Things are slowed down in the MJ School, but oddly, it's entirely separate from Practice mode. It features a number of tutorial videos from dance instructors who run you through warm-ups, stretches, and moves from Michael's songs. Though the videos are well put together--breaking down each routine into simple, easy-to-follow steps--they can still be a little daunting if you're not blessed with much in the way of dancing skill because they all feature complex moves. Even if you never watch the videos and practice moves, songs are still a blast to perform, largely due to the quality of the material on offer, which includes famous routines from "Thriller," "Beat It," and "Billie Jean" as particular highlights. Other featured songs come from Michael's Motown days, and include "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." From the '80s, "Bad" and "Smooth Criminal" are available, as are more recent songs like "Ghost" and "Money."
Playing with friends instantly makes the game more fun--even if it's only because you're laughing at their poor dancing skills. Up to four players can get together for a dance in Versus or Cooperative modes but sadly not simultaneously: Each person must take it in turns when dancing because the game only recognizes one player at a time. Your friends are free to dance backup, but they won't be scored for their efforts. In Versus mode, each person performs a different section of the song, with the winner being the one with the most points at the end. Co-op is similar, though instead of competing, the points for both players are totaled up at the end for a combined score. Other than that, though, there's nothing else to do, which makes "The Experience" part of the title something of a misnomer. There are no music videos, no behind-the-scenes footage, no interviews, and no download store at which to acquire more tracks.
The visuals are similarly lackluster, with sparsely populated stadiums making up the vast majority of backdrops. Some songs fare a little better, featuring elements of music videos, with "Thriller's" spooky graveyard and flying bats capturing the Michael Jackson vibe. Sparkly visual effects help to liven things up a little, particularly when you gain a star and an explosion of glitter flows to Michael's famously gloved hand. The dancers look good as well, wearing costumes inspired by Michael's music videos. They're easy to follow, thanks to their bright-neon look, and because they're stylized video recordings of actual dancers, they move realistically too.
If you're at all self-conscious, this probably isn't the game for you.
Because it lacks a Career mode, unlockables, or even any music videos, this isn't so much an "experience" as it is a simplistic dance offering. Nevertheless, despite the bare-bones package, there's fun to be had performing the excellently choreographed dance routines, which accurately capture the Michael Jackson vibe. Most of his biggest hits are included, and lapsed fans will feel nostalgic seeing the classic moves and hearing the classic songs. While it might not set the world of dancing games on fire, Michael Jackson: The Experience is good for a dance or two, particularly if you're a fan of the king of pop.