Michael Jackson's Moonwalker is a side-scroller released for the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis, loosely based on the film of the same name. An arcade release running on the Mega-Tech (Mega Drive-based) hardware was later released and despite the identical name, was an entirely different game from the System 18-based Michael Jackson's Moonwalker arcade game that had been released beforehand.
Moonwalker puts players in the shoes of Michael Jackson, tasked to rescue children who had been kidnapped by Mr. Big and his army of mobsters, vicious dobermans, and zombies. To rescue the kids, Michael takes on the army of criminals with his dancing repertoire and theatrical magic.
Hitting the attack button causes Michael to send out a fly kick, or throw up his arms in an exaggerated dance fashion. Each of these attacks would send out a burst of magic sparks that extend the range of the strike. Enemies struck by the magic will violently ricochet off the screen before collapsing (akin to the way enemies would go flying in Battletoads ).
Michael could also use two special attacks to defeat enemies when overwhelmed. Lightly pressing the special attack button would cause Michael to throw out his hat, which would cause enemies to explode. However, holding the special attack button would cause all the enemies on screen to line up with Michael and dance to 16-bit renditions of Michael Jackson's most famous hits of the time, such as "Smooth Criminal", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller." These dances, once completed, would cause all enemies onscreen to collapse.
Once Michael has located all the children in the level, Bubbles, Michael's pet monkey, would fly onscreen, sit on the player's shoulder, and point vaguely in the general direction of the level's boss encounter.
On some levels, Michael can catch a magical star, transforming him into a robot, rendering him invincible and capable of firing lasers and missiles to show the enemy no mercy.
In the game's option menu it is possible to listen to all of Michael's songs featured in the game.