The story, which is taken from the Moonwalker film, follows Michael, using various music and dance related abilities, on a quest to save kidnapped children from the hands of the evil "Mr. Big". The games incorporated synthesized versions of the musician's hits, such as "Beat It" and "Smooth Criminal".
Home versions of the game were released for Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis and Master System home video game systems, as well as the Sega Game Gear handheld system, though the gameplay was completely different from the arcade version. A version has also been rated by PEGI for an upcoming release on Virtual Console., but no confirmation of which version. The home console versions of the game were actually based on an evolved version of the home computer version of the game (with gameplay somewhat similar to the Shinobi series), in contrast to the arcade version which was a three-quarters view shooter/fighter type game. The game involved the player controlling the pop star in a quest to save all the kids that had been kidnapped by Mr. Big. In the arcade version, Katie was one of three types of children who could be rescued, in the home version, all of the captive children are young blond girls termed "Katies", although Zeke appears in the end sequence.
The game's levels and music were borrowed from the film (though many of the music tracks were taken from Jackson's Thriller album as well) and the player had the ability to destroy enemies by making them dance. In the console game Michael could become a robot by rescuing a certain child first, and then grabbing a comet that fell from the sky. In the arcade version, Michael became a robot by rescuing his chimp pal Bubbles. The arcade version also had the novel feature of three simultaneous players (each controlling Jackson's character in a different-colored "Smooth Criminal" outfit).
The gameplay is focused on finding children, all of whom resemble Katie from the movie, which are scattered throughout the level, some behind certain objects such as doors. Most of the objects are empty or contain enemies. In contrast to the arcade version, Michael's moves more closely resemble his trademark dancing moves. For example, the standard attack is a stylized high kick that is commonly incorporated into his dance routines. If the player continues to hold the kick button, and moves michael backwards, he performs Michael's signature Moonwalk dance move. The player has combination health/ability bar. One button will allow Michael to spin, being invulnerable in the process. However, this spin move will slowly lose health. If the spin is held for more than two seconds, Michael will throw his hat in a fashion of a boomerang which will destroy most enemies. The longer the spin move is held, the wider distance that the fedora will cover. If held down long enough, a dance magic scene similar to the arcade version would play, featuring dance moves taken from the film clips of whatever song is playing in the background. Michael can also use the magic to slide down banisters and eliminate multiple enemies in the process. In certain levels, a shooting star may appear which temporarily transforms Micheal into a cyborg that can attack enemies with various artillery, though cannot collect children. Almost every stage has three levels, designated in Super Mario Bros. fashion as X-1, X-2, X-3. However, the final level of the Mega Drive/Sega Genesis version was a first person "flight sim" type battle between Michael (now transformed into a space ship) and Mr. Big's ship.
Source: Wikipedia, "Michael Jackson's Moonwalker", available under the CC-BY-SA License.