Review by Dave Giarrusso

989 Studios/Enix


Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

Does you gots RHYTHM? Does you gots RHYTHM?? Well, if you does gots some rhythm, then gets out to the store right now and pick up the fantastic new game Bust a Groove for your Playstation. Right now. We'll wait.

bustagrooveps1.jpg (13538 bytes)Like you, I had heard a lot of hype about BAG. (That's funny. "BAG.") Possibly like you, I wasn't really sure what all the fuss was about at first. Ironically, my typically non-game playing brother (you might say that video games aren't really his "bag"...) was one of the first people who I got some first hand BAG info from. Some of his friends had gotten their mitts on the import version of the game (ie, BAM, changed to BAG since we already had that name for the stateside puzzler starring everyone's favorite bubble blowing dinos) well ahead of its scheduled US release, and he couldn't stop raving about how great it was. As he explained the gameplay to me, my mind was busy working out the details. It made sense. It sounded elegantly simple, and easy to learn, but tough to master. Plus, if it was able to make my brother sit up and dust off his videogaming skills, it had to be good. I made up my mind to snag my own copy of the game as soon as it was released stateside.

I happened to actually see Bust a Groove, for the first time, on one of those ridiculously enormous projection screen televisions. Two guys were busy out-juking each other with Kitty-N and Shorty. My mouth must have been hanging open for a good twelve minutes before I could actually utter any words. (The last time I can honsetly remember being so moved by merely looking at a game was when Ghouls and Ghosts hit home on the Genesis. I bought mine later that day. Nintendo, take note: you have not made me NEED an N64 yet. Nuts to you!) I think I finally managed a "...must... gnnnngg... get... game... gnnnng..." before running blindly toward the Playstation section, wrestling the last remaining copy from the powerful clutches of a nun and a rather svelte looking woman dressed in one of those pink tutus, and finally racing back to the front of the store to pay for it. After reaching home base, I plugged it in and got ready for weeks and weeks of groove-a-riffic gameplay.

The important question is, what the hell makes BAG such a great game? Well, for starters, in our sadly same ol', same ol' market, it is far and away the most different thing to come down the pike since, well, probably since Tetris first set the world on fire. Try and find another game like BAG. You can't. It's pretty brilliantly different than anything else, and, the motion capture animation is amazingly beautiful, if you go for that sort of thing. If you go for that sort of thing, the visuals and animation alone are worth the price of admission.

bustagrooveps12.jpg (18639 bytes)Here's the deal: you pick a dancer from the group of thirteen (ten to start and three hidden) and commence in groove busting. Sound simple? Well, as long as you're not a sorry member of the Rhythmless Nation, it will be...at first. You and a friend (or the computer) get the opportunity to vye for the attention of the camera while pulling off some of the coolest dance moves ever seen, in, or out, of a game. As the music plays, each dancer must "git down" by pressing one of the four buttons on each fourth beat. There are a bunch of different tunes, and each has slightly different rhythm, so pay attention. (Note: the game has the option of turning off the lyrics - you may wish to do so since some of the songs' lyrics are downright STOOpid - its only minor flaw.) As the game progresses, the moves become more difficult, requiring a combination of keypad presses prior to the final button press. The keypad movements need not be in time to the tunes, so long as the button is pressed on the fourth beat. That's all there is to it!

Sounds easy, but, there is more than enough variety and depth to this game for funk-fiends of all skill levels. See, the screen displays a possible move or two for each of the dancers. However, once the player's "groove-meter" begins to fill up with "groove-tron" energy, moves that AREN'T displayed can be substituted by the expert player, as long as A) the player has enough energy to pull off the desired move, and B) the player chooses the right part of the song to execute said move. Sound confusing? It is at first, until you've spent lots and lots of hours in front of the TV with plenty of sugar by your side. By then, you should be able to plow through any of your characters' moves at the drop of a 45 rpm record and hog up the camera, as well as the glory, for the entire length of the song.

Oh yeah. Of the four buttons on the controller, only two of them are strictly for dancing. The other two are for attacking or dodging attacks. Like the dance buttons, they must be pressed on the fourth beat. Subtle clues are given when the opponent is readying his or her brand of interruption, so pay close attention and take note when you see or hear something strange from the other side of the dance floor. If you don't, you'll likely wind up smashed, shot, kissed, pummeled, or otherwise thrown out of step while attempting to create some o' that "mad hype smack" on the dance floor.

The important thing to remember when playing this game is that the RHYTHM is all important. If you ain't got none, then you probably oughta stick to watching, or, playing a couple of rounds of Pac-Man. Or maybe Smurf Rescue. Or Sssnake.

My fondest wish is that other gaming companies will take notice of BAG and follow in its footsteps, not by putting out a bunch of crappy watered down imitations of BAG, but by producing games that are equally as innovative, imaginitive, and just plain different. Much to my chagrin, our fearless leader has already informed me that other companies are already jumping on the dance-o-rama bandwagon. I guess there's just no room for any substantial risk taking in the game industry anymore. Well, perhaps someday...

Powder puff power rating: This game is chock full o' girls, and they're awful cute in that gaming girlie way. Women will dig 'em because they're portrayed in a good light (ie, they can actively kick some tail and aren't standing around doing the "help, help!" thing), and guys will dig 'em 'cause they've got nice boobies. I hope we can say "boobies." If not, I'll just say they're busy busting some seriously hype grooves with some seriously hype busts. Yeah. No matter how you slice it, no Playstation library is complete without this game.


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Last updated: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 11:04 PM