Just for kicks

By Russell Baillie

By Russell Baillie

Bust-A-Groove

Enix

PlayStation

Perhaps a game to be approached with caution if feeling a little party-pooped after the festive season, but Bust-A-Groove - a sort of Mortal Kombat of the dancefloor - is still an inspired addition to a growing range of PlayStation music and dance game titles.

Basically it's a dance competition: your character must execute a series of dazzling moves against an opponent, the consistency and fluidity of which gains you points.

If that sounds something like the truly awful SpiceWorld game, don't worry. It's more like the quirky PaRappa the Rappa - you follow the on-screen instructions about which buttons to push, Simon-says fashion, trying to hit the final of the set on the last beat of the bar.

Get the sequences mistake-free and your dancing becomes all the more spectacular and point-scoring, though sometimes there are frustrations at having done a flaw-free take and still losing to the game-generated rival. So perhaps the two-player mode is where it makes the most sense.

Its 10 starting characters show the game's Japanese anime influence and range from unreconstructed disco smoothie Hiro to futuristic respirator-wearer Gas O.

The 3D graphics are smooth and the music - which you can hook from console to your stereo if your telly isn't already connected to your sound system - certainly kicks, even if some are amusingly cheesy Japanese factory facsimiles of dance tunes from out in the real world.

It all comes with occasional outbursts of aggression too. You can trip up your opponent with special moves - for example, the Muppet-like character Hamm can drop a giant hamburger on his rival.

One problem is that while watching the scrolling-button instructions, you can't keep an eye on your character.

But if you win a game you can switch to "view mode" and sequence a set of dance moves for your character and have them get-down while you zoom the camera around them. Yes, it can get very Solid Gold Hits in there ...

But it's funny, funky and a riot of colour. An off-beat game in an on-beat sort of way, Bust-A-Groove offers a dance party for one, or however many you can fit on the couch.

Pictured: Cool characters strut their stuff.

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