If you’re a die-hard Grease fan who’s daydreamed about roaming the halls of Rydell high with the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, then Grease Dance is an absolute must-purchase for you. For everyone else it’s not as sure a bet as Greased Lightning, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
At first glance, Grease Dance appears to be little more than a Dance Central homage featuring music from the film and starring cartoon caricatures of the cast. This is only partially accurate; the game does feature a dance mode that is, for all intents and purposes, lifted directly from Harmonix’s smash hit. However, Grease Dance adds in a few things to make the game unique.
While the dance mode takes its inspiration from Dance Central, karaoke mode plays just like the myriad of other singing games released over the past several years: lyrics appear on-screen while a cursor measures your pitch against on-screen bars showing where you should be. The nice thing about karaoke mode is that you can use a USB microphone, the Kinect microphone or a combination of the two for multiple players. A minor annoyance in karaoke mode is that when singing solo, the game doesn’t eliminate background lines and the lone singer is expected to sing each part in songs with multiple vocalists, which can — and does — get overwhelming.
Things get even more interesting when the game allows you to have some players dancing and others singing during the same song, so if your group of friends has people who love to dance but are too embarrassed to sing while others have a great voice but prefer to stay stationary, everyone can still play together. The only downfall to this is that while the dancers retain their entire on-screen display, the singers are relegated to a small icon in the corner of the screen that only tells them how well they sang a line after they’ve moved on to the next. The consistent pitch meter is gone.
Every music game lives or dies by its track list, so in order to get the most out of Grease Dance it’s a requirement that you’re a fan of the source material. The songs from the film alone aren’t enough to fill an entire music game, so the rest of the track list is padded with a few extra songs from around the time the movie takes place including Hound Dog and Tutti Frutti.
An odd design choice jumps out as soon as you start browsing the songs, however; rather than offer you each song and let you choose a difficulty for it, the songs themselves are divided by a fixed difficulty. The game doesn’t punish you for doing poorly so there’s no penalty for stinking up the place by playing a song you like but aren’t skilled enough for, but it’s still an odd thing to see and rather disheartening if your favorite song happens to be above your skill level.
Also worth noting to those who plan to buy the game to play with the kids: the lyrics are not censored in any way, so it’s best not to play Greased Lightnin’ in karaoke mode with the little ones.
Not content with just letting you sing and dance with Danny, Sandy and the gang, Grease Dance also has a mini-game mode, which at this point seems like a legal requirement for a Kinect game. Unfortunately they don’t fare as well as the rest of the package and seem like more of an afterthought than anything.
They’re simple enough to play and understand; they’re just not necessarily very fun. One game, Run for Your Love, has rivals Danny and Tom running on the school track to impress Sandy, requires you to jump over hurdles. The game quickly becomes an exercise in frustration when you realise that the jumping animation is too long for how close together the hurdles are. Several of the games also have issues with registering movements as well.
Despite the games not being as well presented as the rest of the package, they’re still enjoyable with multiple players because the majority offer ways to sabotage your opponent. Even the games that don’t offer it directly have both players moving their hands around so much that they’re bound to wind up hitting each other, which could be good or bad depending on who you’re playing with.
The real problem with the mini-games is that they’re completely random; you can’t choose which one you want to play, so you’ll wind up having to exit and reload the mode and hope it lands on the one you want. Even then the song that plays during the game is random so you could wind up in a wrestling match while listening to Beauty School Dropout. This is even more of an issue when playing a rhythm mini-game game along with a song.
Grease Dance is as good as any video game tribute to the film could be. From the stylish art style to the dance moves to the little bits of fan service sprinkled throughout — highlighting options on the main menu plays notes from Summer Lovin', so you’ll be playing music before even starting the game itself — it’s a no-brainer. For non-fans, however, there are other games that do the same things that will probably be more your style.