Reviewed: February 11, 2005
Released: November 2, 2004
If you are one of the few million GameCube owners who have been staring enviously at your Xbox and PS2 owning friends who get to play DDR and a few other select dancing games then the time to rejoice is at hand. Mad Catz wants you to dance the night away with MC GROOVZ danceCRAZE.
Mad Catz is marketing danceCRAZE as a bundle, combined with a custom designed Beat Pad that is very similar to the ones for the PS2 and Xbox. You can also purchase the GameCube Beat Pad separately for $29, which is required for the gameís two-player modes.
Currently, Mad Catz has the luxury of having the only dance mat and game available for Nintendoís console, and whether they rushed the game out the door to achieve this exclusivity or simply arenít that skilled in software creation, danceCRAZE is a barebones dance game that is a pale reflection of the other games currently available on the PS2 and Xbox.
For anyone who has ever played a dance game before, danceCRAZE doesnít offer much beyond what weíve been seeing for several years of dancing games. In fact, everything that is offered here has been done better and with much more polish. But that doesnít make this a bad game, just terribly unoriginal.
The first choice you get to make is your game style. You can pick from Spin or Scroll. Scroll is the standard style we see in games like DDR where the arrows scroll toward the top of the screen to their docking outlines. Scroll mode centers the docking arrows in a display that mirrors the dance mat. This makes the gameplay synch with the dance mat slightly better but is also a bit more difficult since there is some overlap in symbols and you donít have as much reaction time.
danceCRAZE offers four game modes that are very similar to what weíve seen in other games but nowhere near as comprehensive. Just Dance lets you pick any of the 28 songs and choose from three skill levels then try for the highest score possible. Dance Together has two players working in unison to earn combo points with coordinated dance moves while Dance FaceOff pits two dancers against each other using the same dance moves. Finally, Dance Workout is pretty much like Just Dance only there is a calorie counter ticking off the pounds.
The single most unique element to danceCRAZE is the addition of diagonal cues. Yes, up until now these dance games have only used the four cardinal directions but now, if you pick a high enough skill level, you can tap your toes on all eight sections of the dance mat.
For those of you with two left feet or those simply too lazy to get up and dance youíll find this game is not very suited to the controller. It can be played, but the D-pad on the GameCube controller is small and uncomfortable, especially for prolonged usage. Plus, with the potential for 8-way directional input this means you are better off using the analog stick, but analog isnít as precise as the digital D-pad so itís easy to inadvertently miss a cue.
The face buttons, which normally mirror the D-pad, are dedicated for the four angled directions in this game and you will have to use the C-Stick for your secondary input control. Bottom line Ė this game was meant to be played with the Beat Pad so use it.
My biggest problem with danceCRAZE is that there is nothing here beyond a menu of songs. There is no grading scale like DDR so you can never really strive to improve your ability beyond simply getting the highest score, but even the high score isnít posted for each song as you scroll through the list, so you have no real goals. Even the calorie counter just ticked off arbitrary calories, but there were no calculations to relate those figures to jogging or swimming like in DDR.
The graphics in danceCRAZE are serviceable. That is to say, they get the job done but certainly donít do anything extra. None of the songs have videos and all of the music is accompanied by similar style swirling patterns that look like some of the more simplistic plug-ins from Windows Media Player. There is also a silhouette of a dancer grooving in the background but itís merely a shadow and no defined character model.
The arrows are colorful and easy to see. Cues that need to be hit together are color-matched which is a nice touch. The score and combo meter are kept to the edges of the screen allowing maximum visibility of the hypnotic graphics.
Whoa! I have to give kudos to the people who picked the music for this game. There are 28 songs and every one of them is perfect for dancing and most have never been used in another dancing game. Some, I havenít even heard for nearly a decade and many brought back a lot of fond memories from my DJ days.
Here is the complete song list for you to drool over:
Well, we have 28 songs clocking in at an average of 3-4 minutes each so it can take you about 2 hours to sample all of the songs in single-player Just Dance mode. Games like DDR with their grading scale do a great job of keeping me playing the same song over and over, but in danceCRAZE you merely put in your initials and move on to the next song. There is no real incentive to do better, since it is so hard to see your past performance.
The multiplayer modes might offer some additional fun, but the game is virtually impossible to play with a gamepad, which means somebody is going to lay out another $30 if they want to dance on a Beat Pad.
As for overall value, $29 is more than fair for the Beat Pad. Itís a high-quality mat, very durable and comfortable, but that means the game comes out to be $20 and I just canít justify that price for so little gameplay. Of course I am coming from a place where I have other options (Xbox and PS2). If all of your gaming is on the GameCube and you love to dance, then your options are pretty much limited to this bundle, in which case I can make a guarded recommendation with the caveat that hopefully, now that the GameCube has a Beat Pad, other dance games will eventually ship for the system.
As far as I know, this is Mad Catz first venture into the videogame realm, and while danceCRAZE isnít the worst game Iíve ever played itís pretty obvious that they need to stick with hardware. I commend their efforts to fill a glaring gap in gaming hardware that has been absent since the system launched, and appreciate that they packed in a game with their Beat Pad.
If you have no other outlets for your dancing pleasure, then by all means check this game out, but if you have ever played another dancing game on any other system, or even in the arcades, then the shortcomings of danceCRAZE will standout, perhaps only eclipsed by the excellent selection of music, making this game one that is more fun to listen to than to play.