and 2 to get there. The first two levels are frustrating because you aren't given any weapons-- all you can do is avoid fans and obstacles. Although you start out with 20 lives, you'll find that they'll dwindle down very quickly. Two of Michael Jackson's songs have been included in the game, and they are recognizable even on PC speaker and aren't very irritating (although you can turn them off). Overall, this is a decent movie translation, although most people will likely get fed up with Levels 1 and 2 and give up trying to get to the (much better) second half.
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