Tuesday 19 September 2006
Even though it's officially the best party skill in the world, breakdancing's never really caught on in the same way as other extreme sports. Maybe it's that - unlike, say, skateboarding - you can't buy anything that automatically makes you a 'breakdancer'.
Maybe it's that finding surfaces that won't grate the top of your head off when you spin on them is becoming increasingly difficult in English nightclubs. Or maybe, just maybe, it's that breakdancing is really hard to translate into a videogame.
Not that Sony haven't tried. B-Boy's actually an excellent attempt at translating the complexities of 'power moves' (stuff like swipes and halos) versus the need for 'flavour' (staying on the beat) that faces real B-Boys - tapping the shoulder buttons on the beat keeps your rhythm up, but for the big points you need to transition between moves on the special blue beats, and do tiny micro-games to pull off the harder moves.
Above: Get enough momentum going and your legs will leave trails in the air, just like in real life
As you practice new moves and variations (windmills come in Coffin, Nutcracker and No-Hands flavours), you'll also get the skills to transition between them more fluidly, widening your options and allowing more elaborate combos. It takes a bit of getting used to, but nailing a perfect throwdown's a genuine thrill.
In fact, the only thing that lets B-Boy down is that it feels a little bit... sloppy. From basic game design (the beats are orange and so are half the surfaces you dance on) to silly oversights (you can 'diss' when you're on the sidelines, but you don't get bonus points for doing it when your opponent crashes, which seems like a shame), B-Boy's full of little missed opportunities.
Above: Holding freezes earns you big points, even though it's frowned on in reality
The lack of atmosphere (there's a bit of half-arsed cheering, but no commentator or enormous score counter to egg you on) and the enormous gaps between throwdowns (there's a countdown, whereas in real life B-Boys tend to somersault onto the floor as soon as the last one's done) don't help, either.
Good, then, but not the endorsement B-Boying needs. Like dancing in a club where nobody's really watching, B-boy's fun but flat.