Dance Factory Review

Dance Factory's main feature is the ability to generate dance steps to your own music CDs. There's just one problem: It doesn't really work.

Dance Factory is a Dance Dance Revolution-like dancing game from Codemasters that puts you in control of the song list. Considering that, most of the time, you probably only ever like a handful of songs in any DDR release, adding support for music CDs seems smart. But Dance Factory's bad interface and poor beat-detection capabilities get in the way almost immediately.

Dance Factory is a good idea, but the execution is bad.
Dance Factory is a good idea, but the execution is bad.

There are only five songs that come on the Dance Factory disc, but the game relies on you inserting your own music CDs and dancing to those. The game's main feature is that it will "listen" to your CD and automatically generate dance steps. But the automatic generation relies on too many of the same step patterns over and over again. On top of that, the game has a hard time when it comes to figuring out the timing of those steps. While the steps might fall right on beat at the beginning of a song, over time they always seem to fall out of sync. You can get around this by making up your own steps for a song, but the entry method for the steps is to simply freestyle dance to the song. The steps you lay down are recorded and can be saved, but not edited. Some sort of graph-based step-creation mode that lets you plot out where each step should go would have made more sense.

In addition to creating steps to dance to, the game lets you create creatures that are based on the data scraped from CDs you put into the PlayStation 2, sort of like Monster Rancher, though these creatures don't look nearly as good as the ones found in Tecmo's monster raising series. You can buy accessories, like baseball caps and bracelets, for your creatures using money earned from dancing, and you can battle another player's creature in a dance-off. In creature mode, your creature will dance onscreen while you dance to the steps, but the animation is awfully basic.

The rest of the graphics aren't much better. You have a few backgrounds to choose from when you dance, but all of them are very plain. It's understandable, since the whole game has to be kept in memory because you'll be swapping out CDs all the time, but it's still very basic. The game's EyeToy support lets you toss your own ugly mug up on the screen, too, if that's your thing.

This game's sole selling point is the ability to generate steps for your music CDs, and that part of the package doesn't work very well at all. Beyond that, there's very little here. Unless you're willing to use your feet to manually plot out dance steps, Dance Factory isn't worth your time.

The Good

  • Lets you do DDR-like dance moves to your own CDs

The Bad

  • Beat detection for step generation always seems to get it wrong
  • visuals are very bare-bones
  • manual step recording isn't well implemented

About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.