Dance games are literally a dime a dozen right now. There are at least 635 games that involve dancing, PER SYSTEM for sale right now at your local GameStop. And since there is such a glut of dance games on the market, publishers have to reach out for different themes, or hooks, to attract the average consumer.
For every Dance Party USA 4, or Stephen Hawking’s Universal Dance, there are seven or eight sequels of other dance games ready to come out. Okay, so Stephen Hawking doesn’t have a dance game… yet.
And let’s not even get into what the advent of motion control gaming has done to the genre. Heck, the Kinect, for Xbox 360 is 97% dance games (the other three percent are exercise games and games involving the slicing of fruit in mid-air).
So, to say the dance game genre is ridiculous is an understatement. I’m not sure there is an adjective in the English language to describe it. One will most likely have to be created.
While we wait for a word to be created, I will review Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked for the Nintendo Wii.
I was never a fan of the Chipmunks. Songs recorded at faster speeds to alter voices was a brilliant idea for a novelty record, and the creator, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (as David “Dave” Seville) should be applauded for creating the phenomenon. From the late ’50s through the ’80s, Alvin and the Chipmunks were a pop culture mainstay. For the record, I always preferred my chipmunks to be of the Rescue Ranger variety.
In 2007, a live action/CGI movie brought the squeaky-voiced rodents back into the mainstream, and now, four years later, the third movie is out, as is the obligatory tie-in game.
Developed by Behaviour Interactive, and published by Majesco, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked is a dance game that loosely follows the plot of the film. The Chipmunks go on a cruise vacation, run into trouble and end up on a deserted island. And apparently this is an excuse to dance.
The game features over 30 songs, and the story mode of the game follows the plot of the movie by tasking players to dance a set number of songs to further along the story. The songs are not tied to the plot points of the movie (the best that I can figure), and are just there to give you something to do between story scenes, which are cartoon panels, and not actual scenes from the film, or even animated cut-scenes.
There is also a free dance mode that allows you to just jump in and dance, without the burden of following a complicated story.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a true multiplayer option. There is, however, a co-op mode that allows multiple dancers to dance to a song, but it involves handing off the Wii controller to your partner(s) mid-song, which is clunky and unnatural.
Seeing as the game has SIX DIFFERENT ‘Munks (the Chipettes are along for the ride, as well) to choose from as your dance avatar, being restricted to one-at-a-time-dancing doesn’t make much sense.
Graphically, the game looks decent on the Wii, as the subject matter doesn’t demand HD graphics, and the sun-bleached locales of the cruise ship deck and the island don’t suffer.
The music is varied, but (much like the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games from years past) uses the same songs that every other dance game uses. This being said, if you only want a game to dance to, this may not be it, because chances are you already have these songs on one of the other thousand dance games that line your shelf.
One thing that stands out is that the songs are not just sped up vocally for the “chipmunk effect,” but the song’s lyrics are slightly altered to fit the subject. During the Culture Club hit, Karma Chameleon, the lyric that should be “Red, Gold, and Green,” has been changed to “Red, Blue, and Green,” which are the colors of the Chipmunks sweaters.
There is an option to earn in-game tokens that can be used to buy new outfits for your Chipmunk avatars, so there is replay value here if you are the creative type that likes to mismatch hats and sweaters with your shoes. This customization also seems relatively deep.
The dancing, using the Wii remote, is actually well done. You move along with your avatar using a dance move icon that scrolls along the bottom of the screen to show you the dance move you should be doing. You can chain correct moves together to charge up your ‘Munk Power meter.
Once you achieve ‘Munk Power, you can free-style dance for a set amount of time for big points. The system picks up the moves with very little lag, and makes for a decent dance game on the underpowered Wii system. In fact, subject matter and genre aside, this is a fun game.
Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked for the Nintendo Wii is a fun game, and seems aimed more for children ages 6-12. Any younger and the player may have issues with the dance moves, any older and the player will get bored with the cutesy songs and the limited cartoony backgrounds.
With no true multiplayer mode, and only 30 or so songs to dance to, the game can get old fast. But until then, it is a fun game to play solo or with a very understanding co-op partner.
Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked is available now. The adjective to describe the massive number of dance games is not.
Click here to shop for Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked on Wii for a discounted price at Amazon.com (November 15, 2011 release date).