Inside Pulse 12

Review: In The Groove (PS2)

Game: In The Groove
System: Sony Playstation 2
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Developer: RoXoR Games
Publisher: RedOctane
Release: 6/10/05

Over the last 1.5 years or so, there’s been a hot debate between fans of Dance Dance Revolution, and fans of In The Groove. What over? In The Groove’s existence. You see, both are dance games. Both are played with the exact same control scheme. Both have similar features. They can really be mistaken as the same game by people who just aren’t in the know. Yet there is hot-blooded venom on both sides of the fence in terms of what In The Groove really stands for.

Argument for Camp DDR: ITG is a pale imitation of DDR, emulating the gameplay mechanics and all of its features down to the last detail, with only minor enhancements between the two. The game is HORRIBLY bad because RoXoR Games doesn’t have an original bone in their collective bodies, and all they are doing is milking the success of DDR by installing their own ITG kits into preexisting DDR arcade cabinets. ITG IS RUINING THE GENRE!!!111

Argument for Camp ITG: DDR is dead. Konami doesn’t care about the US audience anymore, and only puts out crappy home versions with very little difficulty. ITG, developed by hardcore dance game fans, came along and gave ALL THE DANCE GAME FANS what they wanted: harder steps, more mods, better score tracking, USB support to save scores, and much, much more. DDR and Konami are just whining that RoXor games showed them up at their own game. ITG IS SAVING THE GENRE!!!111

Anyone else want to have a good belly laugh at all this fanboyism? Good, go ahead. I’ve been through these arguments longer than you, most likely, and I’m incredibly sick of it. But you can laugh! There’s LOTS to laugh about here!

Done laughing? Good, lets continue.

For me personally, I haven’t been able to experience In The Groove until it came time to review the home release. I really WANTED to play it, but no arcades in Maryland even carried the game until recently, and even then the locations that did were an hour’s drive away at the LEAST. The arcade experience just wasn’t in the cards for me. However, listening to the endless bitchfests on both sides WAS. So I quickly got sick of hearing about the knockoff/savior and how it suxx0rz/rul3zz0Rz the socks off everyone.

And now, the game is finally available to play on the PS2. And I FINALLY, after all this hype and anti-hype, got to play it. And I have an opinion on it! Does it reflect either of the two fanboyish camps?

SURPRISE! IT DOESN’T!

In The Groove is not a bad game, as the DDR fan base would like to think. However, it is not the savior/revitalization of the dance game either, as the ITG fan base has been led to believe.

So before I go into the review, I want to make a few things clear: One, I’m basing my opinions on ITG SOLELY after playing the PS2 version of the game. Having never experienced the arcade game, I can’t draw any comparisons between the two versions. Two, I’m of the opinion that DDR has plenty of life in it, as the game is selling very well in the states, and will most likely continue to do so in the near future. Three, I’m going to say positive things about ITG over stuff that I like, and negative things over stuff I hate. Yes folks, surprise of surprises, this game isn’t perfect. So if you’re going to flame me with stupid comments like “U R WRON!G ITG SI T3H GREATEST!!!1!1!” or “YOU DON’T LIKE IT CAUS U SUXK!!!1”, please either save your breath, or wait until AFTER you read the ENTIRE review to do it. I have enough junk mail to sift through as it is.


MODES

There are several different modes to find when initially firing up the game. Lets run them down, shall we?

First off, there’s the Dance Mode, which acts exactly like the Game Modes found in DDR. You pick whether you want to play Singles (one pad), Doubles (two pads) or Versus Play, and then play a set of songs. (The default is free, but you can change that to between 1-7, or infinite with Event Mode in the Options screen).

After you pick your song, you can hold the X button down to access the Modifier menu. Here, you can pick all sorts of things to change the gameplay around. Some can be used to make the game easier (No Jumps, No Mines, etc), while others can be stacked on top of each other to make things REALLY complicated. Want to play a song with arrows going twice as fast, backwards, blinking, and accelerating, with added arrows and removed targets? You can! Good luck following it, though!

Then there is Battle Mode, which sounds rather new when you get into it. You can either play against the computer or a friend here. Both players share a life bar, and a combo gauge. Filling the combo gauge will activate a random modifier on your opponent. Your gauge contains three levels, and keeping it high will unleash stronger mods in the process. At the end of the song, the person who has more of a life bar will win the round. It’s my second-favorite mode in the game, and can be some of the best two-player action in a dance game to date.

Now, does this mode sound familiar? It might, because its 97% EXACTLY like the “Dance Magic” mode found in the long forgotten Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix on the PS1! It’s not just a coincidence either! The mode was practically copied and pasted into this game! (Or as close as you can copy/paste something without actually using the DDR source code.) I was half-expecting Chip & Dale and Goofy to pop up and shake their tail feathers one more time. Now, there’s no denying that this mode is a fun one, and one that I enjoy playing very much. But the fact remains that I can play the same mode in nearly the exact same way on another game.

Now we get to “Marathon Mode”, which is ITG’s mandatory song courses mode, and my favorite mode out of the entire game. It’s reminiscent of DDR’s “Nonstop Mode”, but with its own twist. Courses last between four to five songs in length, and can be played as “Normal”, or “Intense” (where all song difficulties are bumped up by one). There are quite a number of courses to choose from, with more to unlock as you play. If a course has “MODS” in the corner of its banner, the game will throw random modifiers at you as you play. The mods can also differ in the degree they are implemented. In one course, I encountered the Wave Mod at 30%, 80%, and 110% of normal. I really like this take on the typical song courses I’m used to seeing. It’s a very nice touch.

Moving on down, there’s Fitness Mode. (Bet you can’t guess which mode of DDR’s THIS resembles!) Before you begin, you can set your weight, and your weight loss goal. Then you have your choice from either playing individual songs, playing courses, or playing an endless stream of random songs. The one thing I noticed is that the calorie counter is incredibly loose. It said I lost 400 kcal after only four songs, where in other dance games, I lost far less after the same amount of songs was over. Maybe its the song length playing tricks on me, but it still seems rather odd.

Those are the main modes of play. Then there’s Practice Mode (DDR’s Training Mode), which allows you to practice any part of a song you may be having trouble with. Then there’s the in-game Tutorial, which is about a 5-minute interactive video that teaches you about the game’s basics. Finally, there is the Records section that keeps track of all your scores. This mode is MUCH more detailed than what I’ve seen in DDR, keeping track of all scores and grades in a multitude of categories. There’s even an overall results screen, which tells you your percentage of clears and grades from the entire game. I’m really impressed with this.

Overall, the selection of gameplay and supplement modes is more than decent. Much of it is very similar to DDR, but there’s quite a bit here for players to do.

Modes: 7/10


GRAPHICS

You get the basic package here when it comes to visuals. The game’s interface is pretty slick, with moving backgrounds in some of the menus. The song select screen nice as well, with song titles huge and easy to read, and gigantic banners to go with them. You’ll also see the artist and song BPM displayed under each banner. Info about the song is displayed at the bottom of the screen, including the difficulty, your record in the song (if any), and the amount of holds/jumps/hands/mines you can expect. This info is rather condensed, however. I usually find myself squinting to read all the numbers. I practically missed the game telling me how to switch song orders, until a fellow ITG player pointed it out to me. (Hit Up, Down, Up, Down quickly on the song-select screen.) It was driving me CRAZY! It wasn’t mentioned in the manual, and I couldn’t find a method immediately online. All I had to do was look at the BOTTOM OF THE SCREEN! Whoops…

When actually playing a song, the HUD gets the job done. The arrows’ colors correspond to the beats they are on. Red/Orange for 1/4, Blue for 1/8, Purple for 1/12, and Green for 1/16. (Think of a DDR game stuck permanently on Solo.) The arrows themselves look rather plain this way, and the backgrounds don’t really do much to help out. All songs look to have random, generic videos in the backgrounds, with nothing especially specific to an individual stage. Most look a bit uninspired, actually, with only a few standing out to me in the end. (The spiral globe-map was awesome.) The main thing I’m impressed with is that when mods are switched in and out in between stages, they are done nearly flawlessly. And the transitions are perfect. I did see the game stutter on occasion, though. It’s not all that noticeable, but you’ll see if from time to time if you pay attention.

So all in all, the visuals are just…there. They get the job done, and that’s all there is to it.

Graphics: 6/10


SOUND

Here we go; the reason why music games are so enticing: the music! So how DOES this game’s song list measure up?

You get a grand total of 76 tracks to play. 61 are available from the beginning, and the additional 15 are unlocked through continuous play. One song was previously unplayable in the arcades outside of Marathon Mode, and another four are preview tracks from the upcomg In The Groove 2 arcade game.

The genres range mostly from Eurobeat, to Trance and Techno, with a smattering of Rock and Hip Hop thrown in for good measure. Outside of a few notable exceptions, such as “Zodiac” and “Anubis”, this is all you’re really getting from the song list. So if you’re not a fan Euro music, this might not be the game for you.

On average, songs last from around 1:45 to 2:15 in length, quite a bit longer than DDR songs. This can prove both a good and bad thing. Good in the sense that you’re getting more out of your average song. The bad is that you’ll probably tire yourself out quicker on the longer songs, and that most songs seem to drag for about 10-15 seconds at some points. Believe me, there are times when I wanted a song to END END END, only to have it go another 30 seconds instead. Argh.

There’s a combination of licensed music and original tracks. There aren’t that many recognizable artists in regards to the licensed material…that is, unless you play DDR a lot. Then you’ll notice the songs by E-ROTIC and Missing Heart right away. Both artists appeared in past DDR releases in Japan, and had highly enjoyable music, which fans have been clamoring for a long time (including myself and Moonlight Shadow, which finally made its way stateside). So new songs were licensed for this particular game, which must be good, right? Well, I gotta admit the E-ROTIC songs (“Lemmings On The Run”, “Touch Me”) and the Missing Heart songs (“Fly Away”, “Charlene”, “Queen of Light”) sound mostly…um…B-List. Its as if the creators are saying “Hey! We got Missing Heart and E-ROTIC! Just like you wanted!” only to pick some of the more average songs in both their repertoires. (Still, Queen of Light is my favorite of the bunch, and is still quite good.) Then again, this is my own musical preference. Your tastes may differ.

The other licensed music included is pretty good. “Tough Enough” makes another dance game appearance, as it also appeared in DDR Ultramix 2. (I won’t call that copying, however, as the song was licensed by both Konami and RoXoR at about the same time.) “Land of the Rising Sun” by Spacekatz is my favorite of the bunch, and is currently at the top of my playlist. “Hip Hop Jam” also gets an honorable mention for being a good song. But Natalie Brown should be drug out into the street and shot for screwing up BOTH “My Favorite Game” and “Torn”. (ESPECIALLY “Torn”. Made me want to tear my hair out.)

The original music included is really hit or miss. There are some really great ones, including “Oasis”, “No 1 Nation” (BEST ORIGINAL!), “Utopia”, “Da Roots (Folk Mix)”, “Dawn”, “Video Killed The Radio St”… er… I mean “Crazy”, and the unlockable “Tell”. (Gotta love those William Tell Overture remixes!) But for every good song I mentioned, there is at least one I can’t stand. “Which MC Was That?” is laughably bad, as is “While The Rekkid Spins”. And I MUST be insane, because I can’t get behind “Disconnected”, or either of its two remixes. Believe me, I tried to like them, but they just didn’t catch on with me.

So at the end of the day, the song list may be limited in genres, but there are quite a few songs I do enjoy dancing to. I consider a song list a success if there are 20+ songs on it that I can play forever, and this game has just enough to make that happen.

Sound: 7/10


CONTROLS/GAMEPLAY

If you’ve played DDR even ONCE in your life, you know the basics of this game. There are four arrows that come from the bottom of the screen, and you must hit them when they overlap the guiding arrows (or “Target Arrows” in this case) at the top. You’re graded for each step, and there are six grades in total: Fantastic, Excellent, Great, Decent, Way Off, and Miss. (Which easily correspond to the Marvelous, Perfect, Great, Good, Almost, and Boo timings of DDR.) Also included are “hold” arrows that you must…well, HOLD down to register.

Oh, and for the record, I’ve been told in previews that the game would have arcade-perfect timing for the home version, something DDR home versions don’t possess. If that’s the case, it must be REALLY easy to gain Fantastics and Excellents on the arcade game, as I’ve cleared quite a few stages already with little-to-no Greats. I swear, its harder to get a DDR Marvelous than an ITG Fantastic.

Also for the record, YES, you can turn off the corner buttons. Another feather in this game’s cap.

There are two new gameplay mechanics added to this basic formula. First are “Hands”, where you have to hit more than two arrows at a time. Yes, more than two arrows. So in order to accomplish this, you must use your HANDS! And that…is something I really don’t like. To start with, the handplants really do a number on my back. Being the unlimber player I am, I end up looking like a friggin’ hunchback while performing them. And it gets WORSE when I have to hit three or four arrows at ONCE. I never get the timing quite right, and even wound up falling off the pad once. Granted you can turn Hands off, and granted that a little practice will see me get better at them, but these things HURT! It also doesn’t help that my pad is situated in a spot where there’s not too much space to perform these feats of gymnastic skill. But that’s just me…

Another new mechanic are the Mines. Mines aren’t arrows at all, but flashing circles that you CAN’T hit. If you do hit one, your life bar will go down drastically. Like the Hands, not all songs have them, and they can be turned off if need be. But this is another “enhancement” that I don’t like. Mines really clutter up the screen in some cases, and really end up throwing my timing off. In fact, the Mine concept goes AGAINST what the Tutorial video suggests when it says “Don’t return your feet to the center!” There are quite a few scenarios when there are so many freakin’ mines on the screen that you have no CHOICE but to keep your feet on the Center panel. But again, I’m sure with practice, I could…aw, screw it. I hate the whole Mines concept. Deal with it.

The songs themselves range between 1-12 bars in difficulty, spread across five difficulty settings. (Novice, Easy, Medium, Hard, Expert) Yes, the Expert difficulty (and some of Hard as well) contain step patterns that are harder than anything I’ve seen in DDR. And its obvious that a ton of effort was put into these step patterns to make them as hard as they possibly could. However, the same effort and enthusiasm can’t be seen in the easier difficulty settings. Many of the songs on Easy and Medium have very repetitive step patterns, and they only seem to drag out more since the songs themselves are longer. So in order to get the full enjoyment out of the game, you really need to be good at dance games ALREADY. Newcomers may find the easier step patterns a bit boring for their tastes.

As far as even tackling the harder songs, you won’t be doing so hot unless you purchase one of RedOctane’s high-end model dance pads. And this isn’t a cheap plug for their stuff either; I’m being completely serious! You CANNOT do the really hard step patterns on a regular dime-store soft pad. Well, I guess you COULD, but that soft pad won’t last more than an hour if you do. Even with RedOctane’s Ignition Pads, I found my scores suffering a tiny bit. (I KNOW I pressed that arrow! Why doesn’t the game believe me??!!?) And those pads cost around $100 a piece! Your best bet would be a metal pad, but the good ones run in between $200-$300. So if you really want to excel in this game, you either already have a quality metal platform, or are looking into purchasing one. That’s dedication, right there.

Song records are done a bit differently than DDR, and another area of the game that I really like. Grades are determined by the percentage of Fantastics/Excellents/etc. you accumulate in each stage. A higher percentage means a higher grade. The game does use letter grades, but also uses the “plus/minus” system. Grades range from F to A, and go onto S ranks when you get close to the 90% mark. Reach the 96% mark to get a Star ranking. 98% nets you a Double Star ranking. 99% rewards you with a Triple Star! (I sense a pattern!) I’ve yet to reach the 100% mark (all Fantastics) yet, but doing so will give you a Quad-Star (or 4-Star for the purists), the highest ranking in the game. Its quite difficult to gain 100% Fantastics in the first place, though, even on the easier settings.

The game keeps track of your combos like DDR would, with each arrow press adding one to it. Jumps will add two, Jumps + 1 Hand will add three, etc. The one thing I find REALLY odd is that the combo counter NEVER resets itself after a song ends. It starts directly from where you left off. This counts when you leave a particular game mode and come back, and even after turning off the GAME and turning it back ON again. (Well, assuming you manually quit out of a song after missing some steps, maybe…) I see no reason for this at all. Still, one thing I like about the combo counter is that it will flash when you’re doing extremely well. If you’re only scoring Excellents and Fantastics, the combo number will flash gold. If you’ve gotten nothing BUT Fantastics, the combo number will glow blue. Its yet another nice touch, and a good back up for not resetting the combo counter.

The one thing I truly hate about this game is the loading times. They are downright horrid. It takes a good 5-7 seconds to start a song (which I can live with), but after the song ends, it takes around 10-15 to get to the results screen. And ANOTHER 5-10 after THAT to be able to pick your next song! Oh, and GOD FORBID you fail ANY SONG AT ALL. Even on EVENT MODE. The game will kick you out and throw you back to the title screen no matter what the conditions are. And the entire process takes about a MINUTE from start to finish. Whereas loading times in the PS2 DDR games are practically instantaneous.

(Whew) There’s a LOT to cover, isn’t there? (And probably eighteen more things I’m forgetting.) So all in all, the gameplay as some great things about it, but at the same time, there’s quite a few annoyances to put up with as well. But nothing that makes the game unplayable. That is a promise.

Controls/Gameplay: 6/10


REPLAY VALUE

Most dance games contain a lot of things for you to come back for, and this game’s no different. 76 songs to play, a large amount of courses to complete, and stackable mods give this game a great challenge. The unlock system also yields rewards with continuous play, which include even MORE courses, and even a couple mods that were only playable in Battle Mode to begin with.

Obtaining records in the game also increases the incentive to return. This game keeps track of so many stats, I don’t even know where to begin. And the overall ranking really makes me want to come back and fill it as close I as I can to 100%. So although there are some songs here that I want to see their artists killed for, there is still a LOT here for the hardened dance game veteran.

Replay Value: 8/10


BALANCE

As stated before, songs are rated on a numerical scale between 1 and 12. As can be expected, the higher-end numbers offer significantly more challenges than the lower numbers, and also contain the most Hands/Mines out of those groups. However, I noticed that there seems to be an imaginary line literally dividing the difficulty spectrum. I found myself clearing practically ALL the songs rated between 1 and 6 with no difficulty whatsoever. Come to think of it, some of these step patterns we incredibly BORING. It was only when I attempted the latter half of the difficulty spectrum that I found any real enjoyment, and any real sense of accomplishment. So songs rated 7 will require some practice. Songs rated 8-9 will require a LOT of practice. Songs rated 10 and higher require superhuman talents, an extremely high threshold of pain, and most likely a metal pad that won’t rip or tear. I only attempted a select few of these songs, and I was frustrated beyond belief.

Most of the 10-12 step patterns can be found on the “Expert” difficulty. And these songs are difficult. Again, more difficult than what i’ve found in DDR, I will admit that. But these borderline on STUPID DIFFICULT. I’ve noticed that most of the step patterns really start being fun in the 7-9 range. They flow beautifully, and are quite creative. But once you get into the double-digit difficulties, the step patterns start to lose that flow, and start becoming a cluttered mess on the screen. They’re just difficult for the sake of being difficult, and feel more like work than they do as play.

If this type of difficulty is REALLY what the dance game fan base was clamoring for, they must be insane, sick individuals…

Balance: 6/10


ORIGINALITY

Okay…lets see if I can get through this section without losing it…

A game where you hit arrow panels with your feet in time to the music? Check.

Four panels arranged Left/Down/Up/Right on the screen? Check.

Four difficulties, including a beginner’s difficulty, and an optional fifth difficulty for some of the songs? Check.

Step patterns rated on a numerical scale? Check.

Songs from artists made famous on DDR games? Check.

Eurobeat, Trance, and Techno in abundance? Check.

Six step rankings, each corresponding to another popular dance franchise? Check.

Three song sets, with an ability to turn on Event Mode? Check.

All of DDR’s mods, most of them renamed? Check.

Letter grades involved when scoring? Check.

A mode that allows you to play an abundance of named song courses? Check.

A mode copied and pasted from a long forgotten DDR game, treating it like its all new? Check.

A mode designed to help someone lose weight? Check.

A mode that teaches you how to play a four-panel dance game? Check.

A mode that allows you to practice any song on any difficulty at any point? Check.

BUT THIS ISN’T DDR! IT’S A 100% ORIGINAL GAME! STOP MAKING UNFAIR COMPARISONS! IT’S WHAT EVER FAN OF DANCE GAMES HAS EVER WANTED!!!

Seriously, let’s face facts here. As fun as this game is, and as much as I’ve enjoyed the songs I liked, the amount of items literally lifted and transplanted from the DDR series is almost inexcusable. The game has the same basic gameplay mechanics, the same set of modes (although with new twists), the same step grading, the same combo counting methods, the same five difficulties, etc, etc, etc. Outside of the new mods, hands, and mines, there is NOTHING here that doesn’t have its roots heavily into DDR.

So 85% of the time, using the terms “In The Groove” and “original” in the same sentence is laughable at best.

Originality: 2/10


ADDICTIVENESS

Okay, the game is not very original. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. I must say that I’ve been playing this game more that I thought I would. There are quite a few songs I really like, and I find that many of the Hard step patterns are fun and creative. I can see myself playing this game in combination with my DDR titles for a long time to come.

On the other side of the coin, however, is the fact that I get more tired playing this game than I do with DDR. With the difficulty kicked up a bit, and the songs lasting longer than usual, this leads me to sweat more and play less. I will admit to being “out of step” with dance games as of late, but I also find myself being able to go longer sessions on other games without too much trouble. This is the only drawback I can see others suffering from.

Addictiveness: 7/10


APPEAL FACTOR

It’s been said that In The Groove was created BY hardcore dance game fans, FOR hardcore dance game fans. I will not attempt to argue this point, as there are plenty of things hardcore dance gamers want. A bigger overall song list, incredibly difficult stages, artists dance game fans know, song courses that are fun to play, excellent record keeping, and more. This game fits that audience PERFECTLY. But exactly how much of this hardcore group actually represents the FULL audience?

I believe most ITG fans are Internet enabled, as most of the hardcore group has access to begin with. I’ll estimate that around 30% of the dance game audience are online enabled, and active in some way in the community. Fair enough? Now, half of this 30% have mastered every challenge DDR has to offer, and have become bored with it, which is understandable. Enter ITG. Half of THIS group actually have access to this game, as ITG arcade machines aren’t nearly as plentiful as DDR machines are. And 2/3 of THAT group are full-blown converts of the game, announcing that DDR is completely dead and that ITG is the savior of the genre. So out of the entire genre, ITG has converted approximately 5% of it. A fringe group, with its numbers being incredibly over-represented. (NOTE: These are APPROXIMATIONS. I could be off by a bit, and I realize I probably am. But realistically, not by much…)

So the main target audience of ITG is only a small fraction of the dance game audience in general. Naturally RoXoR wants to expand this, so they partner with RedOctane for the home release. But the way things are going, I really don’t think the game will be that much of a success in the home markets. A lot of people KNOW what DDR is, but have never heard of ITG. Most won’t even know to look for it, and simply pass it by on the store shelves. And for those that DO pick it up, most will be uneducated about it, claiming it to be a DDR ripoff and put it right back.

For those who give it a chance, I can’t see them sticking around for very long. Unless they are super-good at the game and can do Hard songs immediately, the easier step patterns will leave them cold. Not a lot of effort was put in them, and they can drag out just as long as the music can.

There’s also the fact that the game has recently begun shipping, but hasn’t been arriving in many places until a few days later. Include the fact that the game isn’t shipping as many copies as most other games, and ITG is going to be slipping under a LOT of radars.

Appeal Factor: 4/10


MISCELLANEOUS

By now, you’ve probably noticed I’ve made a LOT of comparisons between ITG and DDR. I’ve even mentioned DDR by name more times in this review than I have ITG. But really, can you blame me? The similarities are uncanny, and almost to the point of thievery. Simply taking a game concept and dressing it in a new coat with sparkling gemstones doesn’t make it a new, original game after all.

I can definitely see the DDR Camp’s point of view when they call the game a ripoff. I can also see the ITG Camp’s point of view that the game was made for the fans who wanted more of a challenge after being able to sleepwalk through multiple 10-Footers. But in all honesty, neither of these camps are absolutely right. ITG definitely takes a LOT from DDR, but they have come up with some original items, no matter how small they are. ITG also looks to be made for fans, but in actuality, mostly the hardcore fans. Fans just beginning in dance games won’t find the game nearly as enjoyable.

It’s as if RoXor really wanted to create a NEW dance experience, but was afraid of straying away from the formula that made DDR so popular. So instead of creating a new way to play, they simply took a ton of DDR concepts and added to them. This is perhaps the one big thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s a fun game, but it’s mostly copied from another.

Sure you can make the argument that ALL dance games emulate DDR, and I can see where you’re coming from. But other dance games at least LOOK original. Pump It Up contains five panels and the arrows are arranged differently. There’s also a heavy dose of excellent Korean Pop, and original music that I’d KILL for a soundtrack for. The upcoming Neon FM in the arcades also has five panels, but are arranged completely differently, and provide yet another new way to play. Even MC Groovs Dance CRAZE on the Gamecube, which HORRIBLY rips off DDR in concept and execution, has an 8-Panel Mode that uses the corner buttons of the pad, and plays differently than other dance games on the market. ITG has none of this, and not a whole lot to distinguish itself other than more arrows and mines.

The game is a fun one, as most dance games are to me. It will also share a permanent spot in my library next to my other music titles. However, I must say that I still like my DDR games better in the end. Its a matter of personal opinion, but the song selection in DDR is still better, and I can still find fun in these titles even after years of playing the same songs over and over again.

And no one can say that the games are super-different. They just…aren’t.

Miscellaneous: 5/10


THE SCORES

Modes: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls/Gameplay: 6/10
Replay Value: 8.5/10
Balance: 6/10
Originality: 2/10
Addictiveness: 7.5/10
Appeal Factor: 4/10
Miscellaneous: 5/10
Total: 59/100 (Rounded to 60)
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10 ABOVE AVERAGE