XBOX REVIEW: PUMP IT UP: EXCEED

When it comes to dancing games such as Dance Dance Revolution, I've been called a veritable dancing fool. The only problem is that I can't dance but, man, can I act like a fool.

Pump It Up: Exceed, is based on the incredibly popular arcade dance game that is now available on the next-gen consoles. If you're a fan of DDR and already have your mat handy, I want you to sit down for this next sentence. You must purchase a different mat for this game. Yes, that's right, more expenses must be incurred. I certainly was appalled at first but after careful consideration I've reached the conclusion that this game benefits from the new mat design. There is a button in the center which adds a whole new dimension to the game in terms of flexibility. This isn't just a novelty, which I was suspicious of at the outset, but a significant element that contributes to the evolution of the genre.

To the outside observer the addition of the center button may seem innocuous, but it adds to more moves. There are now five onscreen icons and four combos to watch for. There is one arrow at each corner of the mat. Combos can be made with any of these arrows since you can stand on the center button and any one of the arrows at the same time using only one foot. The center button also acts as a modifier. As you can imagine this will have you all over the map…er…the mat. You'll be doing some mid-air twists and turns which are more akin to that of an acrobat than a dancer. Hope you've got some pretty strong ankles or you might just snap them. Don't worry about the mat itself, it will stay in place due to it's sticky backing, as long as you place it on a smooth surface.

Pump It Up: Exceed features more than 100 songs from the likes of Crystal Method to Elvis Presley. There are also lots of Latin, Hip Hop and Korean tunes, many of which I'm sure you've never heard before but the beats are infectious nonetheless. All of the tunes are catchy and upbeat. The onscreen icon display is much easier to read than that of DDR even if there are more commands to follow.

Though it may be easier to read it's not necessarily easier to beat. Exceed is much more difficult than the standard dance games. The difficulty ranking goes from normal to nightmare and all points in between. Some songs will require a lot of sweat and practice. You're incentive is not only to be the best at parties and head-to-head competitions, which require two mats, but also to compete against the world. If you do well you will receive a 16-digit code that you can enter on the net to post your ranking for the entire world to see. If all else fails, at least you had yourself a good workout.

Background graphics run the gamut from the surreal to the unreal. At no time do they interfere with the icon display but after going through the song a few hundred times you will begin to notice different things going on in the background that will keep your mind off of your lousy technique.

Menus and songs are accessed by the mat. The only downside is that you have to get off of it to select a song so that you're not accidentally triggering any buttons with your big feet. After all that jumping around those couple of steps start to add up. The better the shape you're in the longer you'll be able to play this game. I'm not that old but I'm not in such great shape, but after a few weeks of playing Exceed I expect to be in excellent form. Too bad beach season is coming to a close. They need to come out with the sequel sometime in April next year.

Preview By Chris

Dance games have made the journey from Korea to North America. The games have been a success here and now there is a new one on its way.

Pump It Up is also a successful series that started in Korea. It's more about real dancing and timing instead of just timing like DDR and other dance games that have been released recently. Players will try and match the whole dance routine and their score will be based on the way the hit the right pads and the timing as well. A bit more complicated than the other games in this genre.

Exceed is the latest game from the Pump It Up series. Gamers can expect a wide range of music in the game. Ranging from Dance to pop and a few older songs as well. The real difference between this one and other dance games is the fact the real focus is on the right and exact dance steps. While Koreaese gamers already know the series and the games are in the arcades over there.

Few North American gamers have ever seen this Arcade machine here in the North American market. However, since it seems gamers have taken to the whole dance genre it looks like Pump it Up: Exceed has a good chance here as well. I don't have a full list of features yet. I can tell you that the game will have a worldwide score board for both the PS2 and Xbox version. Take a look at the first Screen shots and watch for an update with all the features as soon as we get them.

System: PS2 (shown), X
Dev: Andamiro
Pub: Mastiff
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Dame
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
3.5