EyeToy: Groove

With its capacity for motion tracking and sound detection, the EyeToy lent itself to plenty of exciting possibilities for interactive play. When it was released it was one of the most progressive peripherals since the joystick. Immersive adventure, sports games, music, puzzles and precision timing: all of these could be combined to create new gaming experiences. So it's hard not to be surprised by EyeToy : Groove's sheer lack of innovation.

EyeToy : Groove is a pure dance game for the EyeToy. That's it. No narrative, no characters or help buddies, and not an awful lot of variation in the gameplay. You simply dance in front of the camera, using your arms.

The game sticks closely to the formula used in many dance mat games. Circles fly out of the centre of the screen towards six buttons around the edges. Reach out and touch the buttons as the circles hit them in order to gain points. Timing is crucial if you want to get a high score. As well as moving in time you will also have to hold a pose, follow arrows, and keep your hands moving over the buttons for a period of time. Most songs also have a freestyle round, where you can earn extra points by moving around as much as possible.

Unfortunately precision is one of the EyeToy's weaknesses, so unless you can play against an entirely single-colour background with perfect lighting, you will need to get used to some inaccurate scoring. Another niggle is having to input your name each time you get a top ten score, rather than playing with a profile so your name is loaded automatically. This can become tedious, especially because the control buttons are less responsive than they are in other EyeToy games.

Gameplay is done at dynamic, easy, medium, hard, and master levels, and you can also create your own dance routines. Master level has to be unlocked for each song, and it has the same moves as hard level but with a shorter warning time. There are also five bonus tracks to unlock, which is relatively easy to achieve. Other than that there isn't much of a sense of progression, it's mainly a matter of reaching your own personal best.

Group Groove is the multiplayer section, and this introduces a bit more variety. You can pit one player against another one at a time, or two can dance together, either working together or trying to outdance each other. Tournament mode introduces a number of games such as Copycat, where you must remember a sequence of moves, and although timing is not important you have to see how far you can go without making a mistake. Other Tournament games are Tag, Perfection and Frenzy.

EyeToy : Groove is full of extras. On the Options menu there's video messaging, very similar to the messaging on EyeToy : Play except that in this game there's only one choice of background. During play EyeToy : Groove will automatically take embarrasing pictures and videos and if, for some reason, you choose to save any of these they will become available in the photo album. There's also a Chill Out Room where you can watch music videos for nine of the tracks, look at the visual effects on their own, listen to the music, view the credits, or put on a random playlist. Another extra is the ability to record your own dance routines, and if you have enough memory card space you can record several routines for each song.

All of the 25 songs are chart hits, from oldies by Kool and the Gang and Elvis to newer tracks from artists such as Fatboy Slim or Daniel Bedingfield. Aside from some dubious choices like the Cheeky Girls and YMCA by The Village People, there are plenty of tracks which have general appeal. Most pop fans should find something to enjoy. Yet no matter how good the music, EyeToy : Groove is a game, not just an album, and the repetitive gameplay means that it soon loses its attraction. The large number of extras don't really disguise this weakness, so overall this is a disappointing title.