By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
"Lose yourself in the music, the moment," ranted Eminem. Martha Graham sagely mused, "Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart." Forget the hype you see on MTV with musicians with games. Pop music has become such a fundamental part of video games that tracks in games don't have to be about popularity or pay for play: they're about soul. So, come on, feel the noise.
Those unfortunate wastrels addicted to air guitar can now be savedif they've got the most minor semblance of rhythm. That's because GUITAR HERO, the most unique music-based game of the year, comes with a mini-guitar peripheral. With four colored buttons on the neck that act as frets, you'll move through the rock 'n roll ranks from dingy clubs to giant arenas. With 30 songs from Deep Purple, The Ramones, Joan Jett and the like, you'll be asked to tap your frets as the music speeds up and becomes more complex. If you're off-rhythm and you miss the colors as they scroll by onscreen, your audience will boo louder and louder, eventually leaving the clublike I did when Eminem looked like a poor imitation of Elvis at the Garden last summer. The only downside I could find with Guitar Hero is that after an hour plus of continuous play, my button pressing hand ached like I'd been pulling a sled in the Iditarod.
Everyone knows the DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION craze began in the arcades of Japan. You'd pay your yen and watch the beats and arrows onscreen while stepping on arrows a dance pad. As the movements became more and more intricate, a brand new way of dancing was born. Today, game bundles often include a dance pad and a game, and often the ability to compete online.
DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION EXTREME 2 is chock full of techno tunes and a few originals from Sean Paul and Fat Boy Slim. Here, there are remakes of supersweet superstars from Beyonce to Britney to Christina, 70 songs and 100 minutes of pop dance music. Add the EyeToy peripheral and you can see yourself dance within the game. Too bad the graphics are about a decade old.
DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION ULTRAMIX 3 for the Xbox features more hits by the original artists than Extreme 2, and a Quest mode, missions with a story that lets you dance in clubs in various cities. In addition to the techno and Japanese pop songs, there's a fair amount of rock stuff from Good Charlotte, They Might Be Giants and The Clash. A Freestyle Mode lets your freak flag flydance any way you want: great for me since I'm a spaz on the level of Elaine in "The Little Kicks" episode from Seinfeld.
DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION MARIO MIX for the Gamecube lets you play as all the classic Nintendo characters. While there are only 25 different songs here (why not more?), the story mode feels like a mix of the better Mario games for the GameCube with the addition of dancing. There are five rich environments to dance in, and the movements are never so difficult that a child couldn't feel like a real star.
If you're gonna get wild as in the Rated X Panty Party at Scenic, there's nothing better than KARAOKE REVOLUTION PARTY for the Xbox. With 50 songs and an included microphone, you'll be crooning all night. You can add a "DDR" dance mat and bop around while you sing. Because I love an eclectic song mix, wailing the variety of "Sweet Caroline" and "Pieces of Me" really gets me enthused. Sadly, I can't sing and dance at the same time, but maybe I'm open to singing and sex simultaneously.
All of these games can give you a serious cardio workout that Dr. Phil would say is healthy for the body and the mind. For me, they get me off the couch after watching Lost. Add the laughter that ensues, and they can't be beat for what this sometimes-lackadaisical medium is all about: entertainment. Finally, if you want to step up to a real fitness regimen which purports to get you fit in 12 weeks, try EYETOY KINETIC. Inside the box are an EyeToy and 20 workouts on disk, all with a trainer to help you along. While it's not a dancing game per se, the soundtrack varies from soothing, occasionally boring mood music during yoga to pulse-pounding trance music during cardio workouts. It's the kind of game that I'll pledge to play as a New Year's resolution. But 12 weeks?Check out reviews of all the latest and greatest games (updated every week), along with past faves in NYC Guide.
Xbox 360 Games That Are the Shit
First off, dispense with QUAKE 4; it's not that enthralling on the 360 because the whole concept is of Quake isn't that new. Forget AMPED 3 unless you're one of those addicted snowpunks who feel Adrian Benepe should make a mountain of flakes in Central Park for you to board all winter long. Amped 3 is a convoluted game whose graphics aren't all that.
If you're trying to choose between NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED and PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 3, put on the old Jordans and speed to the store to get the former. PGR3 is a good game, but it feels sterile like Mr. Clean made it. Living in Manhattan as I do, I don't feel the graphics are detailed enough. Of course, I demand a lot: for every store to be labeled, and for every bit of grunge and rust to be shown. I want to smell the acrid stink of the city, and I don't with PGR3.
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