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Developer: Enix OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1-2 Player
Game Type: Party/Dance Memory Card
Review Date: October 1998 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

Let's set the record straight before we go any further.  Bust-a-Groove 
has nothing what-so-ever to do with shooting colored balls into groups of 
three at the top of the screen causing an avalanche to fall on top of your 
playing partner.  Confused?  You will be!

The story goes that a powerful energy from space has suddenly appeared.  It 
is called Dance Energy Groovetron and to capture it's power you must enter 
and win the Bust-a-Groove contest.


If you ever played Parappa the Rapper then you will very quickly understand 
the concept of Bust-a-Groove, only this time, instead of rappin' out 
loud to the rhythm of the music you must command your character to move 
with the groove.  

The gameplay is entirely based on pressing the buttons on your joypad in 
time with the music.  Keep up with the beat and your dancer will perform 
a wonderful array of moves that will make John Travolta go green with envy.  
Let's get down and boogie! 


The opening sequence is relatively short but serves a purpose.  It's yet 
another of those quality intros that is actually surpassed by the high 
standard of the in-game visuals.  

I half expected the graphics to resemble the flat cut-out shapes that 
found fame with Parappa the Rapper but was pleasantly surprised to 
witness silky smooth gouraud shaded characters that move as fluidly as 
they look.  In fact I would even go to say that the characters are 
almost as detailed as those recently witnessed in Tekken 3.

Before the music begins they perform a series of stretching exercises 
to limber up.  This involves bending and then straightening legs, moving 
arms above head with hands clasped together, rotating the upper body to 
loosen those hips or even swigging the contents of a flask to summon up 
extra courage.  

Once the beat began I almost fell out of my chair.  They actually move 
like they are really dancing.  Sort of Eddie Gordo at the disco.  The 
guys begin to strut their stuff in a manly fashion.  They throw their 
chests out and gaze around to check that the chicks are watching them 
before launching into a series of acrobatics and spins that would 
comfortable slot into a circus act.  The gals flicker their eye 
lashes, dance around their purses for a few seconds and then ease 
their bodies into a smooth sexy series of moves that will undoubtadly 
attract the boys to the edge of the dance floor like flies.

Of course they are all dressed to kill and I am sure that you have 
witnessed at one time or another that dress sense on the dance floor 
can be both weird and wonderful.  The well proportioned Frida only just 
wears a skin tight top along with her multi-colored bell bottomed slacks.  
Heat looks as if he has just returned from a ski holiday.  Apparently he 
was badly burned in a racing accident and keeps his skin well covered up.  
Pinky opts for a sequined bikini.  Hiro puffs away at a cigarette not 
caring that the ash may fall on his brilliant white suit (there's always 
one who thinks he's in Saturday Night Fever).  

Of course it wouldn't be the same without a couple of wacky 'over the top' 
characters and Bust-a-Groove has it's fair share.  Kitty-N looks a 
sight in a complete cat-suit - tail whiskers and all.  Gas-O is a chemical 
fanatic who wishes to perfect a poison gas - must be why he always wears a 
gas mask.  Hamm is so called because he would rather be sitting in a 
Hamburger restaurant than throwing his extremely large tummy around a dance 
floor.  The remaining contestants are the notorious gang member Strike, 
twelve year old cry-baby Shorty and rubber fetish freak Kelly.  Robo the 
Robot and curry king Capoeira are the 'boss dancers'.  What a mixed bunch!

The are numerous arenas (or dance floors if you prefer) with each contestant 
having their own venue that relates specifically to their character.  For 
instance Heat jives in front of a blazing inferno, Ham struts his stuff in 
a Burger Bar while Hiro naturally takes to the 'Saturday Night Fever' style 
dance floor.  Get the idea!

Sounds and Effects

The music is surprisingly good and comes from a wide variety of styles and 
influences.  In effect there should be something there for everybody - 
Disco, Rap, Techno, Hip-Hop... virtually anything that you can dance to.  
I wouldn't be surprised if one of the tracks sticks in your head for days.  
Don't expect it to be too heavy though because the theme remains very much 
on pop music.  


Now Enix could really have blown it had they opted for a control system that 
used all of the buttons on your joypad.  Thankfully the developers have kept 
it all relatively simple.  All you need to play is the ability to count to 
four and the skill to press either the X or O buttons in time to the music.

There are three different skill levels and a Practice mode to hone in on 
your dancing moves.  I would highly recommend a visit to this area of the 
game rather than diving straight into a full blown contest.  Select from 
seven sequences and begin by practicing tapping the required button on 
every fourth beat - one, two three, PRESS, one, two, three, PRESS.  Once 
you have mastered the rhythm a set of easy commands appears on the screen.  
These involve using the directional pad.  The most important thing to 
remember is tht you must always hit the fourth beat in time to the music.  
For example, successfully enter the command of Up, Up, Up, X and your 
character will begin to dance.  The more complicated the command, the 
flashier the move.

Entering a single player game puts your selected character on the dance 
floor with a random opponent.  Both must dance to the music with points 
awarded for each correct combination.  When a song has ended the winner 
is declared and you move onto the next stage of the competition.  The 
object is to defeat all of your opponents in a similar way to a beat-em-up... 
only this time it's a dance-em-up.

To add a little flavor to the gameplay each contestant has two 'special 
attacks' that can be used during a routine.  At any time during the round 
you may press the Triangle button in place of the X button to launch an 
attack, however, this must be pressed on the fourth beat to work.  To 
defend from an attack you must press the Square button on the following 
fourth beat.

Bust-a-Groove also includes a two player head to head mode where each 
person may select their preferred character to dance the night away.

Value for Money

It's certainly an original idea and considering how well Parappa 
the Rapper sold last year it could prove to be a surprise hit.
GRAPHICS: 17/20 If you are interested in my personal opinion I would definitely advise that you rent before buying. Simply because Bust-a-Grove is one of those games that you will either love implicitly or hate repugnantly.

Although it all sounds very easy to pick up and play, if you don't have rhythm, then you won't get very far. Judging that fourth beat can be a little tricky when it occasionally falls out of sync with the music.

It should prove an instant hit with the kids.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 15/20


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