Hoping to capture a bit of the same success that PaRappa enjoyed, 989 Studios has brought Enix's Bust A Move (named Bust A Groove here to avoid confusion with Taito's puzzle series) to the States. Rather than clone PaRappa's feel-good style and use button presses to play music, Bust A Groove has you pushing buttons to control one of several dancers in an all-out dance-off.
The gameplay is pretty basic. Two dancers attempt to outdance each other with a large variety of different moves. You pull off moves via a series of onscreen controller commands. The dances branch out into different patterns, and you must sometimes choose one of two possible dance paths. If you perform your moves on time and in sync with the beat, you'll do well. Miss a beat, and your dancer stutters, unable to perform his move. A meter at the bottom of the screen lets you know how both dancers are doing, and whoever has a higher meter at the end of a song wins.
The characters are, essentially, clean versions of the club kids you keep seeing pop up on various daytime talk shows. You've got girls in cat suits, a disco dancer, and a gun-toting lunatic named Strike. A few changes have been made in this domestic release. Strike, while he still manages to sneak two pistols past the doorman, must have had his flask confiscated at the door, 'cause he now packs a can of soda in the small of his back. Also, that pesky no-smoking law has kept Hiro's habit from appearing in the US version.
Graphically, Bust A Groove is great. The characters and backgrounds are varied and extremely colorful. But the real showstopper here is the motion capture. The dancers move extremely well, better than any motion-captured movement I can remember. The music in the game is also varied, ranging from house to disco and just about everything in between. A few songs may be a bit annoying, but they all provide an interesting take on a different musical style.
Bust A Groove won't draw nongamers in like PaRappa did, but it's still quite a bit of fun. The great music and graphics go a long way, and again, the motion capture is really terrific. If PaRappa left you wanting more games in that vein, Bust A Groove makes for a good follow-up.