Unless you're picking up this transmission from the bottom of a very deep well, I'm sure you're aware that pop star Michael Jackson died of heart failure today. But the Gloved One was more than just a great singer, songwriter and dancer, he contributed to the video game world as well. While not exactly the King of Gaming, Jackson was interested enough in the art form to make some notable video game appearances.
The most well-known Jackson game is Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. It was made by Sega and released in arcades in 1990. The isometric beat-em-up featured Jackson as the main character, using magic to rescue children from evil men in trench coats. Jackson's special attack in the game was called Dance Magic and involved Jackson bustin' one of his patented moves. This killed all the bad guys onscreen. I'm not sure why. Bubbles the chimp also showed up in the game and turned Michael Jackson into a robot. I'm not sure why this happened either. A different version of Moonwalker was eventually released on Sega home systems as well, and was a pretty good (if weird) game.
Jackson appeared in totally incredible and influential dance video games Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5 on the Dreamcast and PS2. He played Space Michael, and had a pretty sizable role in the second game. It looked like this:
Jackson's involvement in Space Channel 5 was self-initiated. According to an interview with series creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi in EGM magazine: "We were in the middle of production of Space Channel 5, in 1998 or 1999. I got a call from the U.S. from my partner - the executive producer of Space Channel 5 - and he said, 'Oh, Michael wants to act in Space Channel 5.' I said, 'Who's Michael?' 'Who is Michael Jackson?' he said, 'The Michael Jackson - the real Michael Jackson.'"
Jackson was an unlockable "gimmick" character in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2, and his production company was reportedly working on a PS3, PC and 360 video game as well. Sadly, I doubt we'll get a chance to see it.