I couldn’t wait to check this out when I saw the link yesterday, so I downloaded the beta of the new Korean game multiplayer dance game Audition. After the enjoyment I have had from Warcraft’s dancing and socials creativity in recent months, I wanted to see what an MMO based on competitive avatar dancing could possibly be like. What a kick it might be, I thought! And you know what? It is!
The online dance battle was originally named Bust-a-Groove and it’s heavily hip-hop oriented, which is not a music style I enjoy, but for the game it’s fun, nevertheless. Audition is browser based. Once you install the client on your PC, the game launches and patches in a browser window. (Note: You must use Microsoft Internet Explorer — no Firefox in Korea.)
Maybe it’s the male/female difference that’s often alluded to, but I found it a welcome relief not to wield a staff and cast spells and hack and slash for a change, no questing and no crafting! What you basically have is a room with 7-8 avatars in it, and all of them are trying to produce the moves generated by the game without making mistakes and having to start over. At the end of each round, the scores of the group are posted, and it all starts over again. The game is only in beta, so the backgrounds and avatars and dance styles are somewhat limited, but you can see that with music you could tolerate the whole concept would be a lot of fun — especially if you were competing against people you know.
There will be different game play modes, and a game Mall where you can use the credits you earn to buy new clothes or dance music, except I didn’t get high enough to do it and was stuck dancing to some really awful techno/blues/rappy type no-name music that really grated on me quickly. Perhaps music selections will be better in the public release.
Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution products in the late 1990s had a floor mat with electronic sensors that was attached to a viewing device. The player physically had to produce the series of moves represented on the screen. In Audition, it’s purely a keyboard game. The player is presented with a series of directional arrows for moves and has to type them within the time allotted, hitting the space bar on the keyboard to complete the sequence on exactly the fourth beat. It’s a little tricky to get the hang of, but it’s not complicated (unless you are dyslexic with arrows!). Limber up your thumbs…there’s a lot of spacebar hitting!
Hey, here’s an idea! I’m on a crusade to get myself up from the desk chair more often. It would be great if you could use i.Tech’s projected virtual keyboard on the floor (big enough for feet to move in) with Audition. You could use your feet to tap out the arrow patterns and hit the spacebar with your hand or foot. That would count as real exercise!
I have reservations about how long a shelf-life this game will have. It appears to be a one-trick pony, and, while it’s a fun departure from the norm, I suspect the enduring allure of the smell of old leather, cold steel, and dragon scales on a frosty morning will call me back again rather soon.
Update: February 2, 2007 — Reuter’s published research results of a study by the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency showing that a PC version of Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution had a positive effect on weight gain among children ages 7-12. West Virginia schools are going to introduce the game as a way to help fight childhood obesity.