EyeToy: Groove Preview

We check out Sony's grooviest EyeToy title yet.

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In an age when games are taking advantage of every button a controller has to offer, Sony's EyeToy has swept onto the scene offering a potent reminder that some of the best ideas are the simple ones. The USB camera peripheral has proven to be a runaway hit for the PS2 since its release late last year. The unit came packed with EyeToy: Play, a collection of 12 minigames that eschewed use of the standard Dual Shock Controller for the PlayStation 2 in favor of your body. The disc used a totally visual interface for its menus and gameplay that simply required you to wave your extremities around. Two of the games on the disc, Beat Freak and Boogie Down, were simplistic rhythm games that let you get your groove on in a limited fashion. Sony's UK studio's next offering for the peripheral is EyeToy: Groove, a dedicated rhythm action game that is looking to be yet another fine addition to the EyeToy line.

Groove is the newest EyeToy title, and it focuses on rhythm action and dance gameplay.
Groove is the newest EyeToy title, and it focuses on rhythm action and dance gameplay.

The gameplay in EyeToy: Groove is a solid hybrid of disparate elements culled from the best and brightest rhythm games on the market. The core mechanics are Dance Dance Revolution-style coordination segments that have you standing in an onscreen outline waving or holding your hands over one of six points around the screen in time to music. The already addictive mix is supplemented by some posing--think "Vogue" with a little less flair--and by some Samba de Amigo-style motion sequences where you'll follow an icon across the points in a set direction. An onscreen meter will fill or deplete as you go about your business. The game will rate your timing and give you a letter grade as you play.

You'll find three basic modes in the game: solo groove, group groove, and chill-out room. Solo groove is a single-player game that lets you test your skills in one of four difficulty levels: dynamic, easy, medium, and hard. You'll even be able to pick a calorie mode that lets you track how many calories you're burning.

Group groove is a multiplayer mode that features four game types: battle groove, battle sync, team sync, and tournament. Battle groove is a turn-based competition that lets you face off against a friend. Battle sync is a head-to-head tug-of-war for control of an onscreen meter. Team sync forces you to work with a friend to complete routines. Tournament lets you compete in one of three mingames: tag, frenzy, or perfection. Tag is a fast-paced Simon Says-style game that prompts you and your opponent to match onscreen moves. The catch is that neither one of you will know who's supposed to go until your picture appears onscreen (the game takes a glamour shot of you and your friend before playing).

Frenzy is a fast-paced segment that requires you to hit the onscreen points when icons go through them. The twist here is that skulls, which you'll have to avoid, will also appear in the mix. Perfection requires you to perfectly match the onscreen prompts for as long as you can. You'll have three lives, and you'll lose one with every error, which adds a painful sense of urgency to the game. You'll be able to individually select any of the three minigames or choose a random option that will throw any of them at you.

Finally, the chill-out room lets you listen to all the music in the game--individually or by using a CD player-style shuffle option--watch music videos for assorted tunes, or just hop around and trip out on the various visual effects that are triggered as you move in front of the camera without music.

An eclectic track list is available, totaling 28 songs.
An eclectic track list is available, totaling 28 songs.

In addition to the game modes, EyeToy: Groove will feature a dance-move-maker option that lets you create your own custom routines to the song of your choice. The mode will let you pick a song and then record your movements as it plays. At the end of the tune you'll be able to test it, and if it meets your approval, you can save it to your memory card. You'll be able to import your original routines into the solo groove mode in place of a difficulty level and live out your dreams of being a world renowned choreographer for the stationary gamer. The options in EyeToy: Groove include letting you tweak audio and camera settings and check out the EyeToy's video manual, and the game offers the same type of video messaging options seen in EyeToy: Play. Finally, the game's photo album will let you review and save the pictures taken during the game to your memory card. Be forewarned, though, the camera does not lie. You may think you looked incredibly cool and suave when your picture was being taken, but inspecting it after the fact may offer a painful dose of reality.

As far as the music goes, EyeToy: Groove is packing some serious tunes. You'll initially find 23 songs to choose from, but you'll be able to unlock another five and bring the track list up to 28. The collection of tunes is eclectic and offers a little something for everyone. Below is a list of the tunes you'll get out of the box. We'll leave the identities of the other five tunes for you to discover.

  • "Jumpin'" -- Liberty X
  • "Deeper Underground" -- Jamiroquai
  • "Jungle Boogie" -- Kool & the Gang
  • "Praise You" -- Fatboy Slim
  • "A Little Less Conversation" -- Elvis vs JXL
  • "We Are Family" -- Sister Sledge
  • "I will survive" -- Gloria Gaynor
  • "Move Your Feet" -- Junior Senior
  • "Dancing in the Moonlight" -- Toploader
  • "Forbidden Fruit" -- Jessica Simpson
  • "Music" -- Madonna
  • "Hooray Hooray (It's a Cheeky Holiday)" -- The Cheeky Girls
  • "Hustler Groove (instrumental)" -- Apollo 440
  • "Overload" -- Sugar Babes
  • "Let's Groove" -- Earth Wind and Fire
  • "Y.M.C.A." -- Village People
  • "Canned Heat" -- Jamiroquai
  • "Starlight" -- Supermen Lovers
  • "Dance to the Music" -- Sly and the Family Stone
  • "Superstylin'" -- Groove Armada
  • "Don't Stop Movin'" -- Livin' Joy
  • "All I Want" -- Mis-Teeq
  • "Gotta Get Through This" -- Daniel Bedingfield

EyeToy: Groove is shaping up to be a solid follow-up to EyeToy: Play and should serve as an excellent party game that just about anyone with a modicum of rhythm and coordination can play. If you're lacking either, you can make your very own rhythmless dance routines in the dance maker and swap them in when playing. Or you can just watch videos and play with pretty colors in the chill-out room. The game should offer something for everyone. EyeToy: Groove is currently slated to ship next month for the PlayStation 2.

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