Michael Jackson is coming to the video game world


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French video game publisher Ubisoft revealed at a pre-E3 news conference on Monday that it is producing a new music and rhythm video game featuring Michael Jackson.

Ubisoft’s deal with the Jackson estate will allow it to include a number of the star’s most famous titles. Two announced Monday were ‘Beat It’ and ‘Billie Jean.’


The untitled game, which is scheduled to come out this year, will allow players to learn and copy some of Jackson’s most famous dance moves, as well as sing along as they already do in games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

The game will be available on every console and will take advantage of Microsoft’s new Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360, which tracks users’ movements and will undoubtedly be used for gaming elements.

Sony Music is expected to release an album of unreleased Jackson material in November, and it’s quite possible the game will come out simultaneously as part of a unified marketing push.

It marks a return to the video game world for Jackson, who was the star of the Sega console and arcade game “Moonwalker,” which was based on the 1988 film of the same name. In the game, Jackson used his trademark dance moves to defeat enemies and rescue children. Songs such as “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” were given digitized makeovers for the game, and Jackson’s pet chimp Bubbles was utilized as a power-up to give the Jackson character special abilities.

It has been widely expected that the Jackson estate would make a deal with a video game publisher since last year, following in the footsteps of The Beatles: Rock Band, though that game wasn’t as big a seller as those involved had hoped.

-- Ben Fritz and Todd Martens