So another dance title arrives to the Kinect, that’s not surprising. What is surprising is its themed after a very well-known movie, Grease and includes Karaoke. For those unaware of the new title, the synopsis reveals:

Gas up Greased Lightnin’ and get your hand jive ready, you’re about to visit Rydell High! Star in one of the most beloved movie-musicals of all-time as you perform the songs from Grease. Sing and dance to 15 favorites like “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” and “We Go Together,” complete with the real on-screen choreography. Perfect your routines, join the one that you want in duet choreography, and really get down in freestyle sections. Sing and dance in Dance Mode or just belt ’em out in Karaoke Mode. No Grease game would be complete without a Party Mode, where two teams of four can go head-to-head in duet-style play.

Overview

It’s an ok game, its nothing amazing, and it will only be picked up by a few. What is cool about it is it’s authentic from the film as well as the authentic choreography. The gameplay however is not. It is the first dancing and karaoke game combination, as well as some odd mini games mixed in the bunch, unfortunately it doesn’t fare well as either. This one will probably go down in the history books as forgotten.

The Menu

The menu navigation is another hover and lock system. It uses a pointer cursor however and it does feel really fluent and it works well. The menu consists of the following options: Dance, Karaoke, Party Play, Extras and Options. You can even play a tune by moving around the menu, what joy!

Dance

The dance section is primarily for single and duet dancing. Every single dance is made for 2 players, so if you are dancing by yourself, you have to pretend you have a partner when you encounter those songs with specific duet choreography. Most of the songs are locked, so unfortunately to play all of them, you have to spend a little time dancing to unlock them. The good news is you can be very sloppy which I will explain later, so it’s just a matter of time before unlocking all of them. Even though there are 20 songs in the game, you can only dance to 15. It seems the developers didn’t have anyone to create the choreography for the other 5 songs.

You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog...

Songs are thankfully categorized by difficulty level, although I would rate it more as length level. You have 6 “easy” songs which are around 2 minutes or less. 5 medium songs which around 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 minutes, and then 3 hard songs which are like 4-5 minutes if I recall. Songs are all cover versions (I think possibly a couple of the grease ones may be original that don’t include Travolta or Olivia), but it didn’t really bother me, I don’t mind covers as long as they are good and for this type of game, they are good enough. They are full length tracks as well. The choreography is not really that difficult, and it is actual choreography from the film, so if you know the dances it’s not too difficult. They do mix it up a little bit so it’s not as repetitive as Just Dance 3’s choreography, but there are some repetitive routines.

As you dance, there are cue cards to tell you which moves to do. They sort of work, except a dance move will show you to dance to the left, and when it comes up, your dance character actually dances it to the right, but I think the game grades on rhythm not accuracy, so it will still count and you get points for effort at least. The one thing I did find interesting, is this game has you move around on the floor a lot. To counter this, there is a circle under your dancer, when they move, you have to keep up with them and move your circle under them. As long as you do this, and kind of do the required dance move, you will more than likely get a good or perfect on it.

The grading system rates you from Poor, OK, Good and Perfect. There is no limb tracking, and realistically, it felt more like a Wii title because of the arm movements. But as musicals go, it’s usually a majority of jazz hands, you really don’t have to do the leg movements, I tested both using leg/foot movements and not using them and was able to get the same grades, but I’m guessing they were targeting the casual crowd, although I’m not sure how welcoming the casual crowd will be.

Are you really the one that I want?

As for the dance portion, the game plays like Dance Central, they even have a “freestyle” mode which they named “Show Mode”. You get a mini break to show off your moves, the key is to move to the beat, if you do that you gain stars which add a bonus to your score. In the left top corner is a view of you dancing. They do something a little different that I noticed, as you move around and arms flailing, the camera is automatically moving around and zooming in and out on you, keeping you in the center at all times. You do have to play the dance portion I believe 25 times to unlock all of the mini games, so it is a cumbersome task if you want to play all of them, although I put in the effort and unlocked them all so you will know if you want to waste time or not.

Karaoke

In Karaoke mode, you can pick any song to sing. The songs are re-categorized based on difficulty level, which they really are based on difficulty. All 20 songs are available in Karaoke mode. You can sing by yourself or with another person. You can also use a USB microphone or Kinect as the microphone. I tested out both and they work fine, although they both do not care about words or pitch.

Karaoke mode...

As long as you match the words, even mumbling them, it will register. Again, this was probably targeted at the casual audience and most casual players won’t care about how well they do. That is really it for Karaoke mode, you just sing the whole song. There’s no bonuses or freestyle or anything, it’s cut and dry.

Party Play

This mode allows you from 2-8 players to do different things. There’s the Dance option, Karaoke option and the mini game option. In either the Dance or Karaoke option, if you choose more than 2 players, the other players will either sing in dance mode or dance in karaoke mode. It’s really weird, but I didn’t have 4 people to test this out with so I don’t know how well, or not well, it works. If you go the 8 player route, you have 2 teams of 4 competing against each other. It’ll probably cool for a party game, but I have never been in a room with 8 grease fans as far as I know.

Extras

The extras section only contains videos and mini games. The videos are very short mini clips with no sound (no idea why) and the mini games are strange as well. There are 8 videos from the film, however none of them show Travolta or Olivia, I’m assuming licensing fees were not paid to use them. Their characters really don’t look like them in the game either. The mini games were at first welcomed, but once you play them, you are left dazed and confused. I will try to explain, they re-create some of the scenes from the movie, but the way you play them are just strange, also make sure you read the “How To Play” otherwise you are clueless in the game, I missed the help section the first time around and was lost. I do show it in both videos.

Frenchie’s Sleepover – This is the sleepover scene with the 3 girls. You can choose a song to play along to. The objective is to move both hands in the direction of an arrow that comes by. It’s like a lazy DDR using only your arms. In between doing these arm movements, you have to do certain gestures like a pillow fight, or brushing your hair. I definitely lost some man points playing this game.

Greaser’s Garage – This was another odd one. This is where they repair Grease Lightning. Your first task is to bang dents out of the car, you have to guide a hammer over a dent, then a meter appears, when it’s in the white area, you want to push forward like you are hammering, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time. After you get past this portion, you move onto the next which is tightening lug nuts on a tire. The lugnuts go around in a circle like a ferris wheel. You have to line up a wrench on them, when it’s lined up, it stops rotating and you have to tighten them. This barely worked, when it did work, I ended up breaking a lugnut off so I’m not sure if you can only tighten them so much. Honestly, I felt like I lost some brain cells after playing it. After that portion, you move on the final one which is painting the car. You have a spray can, and you spray over the dark portions to get points. You run out of paint fairly quick, so you have to shake the can like crazy to refill it and continue painting. Once you have that part done, the lightning decal outline gets slapped on and you have to paint that. Once that’s done, you paint the body again…Made no sense to me.

Greasers vs Jocks – This is the school sport scene with the 2 guys competing, I forget their names, I only seen Grease twice. This one consists of a wrestling match, which all you do is lunge forward to grab the other guy, and then do a pushing motion to pin him. The next one is basketball which doesn’t work at all. I was able to get it to shoot a few baskets but it’s really buggy. The last is baseball which doesn’t work either. You are just batting and I was only able to hit balls in-field. Somehow the other dude hits homers out of the park.

Run For Your Love – I didn’t remember this scene. You don’t have to run, but you have to jump hurdles. When you are next to the other guy, you can push him although it really doesn’t slow him down. The camera angle is all messed up so it gets confusing on when you are supposed to jump because you can barely time the hurdles. You can change lanes as well. This is a 2 lap race around the school track.

Beauty Sleep – This is the beauty queen drop out song/scene. It’s another thing with the arm DDR thing. I decided to make a video of this one since it’s a familiar scene and it has the weird arrow thing. I do show the video clip in here as well, check it out below:

Rockin’ Rydell – You have to play air guitar and it barely works. They threw in raising the end of your imaginary guitar or lowering it or having it equal to your waist and strumming along to icons that hit an area. I was at the point of just grabbing one of my Rock Band guitars and using that instead.

Hand Jive Hop – Another DDR one, except instead of arrows it’s this circle bass speaker thing, this is the hand jive scene with Travolta and Olivia, although both characters really don’t look like them.

Thunder Road Race – This is the racing scene with Grease Lightning. It again is strange. You steer with a steering wheel gesture, which kind of works, you basically use it to change lanes. It wants you to shift though to change gears, and doing it at the right time gives you a boost. To shift, it wants you to grab an imaginary stick and pull it back. This one barely works as well. You can also ram the other guy, to try to slow him down, but it does nothing. If you can get the shifting thing down, you can win.

Options

The options are just the sound effects and music and credits. Nothing else in this one. I was looking to see an option to turn the freestyle mode off or turn off the lyrics since they are on EVERYTHING and get annoying.

The Controls

The menu is probably the thing that works best in this game. As for everything else it needs help. The mini game gestures are very clunky. The dancing detection is strange although, if the actual target is casual gamers, then I can understand so I can’t completely write it off. The singing portion is ok, but again it could be targeted to the casual audience.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are kind of better than the regular avatar graphics we have been getting. I didn’t feel like a little kid playing with these avatars, maybe Microsoft should take a note. Most of the tracks do use covers so don’t expect high quality here, but they do sound fine for the job. None of the characters really talk, they speak like a Sim, I think a couple have a 3 word sentence but their lips don’t move when they talk. All songs are played in the background scene in the movie and fully animated. The characters even have the correct hairstyles/clothing that they wore in the movie, which again, the authenticity is there.

Gameplay Video

Here’s another gameplay video I created. I only did this song once before I recorded it, so don’t mind my sweet dancing skills. It does help show you how wacky it is though as I’m clearly not doing moves right and it still marks a perfect for me. I also purposely did not do a lot of leg movements to also show how lazy it is. I didn’t want to reveal my secret skills so I didn’t during the freestyle section either 😛 Last note, I didn’t catch it until I recorded it, there is foul language in this video due to the grease lightning song, the game has a rating of T, although the words used I don’t think are appropriate for teens.

Tracks

Another noticeable mention, no site has listed the tracks on this game. Usually track lists play a part in the music genre, here they are though, a 123KINECT exclusive 🙂

  • Grease
  • You’re The One That I Want
  • Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee
  • Hound Dog
  • Summer Nights
  • Greased Lightnin’
  • Sandy
  • It’s Raining On Prom Night
  • Beauty School Dropout
  • Long Tall Sally
  • Rock Around The Clock
  • Tutti Frutti
  • Those Magic Changes
  • Jail House Rock
  • Yakity Yak
  • Rock & Roll Party Queen
  • Born To Hand Jive
  • We Go Together
  • There Are Worse Things I Could Do
  • Hopelessly Devoted To You

Conclusion

It’s an ok game for casual gamers or hardcore Grease fans. The avatars are cooler than our regular avatars in my opinion, the idea is decent although it’s just too limited. If they combined Grease 1 and Grease 2, it probably would have made a better game. I can’t really downgrade it for the dance/singing controls as I’m almost positive this is for the casual crowd and for them, it will work fine. I do not see any future for this title, there is nothing that shows any future of DLC either, so 20 songs is it, make sure you really like them. Also don’t plan on learning the routine to Jailhouse Rock for example, and pulling this off at a club/bar, maybe at a wedding, but taking this game into the real world might disappoint some as they are all basically 50’s style choreography. My final note, if you do purchase this game, buy it with CAUTION, you have been warned…


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Grease Dance
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?