There's a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous, and breakdancing illustrates it perfectly. It can look awesomely cool, as in '80s hip-hop videos - where two groups of baggy-jeaned young 'uns square up to each other and assert their superiority by flailing about like an epileptic octopus. But it can be cringingly bad, like when your uncle's had a couple of cheeky sherbets too many and wants to show he's still got it.
It's a similar situation with danceaction game B-Boy. It could be brilliant, it could be bloody ridiculous, and part of the fun of playing it lies in the idea that it could be one or the other - or even both.
The Livin' Da Life mode is B-Boy's career option, where you create a breakdancer then go through a series of face-offs (called throwdowns) and tournaments to increase your respect among fellow body-poppers. It's bog-standard stuff and it's been done hundreds of times before, and you've even got a PC which is flooded with emails every time someone wants to take you on.
The control system is bewildering at first, but soon makes sense. There are four base moves to which more moves can be added to make for throw down winning breakdancing, and more are earned whenever you beat an opponent. The moves list is enormous; there's plenty you can use to mix up your spot in the limelight, and they certainly look impressive - every last move has been captured from real pavement lickers, and the result is a richly animated game.
Sequences of moves are pulled off to the rhythm of whatever tune is playing (all of which are top choices). Your B-Boy is surrounded by a ring of coloured blocks, and hitting the right block at the right time ensures a move is successfully incorporated into a throwdown. You have to be bang on with your timing as very little leeway is given, so if you're even a little bit out the game is practically a waste of cash. If you do get into the swing of it a throwdown full of backspins, Australian windmills and turtles will be mastered and you'll power through the game.
B-Boy is a novel concept, but is also limited in gameplay terms: dance, earn moves, dance some more, earn some more moves and climb up the respect ladder. It's fun while it lasts, but the novelty soon wears off. It's authentic, and paints the culture of B-Boying in a great light, but it becomes just a little too b-boring, too quickly.
Even if you're not a fan of the culture, this is great weekend rental fodder, but no more.
- Hugely varied throwdown moves
- Nice change from shoot 'em ups
- You dance, and that's it
- What about multiplayer?