Grease Dance is yet another in a long series of games intended to cash in on the dance game craze that’s sweeping the nation. It all started with Just Dance on the Wii, and since then, Microsoft has come out with Dance Central and its sequel for the Xbox, while Sony has come out with Everybody Dance.
Grease Dance is published by 505 Games, who is not exactly known for their stellar titles. They do seem to be good at negotiating licenses with big brands–they’ve created branded games for the magazines Field and Stream, Rolling Stone and the movies Top Gun and Days of Thunder. If you look at these games, though, you’ll see that they get horrific reviews and ultimately end up hurting the brand they’re supposed to be representing.
Being a fan of the musical Grease (who isn’t?), I was looking forward to seeing what Grease Dance brought to the table.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the game is that all the graphics are cartoons. Yes, your favorite characters including Danny and Sandy are portrayed, and the graphics are campy in a 50’s sort of way, but personally I would have probably preferred some live action or something just a little less cheesy than the style portrayed here.
As for the gameplay, there are two options. You can Dance, or you can Sing. All of your favorite songs from Grease are represented.
Up to two players can dance at a time. When you start Dancing, you see a screen reminiscent of Dance Central, where two cartoony characters are dancing the moves that you have to mirror. It’s hard to tell at first which character you’re supposed to mimic, it took trial and error for me to figure out I had to copy the one on the left). As with all of these kinds of games, the closer you get to the moves the on-screen character is making, the higher your score will be.
The dance moves were all very authentic and reminiscent of the dances in the movie and the Broadway show. But I noticed one problem right away. The system was not picking up my motions at all. I’d be doing the dance moves perfectly, but I’d get “poor” scores. It was just as bad or worse than the poor motion tracking that plagued first version of Just Dance for the Wii–and this is with the superior technology of the Playstation Move.
There’s a camera image of you in a square in the upper left-hand corner. For some bizarre reason, they decided rather than showing your whole body, the camera view would zoom into only a portion of your body and would “shake” and “rattle” stylistically every time you moved your hand. Worse, sometimes the tight crop would mean your Move controller was out of camera range, which affected your score. It’s as if a developer said, “hey, let’s be different and show off what we can do with the camera”. But this is definitely an example of putting style over substance–the whole point of the camera view is so you can see your own moves and match them against the on-screen dancer. I didn’t find their treatment of the video either useful nor compelling.
There are no tutorials or break-downs of the dance steps, so you’re on your own as far as learning the dance moves.
The “Sing” portion of the game is a little better. They mimic Karaoke Revolution / Singstar, where you can sing the words into a USB microphone and a gauge will show you how accurate you are. I found that it was pretty good at telling whether I was hitting the notes and in tune. So for someone who loves the musical and wants to sing along, this is not a bad feature.
The best way I can sum up this game is that this game feels more like a Wii game from 2009 than a Playstation game from 2011. The fact that the game costs $50 is ridiculous, especially when you consider the far superior Everybody Dance and Just Dance 3 are under $40. I would much, much rather have had the option to download the Grease soundtrack into one of those games as downloadable content. If you’re an absolute die-hard fan of Grease, you will probably be able to overlook the flaws of the game and enjoy it just based on the great music alone. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a fun dance game, there are definitely much better options out there for you.