Tuesday, November 01, 2005

VG REVIEW: Pump It Up Exceed

for PlayStation 2 and Xbox
rated T for Teen (suggestive themes)

There’s nothing like a video game to make you feel completely inadequate. Especially if it’s a dancing game.

Recently, I popped in "Pump It Up: Exceed," a new dance title in the same vein as the popular "Dance Dance Revolution" series. Now, I don’t profess to be Fred Flintstone, let alone Fred Astaire, but based on my past "DDR" experience, I figured I’d manage to hoof my way through a few of the easier songs.

Then I started the game. Within seconds I was looking at the "Game Over" screen and a surly teenage voice was berating me, "Dude, why don’t you just get up and dance?"

Dude, I’m trying. Honestly.

And so it went for pretty much the rest of my "Pump It Up" experience. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t, for the life of me, manage a higher grade than "F." It became apparent quickly that this was not a game made for my limited abilities.

But on with the descriptions. In "Pump It Up: Exceed," the player matches the quickly scrolling dance steps on the screen via a mat that plugs into the console.

The catch here is that, unlike "Dance Dance Revolution," which has you stepping on the four compass points of the mat, you instead step on the corners and in the center.

The idea is that this simple alteration provides a more intuitive, "dancelike" experience. And I suppose it does, although the moves for each song are so complex that it’s hard to tell. And the inclusion of a step point in the center takes some getting used to.

On the positive side, the songs are considerably better than most of the ones that make up other games in this genre. And the videos that play are visually arresting as well. There were a couple of times where I became so engrossed in the animation on the screen that I forgot I was supposed to be moving my feet.

For those gamers who consider themselves hardcore "DDR" experts, "Pump It Up" offers a nice, challenging break from the tried and true. It’s tailor-made for those who’ve already danced their way through past games and are looking for something new.

The rest of us shlubs, however, should stay as far away from this game as possible if we want to hold onto any self-esteem at all.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005


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