Among the sights to see at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, this year is a live, ongoing performance from a group of dancers in the PSP corner of Sony's sprawling booth. The dancers put on an impressive display of dexterity by doing windmills, headspins, one-handed handstands, and myriad other entertaining moves that no doubt have similarly entertaining names. Unfortunately, we left our breakdancer's encyclopedia back home in the US, but Sony has us covered with a playable demo of the upcoming PSP game, B-Boy, on the show floor. We gave the game a spin to see if this rhythm game has the right moves, or if it's dancing on two left feet.
B-Boy starts off with a handful of different modes to choose from. The first menu selection lets you create a new B-Boy dancer to your own specifications and then take him into battle against other dancers.
The second selection on the menu is battle mode. In battle mode, you can go up against other dancers in either one-on-one or two-on-two battles. There are well over a dozen characters to choose from, hailing from countries like the US, Germany, Japan, and Korea. Once you choose your opponent, you can choose a venue in which to battle. We scrolled through about 20 different levels, although only a couple were available in the demo. Stages include a harbor, subway, gym, city park, downtown area, and many more. Several of the stages also have a nighttime version.
After you choose your characters and stage, you can make a variety of adjustments to the game rules. We stuck with the default rules, which set us up for a two-round battle. First one character takes a turn, pressing button combinations to string together dance moves. After about 30 seconds it's the other person's turn, and he does the same. The player who can perform the best routine wins the round, and the first player to win two rounds is the winner of the battle.
The move list is quite extensive in B-Boy, although we did see the same few moves repeated often. Moves like the windmill, three-step, headstand, baby freeze, babylove, and top rock seemed to be quite common. To perform the moves you simply have to press the correct button combination. The challenge is timing your moves to make them flow together well. Sometimes you'll perform a stall move, like a headstand, for which a balance gauge will appear and you have to keep an indicator in the right area of the gauge to maintain your balance, much like performing a manual in a Tony Hawk game. After stringing a few moves together your dancer's hands and feet begin to glow, presumably indicating that your dancer is ready to bust out with a special move.
It was too loud on the show floor for us to hear the music in the B-Boy demo, but the onscreen track list informed us that we were dancing to licensed tunes such as Hot Pants (I'm Coming) by Bobby Byrd, and Watch Out Now by The Beatnuts. The visuals in B-Boy look fairly good. The dancers all look as natural as they possibly could while breakdancing, and the environments, while not especially detailed or interactive, match the theme of the game just fine. The only major hitch that we ran into during the demo was the lengthy load time before each battle. It frequently took 30 seconds or more to load a single battle, but hopefully that will be addressed in the final version of the game.
B-Boy is scheduled to ship next month for the PlayStation Portable. For more info about the rest of the games at this year's Games Convention in Leipzig, stay tuned to GameSpot. For more on B-Boy, check back in September for our full review when the game is released.