DID YOU READ

Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii

Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii (photo)

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While they’re perpetuating popular hardcore franchises like “Splinter Cell” and “Assassins’ Creed” on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Ubisoft’s quietly established a successful micro-niche of choreography dance games on the Wii. “Just Dance”–the first of these games–emerged as a best-seller when it came out last year and followed by “Dance on Broadway” this year, which gave players the chance to do routines from classic musicals “Guys & Dolls” and “Hair.” Now those titles are being joined by “Michael Jackson The Experience.”

The game lets players dance (and sing, in the PS3 and Xbox versions) to the late superstar’s choreography. I had a chance to check out the Wii version of “MJTE,” the baby brother of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 offerings. Those games have been delayed, leaving the Wii game the only one still scheduled to arrive this holiday. (There’s also a handheld version on the Nintendo DS, which plays very similarly to the 2006 hit “Elite Beat Agents”.) The Microsoft and Sony versions of the MJ game use those companies’ Kinect and Playstation Move motion gaming hardware, while “MJ” Wii uses the standard remote. In each case, your movements are tracked to see where they match up with the on-screen movements, Where “Just Dance” and “Dance on Broadway ” have gentler interpretations of playable footwork, the Micheal Jackson game takes none of the complexity away from the Gloved One’s moves.

The King of Pop gets a weird, slightly fantastic visual interpretation in the video game memorial. There’s no other way to put than to say that he doesn’t quite have a face. In some songs, he’s the Afro-sporting, bell bottoms-rocking dancing machine of the J5 years, only slightly grown up. In others, his skin color’s the light-skinned beige of his later years. In none of them does he have a nose (any of his noses) or a mouth. Ubisoft says that this decision is meant to let players more easily think of themselves as Michael Jackson, but it has the odd effect of only reminding you just how bizarre he wound up looking before he died.

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Still, one cool corollary to making Jackson’s discography playable is that Ubisoft’s made videos for songs that never had them. The Afro MJ that I mention above was dancing through “Workin’ Day and Night,” from the 1978 album “Off The Wall” Never mind that MJ had aged out of the J5 attire by the time the album was released, the creative license here offered by the game in these instances is still fascinating. In such cases, the steps in the game’s new music videos have been created with the help of choreographers who worked with Jackson.

As far as the music itself, six tracks have been announced already. Nothing further on the track listing or whether there will be downloadable content for the game has been made public. Here’s what out there so far:

• Bad
• Beat It
• Billie Jean
• Black or White
• Earth Song
• Smooth Criminal
• The Girl Is Mine
• They Don’t Care About Us
• Who Is It
• Workin’ Day And Night

If you’re in New York City this weekend, you’ll be able to try out these songs this weekend at New York Comic-Con. Look for Ubisoft at booth #1617 at the Jacob Javits Center. The Wii version of “Michael Jackson The Experience” will be in stores on November 23rd and the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions should be out early next year.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.