Abarcy

Dance UK

The first thing you notice about Dance : UK is that the dancing directions come in a slightly different format from most dance games. Instead of arrows scrolling vertically up the screen, they move outwards from the centre onto an image of the eight-way dance mat. It takes a little getting used to.

There's a tutorial which is supposed to help you learn how to play the game, but in practice it's little help. The whole tutorial happens at once rather than taking players step by step through the moves, and if you get things wrong it doesn't stop to let you go over it again. This is unfortunate because Dance : UK is one game where a gentle introduction would help. Even at the easy level there are songs which require you to use your feet and hands in quick succession, and occasionally the combinations are frankly unrealistic.

In aerobic mode there are only 15 of the tracks to choose from, and each track comes at only one level of difficulty. So the Sugababes Round Round is always at the "high burn" level in this mode, for example. But why separate calorie counting from the main games at all? There's no reason why the total score couldn't include a count of calories burnt at the same time.

The Jukebox mode is there for practice, but if you want to progress and unlock all of the tracks you need to play the main Dance : UK game. There are three auditions of three songs each, followed by five dances in the grand final, making 14 songs in all to complete. The tracks get progressively harder, although there is some choice of which ones to play, and during the final there's no chance to pause and catch your breath. You will need to hold your feet down on the pads for timed periods, and perform combos for extra points, so the gameplay is fairly varied.

Ultimately it's the music that matters most for a game like this. The selection is intended to appeal to a broad range of tastes, so it won't please everyone. Some of it is good, some bad, some indifferent. Most people should find something in there that gets them moving. Big names include Mis-Teeq, Liberty X, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Five, Sugababes, The Trammps, Daniel Beddingfield, and Jose Guadaloupe. About 7 of the tracks are by Tracy "TJ" Johnson and presumably written for this game, and they're generally inoffensive, if not exactly chart-topping material.

There seem to be some issues with saving scores to memory cards, the autosave does not always give out an error message when the scores can't be transferred to the memory card, which they won't if there is not enough free space. After you complete the game at any difficulty level, the extra tracks and dance recorder become available. Getting to this point is fairly challenging, so most players will find that Dance : UK lasts well. It has a reasonable range of music and different features, so in spite of a few problems this is a worthwhile game for the dance mat.