Eye Toy: Groove


posted 4/27/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PS2
Barring that you own MLB 2005, there hasn’t been much of a reason for you to dust off that old Eye Toy that you picked up late last year. Since it sold quite well Sony Computer Entertainment America is dedicated to supporting it and ensuring that it lives up to its potential. For this it has imported Sony Europe’s dance title Eye Toy: Groove to the States. Personally I’m glad that Sony is dedicated to supporting the device but small mini-games like this just aren’t going to cut it in today’s cut-throat marketplace.

Eye Toy Groove is similar in execution to Konami’s Para Para Paradise. It’s a dancing simulation but instead of using a dance pad like in Dance Dance Revolution you use your hands to jive to the beat. This is done by moving in sync to the beat and hitting the floating icons as they move towards their sweet spots. So essence you’re dancing but you’re mainly using your hands instead of your hips. In here it’s all a matter of timing but with a twist, the star of game isn’t some lame cartoony persona. Nope, thanks to the Eye Toy you’re the star of the show.

If you can point at shiny objects then you’re officially qualified to play this game. Like most games of the type it requires you touch floating objects that are in sync to the beat. In this case you see icons floating from the center of the screen towards receptacles on the edges. There are various types of icons that are thrown at you to mix up the action; there’s an icon that requires you to put continuous motion on it until it passes, one that requires you to move your hand across the screen in a waving motion and a larger icon that takes up plenty of surface space and is easy to hit. Every so often two icons will pop up that prompt you to strike a pose. The Eye Toy takes a picture of your pose and stores it so that you can bring it up later on. Also there are periodic breakdowns where the icons disappear and you can bust out your own moves as the camera records it. It’s kind of foolish to do on your own but can be a blast when you’re in a party atmosphere.

Speaking of parties, there’s a multiplayer mode where multiple players can participate in the action. It’s pretty fun if you have a bunch of people around who don’t like to sit and wait their turn. First is Team Sync which requires you and a teammate to synchronize your movements. It plays the same was as the normal game but you need to hit the floating icons at the same time for maximum points. Battle Sync operates in similar fashion but the players are competing with each other instead of co-operating. Last are a bunch of mini-games that can lead to a hell of a lot of fun. In Tag, players will have to jump in and out of the frame to take their stab at the action. Changes occur rapidly, leading to a pretty wacky and frenetic adventure. To round out the modes is a game of memory, another which requires you to touch all of the icons that appear on the screen and a free play mode that plays the song while you watch yourself dance.

In today’s Atkins-crazed society nothing can escape the evil grasp of weight loss, not even video games. Groove gives you quite a work out when you’re playing it and the designers make a concerted effort to point this out by giving you a calorie counter. It’s not quite as in-depth as Konami’s Workout modes but it does tell you how many calories you’ve burned as you play.

This program was developed in Europe and the soundtrack is the biggest giveaway. It features 28 tracks from a wide variety of artists but many of them are from strange Euro acts that many Americans aren’t familiar with. This means that you get tracks from groups like Five and Las Ketchup which have absolutely no fanbase in the United States. It’s nice that you get to expand your musical palette but I wish SCEA would have done more to localize the soundtrack. There are some classic oldies thrown around but some modern-day tracks from today’s club scene would have done wonders.

Probably my largest problem with Groove is that there just isn’t much to do. After you’ve played through the songs a couple of times there’s no real reason to go back and challenge them again. It lacks the addictiveness that Konami’s series of Bemani game has because there’s no real incentive for the player to master the tracks. Since each song’s background is essentially you dancing there’s no real differentiation from one track to another. I wish that the game would have come in with some sort of built-in backgrounds to provide the gamer with a different experience for each track. While each track may sound different, the experience becomes monotonous because everything seems too familiar.

If you’re looking for a reason to justify the purchase of your Eye Toy then look no further. Groove is a fun little diversion that will keep you entertained for short spurts at a time. It’s not quite the amazing killer app that you may have hoped for, but it’s definitely a worthy addition to your library.

It's a nice addition for people who own the Eye Toy but it's not a great reason for anyone to run out and pick up the peripheral. It's more a mini-game if anything, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its merits. Fun for the weekend but not something that will keep you glued to the PS2 for hours.

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