Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Unison: Rebels of Rhythm and Dance

Developer: Tecmo
Release Date:
March 22, 2001
Official Web site

In a nutshell:
Part Space Channel 5, part Bust a Groove, all wacky Japanese rhythm craziness.

0:01 OK, we're building a female dance trio. Blonde, check. Red-head, check. Blueish-green-haired girl... uh... check?
0:02 For a PS2 game, this intro. music sounds like it could come from the SNES. Not that that's a bad thing.
0:03 "High-tech celebrity city twin ships" is the setting, apparently. Two hundred years in the future. Dancing has been outlawed. "Stay tuned for the rest of the story." Do I have to?
0:04 This is some of the worst voice acting I've ever heard. The story itself is stilted and cliche but endearing in a Japanese way.
0:05 "According to my research, young people used to dance to this music." They have Wikipedia 200 years in the future?
0:06 The game throws you into practice mode without telling you what to do. Luckily the interface makes it pretty obvious.
0:10 Unlike every other rhythm game ever made, there's no indication of what move is coming next. This means you have to practically memorize every step in the minute-and-a-half long song. ARGH!
0:14 After practicing a few times I've got "Y.M.C.A." down enough to score a B in practice. Time for the broadcast.
0:16 The cut scenes make my brain hurt. What am I auditioning for? Why do all the bad guys saying "like" and "y'know" constantly?
0:19 I get another B. More cut scenes? Is this a game or a campy movie? Or both?
0:21 "This month we caught 20 people dancing up a storm." "Dancing leads to unhappiness" Definitely some quotable moments.
0:25 The second song is a good deal more complex then the first. I'll have to practice section by section.
0:32 Whoever thought it was a good idea to practically force players to practice for ten minutes and watch five minutes of cut scenes for each minute of actual gameplay was nuts.
0:35 The dancer animations are very fluid, and match with the input well. I wish I could just watch them instead of paying attention to the actual game.
0:40 More cut scene craziness. Why does the guy with the Afro keep stressing that if I fail "it's game over"?
0:42 The endless practice pays off. I get an A in the main performance. 94%!
0:43 The cheesy voice acting is growing on me ... it matches the cheesy story. Also: The main bad guy seems to have a duck fetish.
0:45 I get the feeling this game was trying to be Space Channel 5 but didn't have the style to pull it off.
0:46 The canned laughter and applause in the cut scenes is just precious.
0:48 Despite the completely Japanese feel to everything in the game, the music is good American party standards. I love the We are Family remix for song three.
0:54 You know what would make this game much better? The ability to freestyle.
0:59 After ten more minutes of practice I'm ready for more ... cut scenes.
1:00 A crushing scene of parental indoctrination. "Only bad girls talk like that," a father scolds Unison-loving girl. If she's talking about the game, I'd have to agree.
1:02 Only 70% this time. The steps are getting more and more intricate.
1:03 "If you dance you'll grow up to be nothing." Was the designer of this game a failed Broadway star or something?

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Maybe
Why? I have a perverse need to see the rest of the cut scenes, but I'd much rather play Space Channel 5 than sit through more memorization.

This review is based on a purchased, used copy of the game.

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