Muppets Dance Party

This game is off to a fast start – good, maybe it'll end quicker!

We hate to admit it, but Kermit's gone chav. At least, that's the conclusion we've drawn from Muppets Dance Party.

The frog, previously happy to just be green, is now sporting something resembling a baggy T-shirt, droopy jeans and shiny white trainers. Can the downfall of Western civilisation be far behind?

We hope not, because we've had a blast playing Muppets Dance Party, a deceptively-named and deceptively-difficult puzzler, on our mobile phones lately.

It's set in The Muppet Theatre, which has been turned into a club by Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy, heckling old men usually found hurling abuse from the box seats. Now operating under the guise of Wally-D and StatCat, they're laying down what they think are hot beats, when, in fact, they're stinking the joint up.

So it's up to the blinged-out Kermit and four of his furry friends - Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and Animal - to set things right by dancing their way out of the club and showing Statler and Waldorf what real talent looks like.

Now, you might think that this would come down to a beat-matching game that's based on hitting different keys to the rhythm of the music, and you'd be mistaken. Instead it's the foundation for an incredibly challenging puzzle game.

You're tasked with building combos from the coloured shapes that emerge from Statler and Waldorf's DJ booths and directing them to the three spaces above your dancing platform. You get points for matching colours (for example, three red shapes), shapes (three triangles) or both, as well as other level-specific combinations.

You can send shapes to any one of the three spaces or block them, sending them crashing down onto Statler and Waldorf's heads. But block three in a row and the DJ's will throw in a remix, rearranging the shapes currently above your head like a fruit machine. End up with a mix of three coloured shapes that isn't a combo and you'll hear it from the crowd, losing points and putting yourself in danger of being booted off the stage.

Get it right, though, and hit the required combos, and you'll trigger a dance-off at the end of the level. Complete this and the two old grouches will get zapped with feedback from the sound system, leaving you standing (if not sweating) victorious.

It's just as frantic as it sounds, and it'll take an hour or so of play before everything drops into place and you have an idea of what's actually going on. It's worth persevering with though because the different objectives in each level mean you've got to adopt different tactics. Sometimes you'll need to concentrate on matching colours, other times matching shapes.

Muppets Dance Party is also a glorious feast for the eyes and ears. The game is as bright and brash as the muppets themselves and the music, for a phone, is phenomenal; each muppet has his or her own particular background and soundtrack, as well as three unlockable outfits.

While it might look childish there's a strong element of humour, with Statler and Waldorf trading veiled barbs between each level (Waldorf: "That girl's got chops", Statler: "Can I get mine with some apple sauce?") and, apart from the 'street fashion' that Kermit and co. are dressed up in, it doesn't play down to a kiddy audience.

Indeed, the only criticism to be made of Muppets Dance Party is that it's all over so soon. There are only 15 levels in total (each muppet has three) and you'll have gained access to all five muppets within a few outings.

What makes this briefness worse is that it's such tremendous fun to play. We want more!

8 / 10

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