• Marrying different game genres together is a risky business. For instance, no one would really want to play a Bemani-style game spliced with a “match three colours” puzzle fest would they?

    Developer Little Boy Games obviously think you do, because Go Go Break Steady does just that, dressing itself up in faux-cool street-style graphics, mixed together with first-year urban music project tunes.

    So lacking stunning visuals and phat beats, the game has to rely heavily on its gameplay to try and rescue its skinny white ass, and with a little more care and attention it might just have pulled this off.

    Go Go Break Steady

    Go Go Break Steady is a combination rhythm and puzzle game that takes a gang of misfit dance characters and faces them off against each other on the streets. The likes of Coco, Hydro and Slim have to swiftly match button presses to scrolling symbols in time with the music. In traditional Bemani style, the player needs to nail each passage of rhythm action perfectly to collect Beatniks. These weird little creatures can then be slotted into a circular puzzle frame. Match three beatniks in a row and they’ll be removed from the frame. Do so in a way that triggers multiple combinations and you’re on your way to a place in street dance history.

    The characters are a little on the ugly side, lacking more than a few frames of animation each. This gives the game a rather stilted and jerky feel and you’ve only got to scroll back in History ten years to when the West effectively fell in love with Bemani stuff like BeatMania, Dance Dance Revolution and Parappa the Rappa to see that Go Go Break Steady seriously lacks graphical punch.

    If a Japanese developer had approached the whole project, things would’ve perhaps been a little less clichéd and lightweight and this lack of charm doesn’t really do Go Go Break Steady any favours.

    The music’s no great shakes either. Though there are 20 different tunes in the game, they’re all a little bit too “by the numbers” to have any appeal to even the most fervent fan of hip-hop or dub. The music’s not memorable in any way and doesn’t help you maintain any kind of flow during the rhythm sections of the gameplay.

    Strangely though, an hour into the game something odd happened. I found myself being drawn into trying to work out what the designers intended to do with this meshing together of genres, and that dark little sharp toothed creature, addiction, sunk its teeth into my thumbs. You see, despite the naff visuals and duff tunes there is something relatively unique on offer that would form the basis of a good game design if given a shot of adrenaline. Ramping up the difficulty level switches the button-matching sections from being short sharp bursts of boredom into tricky little tests of coordination. This in turn has the knock-on effect of making the puzzle frames trickier and more hazard-strewn, dare I say even a little challenging.

    Go Go Break Steady at least offers plenty of modes to tempt you in, with straight-laced tournaments, timed challenges and multiplayer face-offs (sadly, in common with a lot of recent XBLA titles, no one in the world wanted to play this LIVE so I ended up roping my long-suffering other half in for a bit of local multiplayer).

    Having played rather too many rhythm action games than is healthy for a veteran gamer, and pleading guilty to having a penchant for stuff like the classics mentioned earlier in this review, I can’t help but feel the title tries to be a jack of all trades and ends up mastering none.

    With its basic flash-game-like presentation and a lack of musical hooks this title might well have worked better as a cheap and cheerful portable game, or a freebie popcap-style distraction to play during lunchtimes on your PC at work. As an Xbox Live Arcade title, and priced at 800 points the scales of rhythm and puzzle gaming justice render a verdict of “diminished responsibility” and consign Go Go Break Steady to the swiftly played and forgotten pile.

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