Forget cheese and wine – these days, France's biggest export is dancing games. Ubisoft's been leading the charge with the Just Dance titles and Michael Jackson: The Experience. Now here comes Dance Paradise, a new offering from Mindscape.
You know, Mindscape – the people who brought us U Sing 2, Mon Premier Karaoke and Karotz: Lapin Intelligent. Mindscape – a company so French they haven't even bothered putting an English translation option on their website.
Dance Paradise presents a new twist on the motion-controlled dancing game genre. Unfortunately, it's a stupid twist no-one asked for and no-one will want.
As in other dancing games, you must copy the moves of an on-screen character accurately to score points. But in Dance Paradise, up to four avatars will appear on the screen at once. They dance down separate catwalks towards circular podiums. Only when a character reaches the podium do you perform the move.
The concept is clearly borrowed from Guitar Hero, the idea being you're able to see what's coming next and get ready for it. But in reality, trying to keep track of all the avatars can get confusing.
It's also tiring to have to keep switching your focus between podiums, and hard to get a real rhythm and flow going. When it comes to the harder routines even serious dancers will end up frustrated, while younger players will really struggle.
It doesn't help that the Dance Paradise avatars have neither the charm of Just Dance's real dancers nor the smooth moves of Dance Central's CG groovers. They're weird blank mannequins with square heads and cuboid limbs. The moves they perform are stilted and formulaic, and in no way resemble the kind of shapes you'd want to cut down the local disco.
At least the track listing is all right. There are 40 songs to choose from and they include modern hits like Lady Gaga's Bad Romance along with timeless classics such as U Can't Touch This. As this is a French game, there is of course some Daft Punk. Plus the actual videos are included on the disc – not that you'll have time to watch them when you're trying to keep an eye on four separate avatars.
There's a decent single-player career mode which presents you with specific challenges, rather than just demanding you score a certain minimum on each song. The three multiplayer modes allow two players to dance at once, unlike Dance Central. Attack mode is the most fun, allowing you to battle your opponent with power-ups that make their instructing avatar temporarily vanish and so on.
But ultimately, the silly multiple-avatar system and poorly choreographed dance moves let Dance Paradise down. The routines just aren't that much fun to perform or funny enough to watch. Young kids and badly co-ordinated adults will end up so frustrated they won't want to play, which ruins if for those of us who are spectacularly, unbelievably good dancers and enjoy laughing at them.
Another boarding game! And yes, it's just like Sonic Free Riders! Except Sonic and the stupid albatross have been replaced by a weird green wolf thing and an annoying surfer dude monkey. And the tracks aren't as good. And the power-ups are duller. And it looks horrible.
The control system is slightly more responsive. But this is like saying it's easier to perform keyhole surgery with your hands encased in oven gloves than clogs. Crossboard 7 is still inconsistent when it comes to recognising your movements or interpreting them with any degree of subtlety.
There are some different worlds. There are some alternative game modes. There is a two-player option. Why am I telling you this? We both know why. You don't care. I don't care. But one of us has to fill up the rest of the space on this page.
Can't we talk about something else? I don't mind what. What are you doing for Christmas? I think I'm going to eat a load of food and drink so much I cry when the X-Factor winner's single comes on the radio.
Do you want to come round? We could play Monopoly. Or RISK. Or Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan or Hungry Hippos. I don't care, so long as it's not Crossboard 7.
Merry Christmas, everyone!