Michael Jackson fantasies play out on Xbox - PS3

Michael Jackson fans will get to show off how well they sing and dance like the King of Pop in videogames crafted by Ubisoft for play on Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles.

The French videogame titan on Tuesday will release versions of "Michael Jackson: The Experience" that tap into motion and voice sensing capabilities of popular Kinect and Move accessories for the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively.

Ubisoft has sold about three million copies of a version of the game released in late November for play on Nintendo Wii consoles.

"The Move is a platform dying for an awesome dance game and we already know it works on the Kinect," Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key told AFP. "The timing is great."

"Michael Jackson: The Experience" take advantage of camera, voice and gesture-tracking capabilities of Kinect controllers for Xbox 360 consoles to track how well players are imitating the late music legend's moves.

The game features Ubisoft technology that projects players into on-screen scenes inspired by Jackson's live performances and music videos including his famous "Thriller" work.

Kinect players are represented by animated characters that mirror their appearances and movements.

"You actually see yourself moving and your goal is to follow along with the backup dancers," Key said. "You can see your hair flitting, what you are wearing - all of that."

Move player actions are tracked with the help of handheld wands, and dance steps executed by on-screen characters. Ubisoft tailored software to each game system's strengths.

Unlike game play on the Wii, "Michael Jackson: The Experience" on the Kinect and Move combines singing the late artist's hit songs with matching his trademark choreography.

"Michael Jackson had an awesome voice and was able to sing and dance like no other artist ever," Key said. "This is about stepping into those shoes and trying to emulate him as much as possible."

Ubisoft has been a longtime believer in motion controls for videogames and the potential for 3-D cameras to immerse players in the on-screen action.

The firm seized the opportunity to work with Nintendo on titles tailored for the Wii and had action videogame "Red Steel" ready when the innovative motion-controlled consoles launched in late 2006.

Ubisoft finished 2010 as the top third-party developer for Kinect, which lets people play with no hand-held controllers at all and even recognizes faces and voice commands.

Microsoft reports having sold more than 10 million Kinects, while Ubisoft claims about 19 percent of the market of videogames for the Xbox 360 accessory that debuted in November.

Ubisoft is also in tune with the hot dance game genre, with its title's representing about 80 percent of that type of play on Wii consoles.

"The dance category for us has been a huge win," Key said.

"We created a reason for people to dance in their living rooms," he continued. "This always turns out to be a great time for anybody who is in the house - we really touched a nerve."

An Ubisoft page at social networking service Facebook featured an abundance of dance game stories and videos posted by players.

"More and more, the dance category is becoming a story that consumers are telling for us," Key said. "How many videogames have people posting videos of themselves playing?"

"Michael Jackson: The Experience" will be priced at $49.99 when it becomes available in the United States on Tuesday. The game will be released in Europe two days later.

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