When does ‘paying homage’ stray into ‘downright rip-off’ territory? It’s a question that even Ubisoft itself has been asking as of late with the accusations made against OG International’s Get Up and Dance, where according to the French developer everything was a little too close to the gameplay and style of Just Dance for comfort, stealing key ideas that are not present in other genre stable-mates. However, here we have DanceStar Party from Sony’s London Studio, the same team that brought the world countless Singstar and EyeToy games over the past decade or so. Also known as Everybody Dance in the US, a name that is remarkably even more of an attempt to lure innocent folk into thinking this is potentially an exclusive version of Just Dance for PlayStation 3, this latest Move-enabled piece of software encourages players to throw down as many hip-and-happening dance moves as they can in order to gain the highest score possible. The resemblance to Just Dance 3, though, is truly uncanny, although a dance game is a dance game is a dance game, admittedly. After all, breaking from the standard template that has had gamers enamoured the world over would be extraordinarily foolhardy.
Therefore, here it is, DanceStar Party, which aims to proves that indeed everybody can dance, even going as far as placing what is basically a TV promotional video at the very start that shows off a wide array of people leaping around, gyrating their bodies perfectly to the background music, and, most importantly, not looking completely idiotic whilst waving the PS Move controller all over the place. The more naïve amongst us may well be sucked in, believing that it may indeed be possible to emulate such performances after all. That is until the dreaded PS Eye Camera brings us crashing back down to Earth with a resounding thud. Yes, your performances are recorded, and yes, not only are quick shots of your twitching and flailing flashed on-screen during the chosen song’s video, but there is a video replay of your highlights (or should that be lowlights?) following the completion of the dance routine. Already there is marginally more to DanceStar Party than Just Dance, and already the embarrassment factor has been multiplied considerably. You may think that the game’s choreographed moves are being matched perfectly for the entirety of a track, but actually succeeding in following the on-screen prompts is not quite as straightforward as first envisaged.
The prospective levels of humiliation can actually be amplified, though. One major aspect that Just Dance on Wii certainly did not feature was the community element, whereby videos can be uploaded and shared with people from around the world. Whilst seemingly a fresh and wonderful idea that should have been a given from the start, DanceStar Party’s inclusion of such an idea could well to turn into one of those nightmares you simply cannot wake from.
Picture the scene, if you will: after a long, gruelling week at the office it is time for some rest and relaxation with a group of friends. The drinks are flowing, the mood is becoming feistier, the music in their veins starts pumping, and suddenly people are itching for some dance action. The beauty of DanceStar Party is that it can support up to twenty wannabe stars in dance-offs, as well as simply allowing for pitting yourself against another friend with a motion controller in Battle mode or teaming up, and even getting everyone to sing loudly into compatible microphones or at the PS Eye’s own mic using the on-screen lyrics (or possibly your own creative words if feeling rather inebriated). Why could this result in an unmitigated disaster? Well, there are the dangerous options to upload any videos and/or pictures to your in-game gallery and then share them with the all and sundry. Not only is this done via personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, but via the wonderful world of the Internet in general. Anyone with DanceStar Party can easily jump online and view each and every one of the latest uploads, gaining pleasure at your expense. Oh the shame…
Although looking at it from a more positive angle, it does mean that those of an ostentatious nature wanting to show off their ‘performances of a lifetime’ with friends and family can do so with the greatest of ease. This applies to the solo mode as well, where starlets can strut their funky stuff, aiming to grab a five-star rating in any of the 40 songs found in the initial track list and boast about it. Speaking of songs, there is a surprisingly robust selection on offer, ranging from the old school cheese of Los Del Rio – Macarena and Venga Boys – We Like to Party, to the foot stomping LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem, through dance anthems such as Deadmau5 ft. Rob Swire – Ghosts ‘N Stuff and Chemical Bros. – Hey Boy, Hey Girl, and across to classics like Elton John – I’m Still Standing and Diana Ross – Upside Down. London Studio has admirably attempted to appease the masses with the line-up, and if the forty-strong set is not enough to satiate your musical palate, there are many more to download from the PlayStation Store.
Additionally, if grooving to the three levels of difficulty was not adequate enough, twisting and turning along with the choreographed dancers either in the full-length or shortened editions of songs, then DanceStar Party serves up even more treats in the form of Dance Studio and Workout. The former is a place to craft your own routines in the Dance Creator section, or perfect every step in a Dance Class, whilst the latter turns the whole shebang into somewhat of a fitness title, revealing how many calories are supposed to have been burned by the various songs chosen, with progress monitored over time. There is nothing better than working off eight calories and rewarding yourself with a Chunky Kit-Kat…Even though these extra trimmings to the standard formula are welcomed, the meat is obviously in the main dancing section, and it’s safe to say anyone bitten by the jive bug will be besotted with this.
em>Just Dan…sorry, DanceStar Party definitely continues to show how the genre can be developed further down the line, picking up Ubisoft’s mantel and nudging the world of dance products in the right direction. Sony’s effort may lack some of the integral charm of the Just Dance series, but with a vast array of songs on offer and the ability to download even more, as well as extra options to entice players back, this is definitely a worthy alternative to consider.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: PS3 Release Date: 21/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of DanceStar Party for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.