SLIDESHOW

Michael Jackson's 9 Greatest Video Game Moments

These nine moments are the ones that we'll always look back on most fondly when remembering Michael Jackson.

Moonwalk through Michael's Greatest Moments in Video Games

Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, was more than a musical icon and international entertainer. At heart, he was really just a big goofy kid who liked video games as much as he liked music. Sit back as we Moonwalk through Michael's greatest moments in video games, from Thriller references to one of the best arcade games in history.

Few people were as gifted as Michael Jackson: millions of records sold, pet tigers in his backyard, the flashiest clothes ever made, billions of adoring fans and arguably the best video game collection on the face of the planet. He had it all. MJ was so famous, he could be seen across multiple industries, and the gaming world was no exception. These nine moments are the ones that we'll always look back most fondly in Michael Jackson's memory.

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#9: Final Fantasy: "Thriller"

While no one really liked the lackluster CG film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within that much, this hilarious Easter Egg proved to be more fun than the movie itself. (It's in the Highlights section, so it wasn't really hidden.) In fact, we suspect that the whole FF film could have been thrown out if they just replaced everything with MJ references.

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#8: Plants vs. Zombies

While the idea behind Plants vs. Zombies was already hilarious, the addition of this MJ reference made us realize one thing: every zombie game should give you the ability to don Michael Jackson's iconic red leather and dancing shoes. This was a concept sadly missing from Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Hopefully, the next Resident Evil will catch on.

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#7: World of Warcraft (Moonwalk)

In the World of Warcraft, the Night Elves have it all. They've got the best special loot, the best outfits and the most polished character designs. But it doesn't stop there. If you're lucky enough to be a male Night Elf, you've pretty much got a license to Moonwalk through every raid and quest. Yep, no other race can emulate the trademark Billie Jean moves that come with the Night Elf's footwork, and it just looks so slick, you'll want to build a new character solely for dance parties. Yow!

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#6: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

No song represents the 1980s better than Billie Jean, and Rockstar's tribute to that golden time period hit a high note with the inclusion of Michael Jackson's treasured hit single. With Grand Theft Auto, you didn't always need to be causing havoc and mayhem. Sometimes, you could just cruise though the night in Vice City, listing to the immortal MJ in one of his best performances ever.

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#5: Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2

OK, so Michael Jackson probably couldn't beat anyone in a real boxing match, but his stellar cameo in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 showed that the King of Pop could easily be the virtual King of the Ring. MJ wasn't the only celebrity on hand for this fun bout of fisticuffs, though. You could also reach the top with Shaq and the Clintons, although no one could resist Michael's winning victory dances.

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#4: Space Channel 5/Space Channel 5: Part 2

What better fit for Michael Jackson is there than a Sega game that uses dancing to defeat invading aliens (well, a Captain EO game would be nice)? Space Channel 5 proved to be a worthy tribute to the King of Pop, as his dance moves made it to the game intact and in style. Hopefully, a future addition with Space Channel 5: Part 3 (we hope) will bring "Space Michael" back to the dance floor.

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#3: Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Ending)/Sonic and the Secret Rings (Moonwalk)

"Stranger in Moscow" is one of Michael Jackson's latest and greatest singles, but what some people don't know is that it's rumored to have originated from the soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, specifically the ending theme in the game's finale. You can literally listen to the two songs side by side and see where MJ's inspiration came from. Or, maybe Sonic 3's theme came from Michael himself. He's rumored to have been originally set to compose for that classic Genesis title. Weird!

(Oh, did we mention that in Sega's Sonic and the Secret Rings, you can actually do the Moonwalk by tilting back on the Wii Remote?)

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#2: Guitar Hero World Tour ("Beat It")

You can tweak the clothing all you want to look like Michael Jackson's various outfits, but the only official MJ part of the Guitar Hero series is the iconic "Beat It" single. Now that the King of Pop has passed away, we can only hope that he'll continue to live on though the best guitar-based franchises around, Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Personally, our first picks would be "Smooth Criminal" and "Dirty Diana". Heck, we'd even like some "Torture" from the Jackson 5. That would be epic.

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#1: Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

By leaps and bounds, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker was one of the slickest arcade games to hit gamers in 1990. Every time I try to describe the movie that the game is based on, the most common phrase I use is "Michael Jackson turns into a giant robot/spaceship and kills Joe Pesci." Unlike the console and computer versions, which suffered from poor level design and weird gameplay, the arcade version was a true diamond in the rough. Played from a slanted, top-down perspective, this beat-'em-up tasked MJ with taking out gangsters and hitmen in his quest to save his kid friends from drug lord "Mr. Big".

As crazy as the premise sounded, Moonwalker had style to match the wacky theme. Michael beat down bad guys with flashy dance moves straight from his "Billie Jean" and "Smooth Criminal" steps, and he could even transform into a robotic, super version of himself when things got dangerous. By far, the best part of the game was Michael's screen-filling dance numbers, which forced every baddie on screen to dance along and get rocked by magic explosions.

I remember the first time I ever played this game, which was on a summer trip to Las Vegas with my dad, mom and my sister. We stopped in a casino for a respite from the hot summer sun, and I could faintly hear a strange version of "Smooth Criminal" coming from one of the kiddie areas. Running towards the music, I frantically searched my pocket for quarters when I saw the Moonwalker arcade cabinet, and temporarily lived out the best 10 minutes of my young life. After all these years, I still remember the game as fondly as I did when I was little.

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