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In The Groove Preview

Scheduled release date:

Roxor Games is out to prove that Konami isn't the only game company around who's got rhythm. In The Groove, due out in early May, will have dancers breaking out their dance pads one more time for a game that proves that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery… but this game is no ordinary imitator.

At first, the game looks strikingly similar to Konami's Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) games. On the screen, there are four arrow icons, which match the four arrows on the dance pad. Arrows denoting beats will glide up the screen and it's up to players to step on the corresponding arrow at the right time as the beats enter the corresponding arrow icons. That sounds familiar, right? What DDR veterans may not be ready for, however, is that the arrows can do some funky things on their way to the arrow icons.

These arrows can spin, wave, disappear, rotate, and more. It becomes quite the challenge at times to focus on when to step correctly, and this becomes part of In The Groove's charm, as well as the over 70 techno music tracks that the game will offer. To add to the fun, new icons have been added to the traditional arrows, which will force players to use more than just their feet to succeed. "Hands" icons are introduced here, along with arrows, so that players may have to use their hands and their feet simultaneously, kind of like a sick game of Twister. In fact, "quads" will require the use of all four limbs at once. Players will have to be cautious, too. Aside from the arrow, hand, and quad signals, which can play tricks on your eyes, Roxor has also added mines. These mines, if triggered, can devastate your score and could kill your progress.

Multiplayer modes, including playing against the computer, look to be a lot of fun. Much like in Britney's Dance Beat, when one player gets on a roll and completes a lengthy combo, arrow modifiers will affect the opposing player. Arrows will shrink, speed up, slow down, and be subject to other effects which can make it almost impossible not to miss the timing—unless, of course, the player knows the steps by memory.

In The Groove will also offer other modes of play, aside from the Arcade and Battle (multiplayer) modes. Marathon mode will be similar to DDR's Nonstop mode, where players will be able to dance to four or five songs in a row without much break in-between. Fitness mode will be similar to DDR's Workout mode, as players can set their own goals for burning calories and customizing their workout sessions. For newer players (or novices, like me), In The Groove will also offer a pretty in-depth Tutorial mode to introduce the new concepts that the game offers.

Visually, the game will remind players of DDR, but that isn't a bad thing at all. There will be occasionally busy backgrounds, but most players will be too busy trying to follow the on-screen arrows in order to notice. The arrows are the stars of the show for players, though, and there's a large number of possible arrow modifiers. The arrows are polygon-made, so the animation is smooth. The sound is pure techno, fueled by groups like Utopia, Xuxa, Zodiac, and Oasis. The tracks that I have heard are really quite impressive.

With a relative drought for music and rhythm titles for the PlayStation 2 recently, In The Groove looks to spice things up in the genre and, at the very least, gives DDR veterans a new challenge. Based on media that we've seen here at PSX Extreme for this game, it looks like the word "challenge" may be an understatement. We'll certainly put this game through its paces and give you a full review soon.

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