Dance Factory - PS2 Review
Dancing games are a bit of a rarity in PAL territories. Unlike Japan and America where each release (mainly in Konami's massively popular DDR series) is met with wild excitement Europe and Australia seems to miss out on all the fun - that's despite the massive popularity of peripheral based games such as the SingStar, EyeToy and Buzz! in our territory. Codemasters are now stepping up to the plate with Dance Factory and hoping to offer you something new - a dance game with a catalogue of millions of songs. No, they're not downloadable, but rather you use your own CD's which it analyses and creates dance steps for you to groove to.
|It's another dancing game.|
Upon first starting the game we decided to head straight into the title to see what it can do, and for that we looked for the five licensed games. These songs included "I Like It, I Love It" by Tim McGraw, "I Like The Way" by Bodyrockers, "Pon de Replay" by Rihanna, "Don't Cha" by Pussycat Dolls and "Get Down On It" by Kool and the Gang. They're OK songs but the dance moves and performance of the dance mat (which is included in the game) is as good as Konami's series. There's certainly no problems with this section of the game other then the extremely limited range of songs. Why Codemasters couldn't you include around 20 tracks or so for those that just want a quick play, and no need to find our own music CD's?
Next up we decided to import our own music and create our own dance steps to then replay and dance to. This provides a decent amount of entertainment, especially if you have a large group of friends around. You can get some pretty wild results when your with a group of friends and this area also gets our tick of approval - even if it is a bit tiring after a while to create a decent set of dance steps to replay.
|The main menu interface.|
As with Konami's dance games this title includes the ability to work out how many calories you've burnt off while playing the game. Developers Broadsword Interactive are also including support for the Eye Toy which, when enabled incorporates some hand movements into the dance moves. At the very least you'll be able to see the results of your drunken antics! Support for 16-players is included, but is obviously turn based.
Now, the big selling point of this game is the fact that the game will create a series of dance steps after analysing any music CD which you put into the PS2. It takes about a minute to analyze each track (and that number varies due to the legnth of the song), but the steps can then be stored to the memory card. By using your own CD you can use any style of music you love - be it dance, rock, ballads, rave, blues or whatever. It's a fantastic idea that could be a tremendous positive to getting more people interested in this genre given that most dedicated titles limit you to around 40-60 tracks at most.
Sadly the development of this game has gone horribly wrong for the simple reason that the games key feature - its creation of dance steps to your music - doesn't work. We tried everything from slow ballards to 200+ beat per minute rave songs and while there was some variation in the steps, it was hardly in time with the music. I was almost waiting for my PS2 to blow up while it analyzed the rave music and the resulting steps weren't even in time with the bass. To promote a title on a key feature which barely works - and we'd say it doesn't at all - is plain wrong. Imagine buying a fighting game only to learn the enemy doesn't fight back, or a licensed sports game that only includes some of the players it was licensed to use.
|Using the fitness mode.|
Another of the issues is that Dance Factory takes a bit of time to load your music and analyze the song - perhaps a bit over a minute per each. When you have a lot of people wanting to play, having to load their songs for the first time becomes rather annoying. I also found it rather amusing that a game like this, which ships with a dance mat, also includes a option to play with the controller. We tried this for about 30 seconds, and I'm pretty sure we'll never go back to it! I guess though, and I don't mean to sound mean/evil/disrespectful as I'm not, that this ensures that anyone can play the game - including those with a physical disability.
Graphically Dance Factory is pretty average at best. As a dance game we've seen better from Konami's Dance Dance Revolution titles. We're not sure how much the game could have been jazzed up, but it needed something. It simply seems very sterile and unengaging. At least the dance steps are clear to see and that, I guess, is the key to the game. Menu design is also rather uninspiring.
We've already mentioned that Dance Factory only includes five licensed tracks - something probably done to keep the focus on your own collection. In doing so though it makes the game seem rather underdeveloped and cheap. We really would have appreciated a large range of music styles to show off the potential of the title more. The menu music, and limited effects makes this an extremely hard game to review in terms of audio. There's no special effects such as echo, or surround sound but nothing offends either.
|Clean, but uninspiring graphics.|
A game that fails on its biggest feature really is hard to recommend. Dance Factory doesn't come close to what we were hoping it would achieve, but with a development team from Managing Directors to Testers only including 17 people it's not hard to see where it may have struggled to compete with the big boys (read: Konami). The software developed to analyze your music collection and then create dance steps seems more like a random move generator then something which actually works correctly. This is a game only for die-hard dance mat fans - and even then, still probably one to avoid.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||It's pretty average visually, but conveys the dance steps as expected.||60%|
|SOUND||Hard to mark this as the majority of the music is your own. Little else.||50%|
|GAMEPLAY||The CD detection is totally inaccurate. It totally ruins the gameplay.||35%|
|VALUE||Needs more licensed music? Dance mat is solid. Game fails on basics.||47%|
|OVERALL||Dance Factory is a very disappointing title. We had high hopes but the fact of the matter is that importing your own music isn't nearly as accurate in creating dance steps as it should be. Fortunately you can make your own, if you can be bothered. One only for die-hard dance mat fans.||52%|