Review by metathran7
Reviewed: 07/16/01 | Updated: 07/16/01
Probably not for the hardcore Bust-A-Groove fan, but you just might like it
Dance Summit 2001 (Japan Release 11.02.00, Enix) was marketed as another installment in Enix’s famous Bust-A-Move series on PlayStation (known as Bust-A-Groove in the US). These games are all “dance music action” games, where a player controls the on-screen character with certain button presses made to the beat of music.
The first thing I wanted to know about this game is how well Enix adapted to the graphical processing power of the PS2. Well, they did a great job - this game is quite simply stunning; the accuracy of presentation is very impressive. The character models flow with precision, a result of excellent digital motion capture. Backgrounds are filled with eye candy. It is very easy to get into this game simply because the graphics are just so good. A massive improvement over the somewhat mediocre changes that occurred between BaG 1 and 2.
Unfortunately, the main reason to play any Bust-A-Groove game is incredibly lacking in quality and character. I felt extremely betrayed by Enix’s choice not to return to Avex as some Japanese gaming magazines had rumored last year. But even Bust-A-Groove 2 (whose BGM was not produced by Avex) had an excellent soundtrack. In DS2001 I was left often times wondering exactly who they got to sing the vocals and write the melodies and rhythms (and how little they paid them). Well sure, I'm a music minor in college, but I can honestly take a freeware drum loop program and come up with better beats.
Gameplay was also a huge disappointment for me. As a die-hard BaG fan, I expected more of the inputting a string of directions/buttons followed by a 4th-beat press. But Enix didn’t bring that back – instead we now have a Parappa-style input which features various button presses superimposed on a 16th-note-incremented measure that must be done to time (every button has it's own instant during which it must be pressed). This isn’t so bad if you enjoy Parappa-style games, but Enix didn’t do a particularly good job of implementing the system. The biggest problem is that there is no feedback – players have ABSOLUTELY no idea if they are pressing the buttons correctly – and this makes the game unappealing to players used to Parappa-style input, and also makes the game extremely difficult to learn for people unfamiliar with music action games. Every beginner I showed this game to was quickly turned off by the fact that he/she could not tell if what he/she was doing was right or not. It’s funny, that in one change Enix manages to alienate hardcore BaG fans, many Parappa-style game fans, and general users who are unfamiliar with music action.
. . . Enix’s other gameplay modification was innovative, though; in this installment of the BaG series, you control one member of a team of dancers at a competition. To proceed in the game, your team has to score a certain number of points to pass the stage – you don’t compete with another team. Your job during normal play is to be in sync with your team, and work together; solos in this game are moments where all your team basically shows off, in various group sizes. For example, depending on button presses right before the solo, you might go totally solo, or do some cool duo moves with just one other teammate.
The replayability of this game is increased substantially by the fact you have to play through the game several times to unlock all the stages and hidden teams... plus you have plenty of opportunities to try various dance styles. In addition, multiplayer on this game is quite simply a blast, since you can control all four players with the assistance of the multitap. So if you’re looking for a BaG party game, don’t worry, this one does parties quite well.
. . . My final complaint is that for players with a great sense of rhythm, the game becomes extremely easy. I was able to play through levels without missing a single input after just two days of playing – I wound up with 150+ combos many times.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
While I can recommend this title as the first good example (from a graphical standpoint) of music action on PS2 to music action enthusiasts, I can’t recommend it to hardcore BaG fans like myself. I was extremely disappointed by Enix’s choice to switch to the Parappa-style input, especially since the Bust-A-Move label remained on this game. I hope that Enix will realize their errors and at least release a game with a solid input system instead of leaving us with something that feels so incomplete; in the best case, they would return to the traditional (and unique) BaG style of input. I was also just so disappointed by the poor quality of music; even nowadays I frequently listen to the BaG and BaG2 BGMs (in Japanese of course). Personally there was nothing to keep me playing DS2001; I haven’t touched it since I put it on my shelf in November.
. . . At the same time, this isn’t to say that some people won’t enjoy the game. There is one other sparkling review on this site, although the writer obviously didn’t spend enough time on it to even realize that he/she totally misinterpreted the object of the game. ^_^ As I said, this is a great multiplayer game, and well, you never know what games you are really going to like.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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