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New: Finally got hands on PS2 In the Groove.

In the Groove Review

No matter what you think of ITG, please support this product! Competition can only be good, as Konami seems to be in a rut. I have always envisioned complicated battle modes which almost surfaced in DDR Disney Mix. Such Fun! There are many good implementations of battle systems on simple shape droppers.. think of the Tetris variants. That the shape stream in Dance Revolution games flow against gravity like Salmon on the run is about the only big difference.

Yay for more Dancing!

This game is a huge jump for Red Octane and Roxor. IGN seems to think it is also a big gamble legally also. Right away you feel a drastic difference in the game engine.. The edges of the step indicators are just too sharp to be sprites. Get this: the fuzzy edged lossy compressed steps are gone! This gets really obvious when you run into a mine or other shape! Wheee! (not sarcasm) The most important and very cool thing is the focus on music and accuracy. No annoying announcer shouting at me that either I am a boy or terrible or whatever. I will not miss the announcer in the least.

At first the lack of licensed songs left me with a bit of a hunger for Konami. I thought about rejecting the ITG Marshmallows and Almonds and going back to vanilla. (not like I would ever pass up a music game.) Once the initial shock hits your taste buds In the Groove really satisfies.

Since I use my own design for Homemade Metal Dance Platforms, I noticed a problem pretty quick. The Dual (Doubles) mode would only fire on the one player side. So strange. Of course the logical thing is to question the platforms since they occasionally need repair. After half and hour of swapping control boxes and checking inputs.. the idea to check In the Groove options wins out.

fix the problem
Apparently the default mode is two people on one controller? Now that is a strange banana.

A few other places had this option as well; so don't waste any energy in panic mode when things get weird. You will need all of your energy to keep up with the game. Difficulty progression is done well, and songs are clearly indicated instead of the Konami web shaped difficulty-ometer. You can see the number of jumps and settings in plain text. This leads to the complaints section of the review:

Blank load screens
Is it really that hard to calculate the score? I know they are playing with many more computations between "you dance like a drunk penguin" and "you rock", but does that really take so long to add up? The blank screen is so long at first the game seemed to be locked up between songs. That initial panic is about the only thing to keep your heart rate up between songs.

Score indications on the song menu
In the ever puzzling Konami style.. The song selection wheel is an attempt at one-upping the competition. The rotating jewelry display case approach for the songs is interesting. Which ones have I played? What are my high scores for the given song? Maybe right-justified text is going to be a new fad.

Focus point is higher
No, this one is not really repeatable or objective, but the "feel" is wrong while watching the arrows move. Something about the approach of the arrows makes me need to focus higher up the screen toward the target zones. Is it because the arrows are scaling up in size as they approach?

The calories I carry around are calling to be burnt. I must heed and go play In the Groove now. Awesome Job RedOctane!

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