Tuesday, December 7, 2021

EyeToy: Groove

After EyeToy: Play showed off the power of the EyeToy, London Studio followed it up with a rhythm game known as EyeToy: Groove, the second game released overall specifically for the peripheral. I admit I did not have this game when it first came out, however I did become curious when, along with other EyeToy games, I found it for very cheap used at Amoeba as a way to get more mileage out of the accessory since I still owned one. While I am satisfied knowing how it worked as an early attempt at a motion control rhythm game, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down after seeing what EyeToy: Play had to offer.

The core gameplay is an expansion on the Beat Freak minigame from EyeToy: Play, in which you have to hit objects on the edge of the screen in time to the beat of the music. This expansion is made to fit more in line with that of a full rhythm game, where some moves require hitting two objects at the same time, holding by waving your hand or fingers in place on the target or moving your hands along a track. These are usually broken up by Pose sections where you have to wave your hands in front of two objects while striking a pose and Freestyle sections where you can dance however you want to help fill up a meter at the bottom of the screen, though both segments also take photos that you can optionally save to the in-game Photo Album. For modern players, this can be viewed as a sort of precursor to the Just Dance series of games, which features gameplay that involves copying the moves of the on-game Coaches, even including the option to track calories burned from playing each song. This game, however, also includes an option to create your own custom dance moves, as well as the return of the Video Messaging feature from EyeToy: Play.

Being a rhythm game, the real meat of the game comes from its song selection, of which there is a decent selection of 28 licensed songs to choose from, including artists such as Madonna, Good Charlotte, Jessica Simpson and Groove Armada to name a few. Of these songs, 23 of them are available at the start, with the other five unlocked from completing them on any difficulty in the Solo Groove option. On my earlier comment that the game can be viewed as a prototype Just Dance, some songs in this game would later feature in that series, including “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (Just Dance 2014), “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior (Just Dance 2), “Y.M.C.A.” by The Village People (Just Dance 2014, 2018) and “Aserejé” by Las Ketchup (Just Dance 4, as “Aserejé (The Ketchup Song)”).

Much like the Playroom feature in EyeToy: Play, EyeToy: Groove has the Chill Out Room, where you get to listen to the full versions of each song (unlike actual gameplay) while playing with cycling visual effects, though the experience ends once the song does. You can also play without any music at all, in which case the experience ends when you obscure the camera’s lens, or keep the experience going longer with Shuffle Play, which plays all unlocked songs in a random order. Additionally, five of the songs in the game have music videos that you can view raw, though on a noticeably lower volume than the rest of the game. I once had it where a music video loaded incorrectly, resulting in overlapped audio, however it’s easy to fix by backing out and reloading the video.

The box back gives a general idea of gameplay.

In addition to Solo Groove, there are multiple Group Groove options available for multiplayer. In Battle Groove, players take turns playing songs to compete for points, while Tournament applies the same idea to a set of four minigames. Battle Sync. and Team Sync. involve two players playing simultaneously, the former to compete and the latter to work together, however the implementation of this is a bit awkward since it involves both players having to stand side-by-side or in front of each other, which can easily lead to chaos.

Despite the array of features, EyeToy: Groove does not seem to have the same amount of replay value as EyeToy: Play, outside of maybe playing on higher difficulties. I would mention the idea of using it as exercise, if not for having the same problem as EyeToy: Play where your arms will hurt after extended sessions. One thing I would attribute this to is the general lack of variety in comparison to EyeToy: Play, since it doesn’t take that long to explore everything and the design of the multiplayer is much less optimal for party play.

Though made to work with the EyeToy peripheral, I found out while playing that the game actually has some compatibility with a standard controller, albeit outside of actual gameplay. To elaborate, Start can skip the opening cinematics and the D-Pad, Left Stick and Cross (X) can be used to navigate menus, while Cross can rapidly cycle through visual effects in a Chill Out Room and Circle can exit music videos. Finding this out was a godsend as it led to a lot less wear on my arms over time, though I was more surprised than anything at the idea that controller support was even included in the game at all.

Though a bit lacking in content, EyeToy: Groove isn’t a bad game to have in your EyeToy library, especially since so few of them ever made it to the US, though I probably would’ve had a much lower opinion if I got the game at full price. If you’re looking to get some mileage out of your EyeToy and you see this one for a great price, I would say to go for it so long as you temper your expectations.

No comments:

Post a Comment