Oct 29, 2014Let's put this straight now - I am a rhythm game expert. I have been for ten years. I've gotten AAA's on over 300 DDR songs, I've beaten Jordan and TTFAF on Expert in Guitar Hero and I can clear Mei's Another chart from Beatmania IIDX. So was I biased coming into ITG? Eh. Kind of. Music games are my favourite genre, so there would've had to be something SERIOUSLY wrong with the engine orLet's put this straight now - I am a rhythm game expert. I have been for ten years. I've gotten AAA's on over 300 DDR songs, I've beaten Jordan and TTFAF on Expert in Guitar Hero and I can clear Mei's Another chart from Beatmania IIDX. So was I biased coming into ITG? Eh. Kind of. Music games are my favourite genre, so there would've had to be something SERIOUSLY wrong with the engine or the tracklist for this game to get a bad score.
The most important part of the game - people often say - is the setlist. I personally believe it's the controls, but let's take a look at the songlist. Headlining the game are songs from people like Inspector K, ZigZag, KaW and Vanilla Ninja. Yes, THAT Vanilla Ninja. European players will recall them being in the Europe version of DDR called Dancing Stage. And, for some reason, it's the same song (Tough Enough) in Dancing Stage AND In The Groove. Lazy.
The game includes four songs from the arcade In The Groove 2, but... it's the last four songs anyone would've asked for. Summer ~Speedy Mix~, Onyx, Energizer and Robotix are the songs that would come to mind in my head, but apparently someone asked for Wake Up instead. The songlist also seems to be heavily dominated by hardcore music, and while I'm for that personally all the way, there's no doubt some people will be disappointed by the lack of other genres. And ridiculously, possibly the most famous song in In The Groove, Liquid Moon, is used as menu music but CANNOT be played. What reason is there for this?
Onto presentation, and I'll give the game this - I like the beautiful simplicity of the presentation of the game. There's no crowd noise, no bangs and whistles, and no annoying announcer to remind you for the millionth time that "You're dancing, you're moving' you know this party's groovin'!" While some people would dislike the minimalist style the game goes for, I absolutely love the way the game looks. I prefer the arcade's presentation to the PS2 version, but it's still rock solid.
You may be thinking there isn't a lot different between this and DDR, but there are a few additions into the game's mechanics to make it seem fresh. There are 'Hands', where you must hold down two freeze arrows and hit a third arrow. There are 'Mines', which you must avoid stepping on unless you like losing score and a lot of your life-bar. And there are 'Rolls', which are freeze arrows but with a twist; Holding down on the step will drop it. You must continue to step on the freeze arrow until it ends for it to give you the 'Yeah!' for the arrow.
You might think all these additions are stupid, but they're actually additions that make a big difference in how the game is played. And, hey, if you don't like them, you can always turn them off in the options menu. There are also the traditional 'nonstop' and 'challenge' modes, where you play through a series of songs without stopping (The latter having preset modifiers to trip you up) and there are also a good amount of options in the menu before a song. Still, it would be nice if there was a .5x setting for each speed mod (5.5x, 6.5x...) but they surely couldn't do anything and everything anyone wanted.
Sadly, there are a few minor issues with this game. The loading times are absurd, and when compared with DDR EXTREME (JP) or DDR X2, kind of ridiculous. Dance Dance Revolution can load quickly, so why can't this? And it suffers something major - The tracklist when compared to DDR EXTREME (JP) is very, very small. There are around 70 songs in the game, and DDR EXTREME has over 200. While this is because DDR likes to keep the old songs from past DDR's and keep them in the new releases, it still sucks that there aren't many songs in the game.
But overall, this is a fantastic music game and it's a damn shame there won't be anymore efforts by RoXor like this. As of 2006, Konami sued RoXor, won the rights to ITG and it doesn't look like they'll be doing anything with them. But thankfully, there is a free game on PC called OpenITG, an open source In The Groove. Members of the ITG community like WinDEU, Spork, DJ Aftershock and many more release songs and song packs for the game frequently, so there will always be more for you to play. Now that OpenITG exists, this game is kind of irrelevant, but it's still one of the best rhythm games on the PlayStation 2 and well worth the money to purchase.
At the very least, you'll get that menu music stuck in your head forever...… Expand