These days, when you mention a “dancing game” to someone, chances are that they’ll think of something like Beat Saber, Just Dance, Dance Dance Revolution or something else that requires the use of your body and some sort of peripheral. So, it came as a surprise when I learned Bust A Groove only required the use of the standard PlayStation controller. If you’re looking for a game with some catchy music and fun dancing that simply requires good timing on the controller, then consider Bust A Groove. Just note that maximum enjoyment will require a CRT television.
In Bust A Groove, dancers have the power of “dance energy.” It doesn’t do much other than give them the ability to cut a rug and perform some sick moves. Each dancer wishes to become the best dancer in the universe, and to do so they need to compete against one another. The cast of Bust A Groove is colorful. There’s Hamm, a fast food employee that enjoys dancing as much as scarfing down burgers. There’s Kelly, an office worker that heads to the clubs to get her swerve on after the day ends. There’s even a mad scientist that manages to dance in a gas mask. It’s an eclectic cast in which everyone’s outfit almost outshines their dance maneuvers.
When you boot up the game, you can select between a one player mode, a two player mode, and a practice mode. Completing one player mode unlocks a mode called Dance View, which lets you view and choreograph the dance moves from the cast. Playing Bust A Groove starts simple and gets more complex the better you do. A series of arrows appears on a bar, and you need to time a press of the circle button to the beat by following these arrows. By succeeding, you start a combo. The further in the combo you get, the more complex the button presses. However, higher combos mean a higher Enthusiasm Gauge. Missing a button means starting the combo over and a decrease in enthusiasm. A neat trick that you can do is to perform an attack by pressing the triangle button. This lowers your opponent’s Enthusiasm Gauge. However, these can be dodged by pressing the square button during the right moment.
As I said, it’s a simple set up that gets more and more complex the further you get. Thanks to practice mode, you can get your bearings before diving into the single player campaign. Bust A Groove becomes a delightful little gem when you start finding your groove. It’s fun watching your colorful dancer perform all sorts of dance moves while music from hip-hop, techno, house, trance, blues, pop and more come through the speakers. The lights will be flashing. The camera will be shooting from dramatic angles. It all comes together in a fun package.
Unfortunately, if you’re playing on anything but a PlayStation or backwards compatible PlayStation 2, then you’re going to struggle to find the correct timing. When I first started Bust A Groove, I was playing on a PlayStation 3. I thought my timing was on point, but I was still missing every beat. My tech savvy friends informed me that I needed to try a game like this on an older television. I did, and things went much smoother. Bust A Groove went from a frustrating endeavor to a fun way to kill a couple of hours while listening to some great music.
Aside from not enjoying some of the songs, I don’t have anything negative to say about Bust A Groove. It’s a fun game that takes the idea of a music game and turns it on its head. Whether you play solo or against a friend, 989 Studios and Enix created something special.
Overall, 8/10: Bust A Groove uses a fun soundtrack and addictive game play in the best possible way. It never stops being a good time.