Britney's Dance Beat for the Game Boy Advance is a decent music-inspired video game, but it's definitely less about music and rhythm than it is a platform to promote Britney Spears herself.
In the game, you assume the role of Britney as she prepares for her upcoming world tour. Using various combinations of the A, B, and directional-pad buttons, your onscreen persona will flail and dance in time with five popular Britney Spears songs. The songs include "...Baby One More Time," "Oops!...I Did It Again," "Stronger," "Overprotected," and "I'm a Slave 4 U."
While the motion-captured visuals are superb--especially for a handheld system--the overall screen layout and gameplay don't lend themselves to sightseeing. As your dancer twirls and shimmies in the center of the screen, you'll find yourself paying more attention to the dizzying step indicator at her left. During the song, it rotates in a clockwise direction and highlights the appropriate dance steps, which you're supposed to perform by pressing the designated button combination.
Dancing is easier said than done, as the step indicator spins far too fast in the practice mode and at near supersonic speeds in the concert tour mode. The button combinations that appear within the step indicator, while random, at least fit the overall pace of the music. Unfortunately, the appearance of contradictory directional arrows, combined with a rapidly rotating indicator, creates an interface that is somewhat confusing and, at times, nauseating. The game would have been better served by a more traditional horizontal or vertical timing display.
Timing is the only gameplay facet of Britney's Dance Beat. The step indicator moves faster, and the button combinations become more challenging as you increase the difficulty setting, but that's about it. Unlike in Konami's music games, there are no mania, remix, or freestyle modes. An included two-player mode lets you test your dancing skills against human opponents, which is a lot more fun and relaxing than participating in the grueling single-player modes.
Success in the practice and concert tour modes unlocks various prizes. In all, there are 12 promotional photographs, four slide puzzles, and one video clip. The photos and puzzles are minor diversions at best, but the video clip--a snippet of Britney performing "Overprotected" in Las Vegas--is amazing. The clip is compressed with a third-party codec, developed by 4X Technologies, that lets the GBA display a full minute of video along with crystal clear audio. For approximately 60 seconds, you can actually watch Britney Spears perform on your Game Boy Advance. "Wow" is an understatement.
Besides the video clip, Britney's Dance Beat looks and sounds excellent. Britney's dance movements are motion-captured, which gives the game a lifelike fluidity, while the colorful backgrounds and promotional photographs offer fans a significant amount of idol worship. Songs themselves are not the same as those you'd hear on CD or the radio. The lyrics have been removed, leaving behind only the accompanying backbeats and a few necessary vocal snippets. Despite the lack of lyrics, however, the songs are unmistakable and still insidiously catchy.
Fans of Britney Spears will enjoy the chance to interact with her music or to amuse themselves by collecting glamour photos, but those searching for the next Beatmania or PaRappa the Rapper won't find their jollies with Britney's Dance Beat. The game just isn't deep enough or complex enough. Nevertheless, it is an excellent promotional item.