Grease Dance: review

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  • Format: 360 (Kinect required, version reviewed), PS3 (PlayStation Move required)
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Developer: Zoe Mode
  • Players: 1-8
  • Site: http://www.greasethegame.com/

In the beginning was the word, and the word was Grease. That’s right, boys and girls; this is not, as you may have thought if overhearing others talk about it, a game about the Eurozone debt crisis. It is in fact the quite literally all-singing, all-dancing Grease videogame that became more and more inevitable as microphones and motion controls became more and more popular within the games industry. The question now is: is this a dumb jock, or slick greaser?

As you navigate up and down the main menu, you’ll notice that a sound effect plays each time the cursor touches an option. Within a few seconds, you realise that these tones are playing ‘Summer Nights’ at the irregular beat of your menu browsing. It’s a nice touch, and an immediate promise/warning of the cheesiness within.

Head in to Dance, and you’ll find just a few songs available. This isn’t a problem; songs are unlocked, basically, by performing each available one once. The tracklist is presented in a linear fashion by collecting the first batch of songs in an Easy set, another in Medium, then the final few (including a more demanding version of Grease) in Hard. There is, unfortunately, no way of setting your own difficulty for each song. Once you’ve made your choice, pick your game mode and the number of players, and off you go.

The groove of the word 'grease' may be debatable, but it certainly has meaning (both as a noun and as a transitive verb).

We all know the drill by now: copy the actions of the on-screen dancers. Here, it’s computer generated characters from Grease in suitably movie flavoured surroundings. The dance moves you’ll be copying are, by and large, ones that will be familiar to fans. Considering the fact that some of the original moves involve jumping up onto cars and interacting with crowds of perfectly synchronised dancers, a few changes have been made here and there where necessary, but familiarity with the best known Grease dance routines will certainly put you at an advantage.

Most of the Grease songs are in here; certainly the most famous ones, and many that you’ve probably forgotten. However, most – if not all – seem to be cover versions. Good cover versions though and, considering how many times the production has been done and redone on stage, it won’t even be an issue for many. Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee is a bloody terrible song no matter who’s singing it, though. In place of the few songs that are missing from the original list are other, frankly better songs from the era, such as Tutti Frutti.

No matter what difficulty the song you happen to be bopping along to has been placed in, it’s not hard to build up a score of hundreds of thousands of points. The game will often err on the side of generosity but, make no mistake, a good dancer will still crush the score of a poor one. Not that we have first-hand experience of this of course (ahem). The more demanding songs such as Hound Dog are the most enjoyable, especially with a dance partner (who you’ll have to be careful not to punch in the face if you don’t have a wide playing space).

There are a few different spins on the basic dance setup, including ‘Challenge’. This is a fun idea which works quite well, involving the dance routine being interrupted throughout the song by demands for you to strike a certain pose or perform a certain move. Lyrics are displayed at the bottom of the screen for each song, meaning you can warble along if the urge takes you (though it’s very difficult to keep track of the lyrics and the dance moves at the same time). There’s even a whole separate karaoke mode to try if you wish your singing to be judged by a ruthless machine. You can also go for the more reasonable option of dancer/s performing alongside singer/s, who can use either a USB microphone or the camera’s in-built mic.

Plenty of authentic rock 'n' roll moves in this game.

Sadly, the game slips up in pretty much every area where it tries to offer further value for money. Including dance moves where a pair of dancers swap positions then dance back again is a neat idea… until you realise the game makes no attempt to recognise you’ve moved. It includes the obligatory in-dance photo-taking… but there’s no way of sharing or even saving any of the results. There are minigames… but they’re all dull, or exhausting, or both (panel beating and spray painting is about as exciting as it sounds, for example). There are clips from the movie… but incredibly, no sound. Why bother including them at all?

A small point, but one we feel is worth mentioning, is that the Kinect version (tested for this review) recognises the presence of new players quickly and easily. Fellow Kinect users, how many times have you had to wave desperately at your TV, as though you’re trying to get the attention of somebody doing their very best to ignore you? Exactly.

Though there are missed opportunities and baffling decisions here, there’s also a lot of fun to be had for Grease fans. In fact, the soundtrack (also including songs such as Long Tall Sally and Yakety Yak) and dance moves mean this would make a great gift for anybody who loves their fifties music. Well, anybody who loves dancing and/or singing along to their fifties music, anyway.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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