DCRage's Dance Factory Review
Works with any music CD and any dance pad. Potentially limitless replay value.
Major sync problems. Horrible controls. Poor graphics. Clumsy, difficult to use interface. Virtually useless without a sufficient quantity of music CDs.
Based loosely on games like DDR & In The Groove, Dance Factory is an attempt as being able to play these games using any music CD you own. You simply load the game, place any music CD in your PS2, and the game generates dance steps for any or all songs on the CD, which you can then dance to.
The graphics are very simple and poor overall. The step layouts are simple and look too edgy, while backgrounds consist of dull, repetitive patterns like one would see while playing a CD on an Xbox or Windows Media Player. There are several that can be unlocked through gameplay, but all do little besides give the player headaches and cause unnecessary distractions. Sounds are fairly solid overall, the quality of music playback CDs depends largely on your sound system but on a regular stereo TV it's solid and comparable to a normal radio or CD. The menu theme music does get repetitive and stale very quickly though. There are a few sound effects during gameplay but they don't do much to be anythig more than generic. Controls are horrible if you choose to play with the PS2 controller-whereas other dance games let you use the D-Pad in addition to the buttons on the right side, during gameplay here you must use those buttons only, the D-Pad will not work. This becomes very frustrating early on as it essentially forces you to position your fingers awkwardly on the controller buttons, which can be difficult if you have big hands. Being able to use any 4-panel dance pad (those compatible with DDR & ITG) helps a bit, the responses tend to vary depending on the type of pad you're using. Navigating the menus isn't too difficult but renaming tracks and CDs that you've made steps for is very cumbersome because the screen is setup like a cellphone keypad for entering data, so you have to press the buttons multiple times to get to certain letters, very annoying and time-consuming. Gameplay is exactly the same as almost every dance game out there, simply step on the corresponding arrow as it passes through a step zone at the bottom of the screen. The game uses a grading system just like other dance games, and you can earn cash to unlock new backgrounds and customize your dancing characters unlocked by playing your music CDs. As for creating those dance steps, it's not as complex as it sounds-simply load the game, put the CD you want to make steps for into your PS2, then the game does the rest. It can be a little time-consuming though-the average audio CD can require up to 10 minutes to generate patterns for every song, so you need to plan ahead for those big dance parties and allow yourself enough time. What helps pass the time is the game constantly monitors the progress for you, plus you can play a simple yet potentially addicting puzzle minigame while waiting for the steps to be generated. During actual gameplay, there do seem to be notable problems with the sync/timing of the steps generated, they seem to be nowhere close to matching the actual beats of the song. While it doesn't detract a lot from gameplay once you get used to it, at first it really stands out as a problem that should've been noticed and resolved during production. Each song features 3 difficulty levels for all players, and the game also boasts 5 full-length songs to play to, but you'll exahust all the replay value there in about 90 minutes. Saving steps can be done to a Memory Card, although you might want to have a spare card handy depending on how many CDs you want to do, as the average CD will require 250-300KB of space to save steps from each track for. It also is worth noting that if you don't have any CDs to use with the game, all you can play are the 5 default tracks, making the game essentially a worthless disc with almost no replay value.
This game is, on paper, a great idea and very long overdue for those who wanted to be able to have a DDR-type experience with their own music, and for those who have the big racks of CDs to match, there is potentially limitless replay value with this game. But in actuality the game looks and feels like a bit of a rush job that is serviceable but fails to live up to its true potential thanks to the small but noticeable flaws in gameplay. If you have at least a handful of CDs to play with this game is worth trying but rent it first to see if you feel it's good enough to warrant the time required and possibly the cost of extra memory cards for saving your steps after you've generated them. If you have very few or no CDs, don't even think about playing this game, you're just wasting $40 on a game you'll play once for a few minutes then never touch again.