Steps Evolution Online: Fingers Do the Talking
By Mitch Baylosis-Benesa (Syllica), OnRPG Journalist
After I tried out Cubinet Interactive's 3D online dancing/rhythm game, Steps Evolution Online, I was completely reminded of how I used to start finger drumming at church to keep myself from nodding off at early Sunday services. It was a nasty habit but it kept me from snoring. The habit formed pretty much like a conditioned response of any human to an upbeat song—either they bop their heads along or do the jiggy while mopping a wet floor. It was an unbidden response, but it was oddly comforting.
That is basically how Steps Evolution Online struck me. The online game just stuck with the fail-proof formula of rhythm game basics and focused on further embellishing its features. I have to admit that I already had my expectations of this game and thought that it was just going to be one of those generic music games out on the market. Steps Evolution Online pretty much proved me wrong.
Get Ready To Party
In Steps Evolution Online, your life is a party. You have no world to save, no evildoers to be stopped, and definitely no bloodshed. It was honestly a refreshing game to review. I get to play the game and not think about how the virtual world’s apocalyptic fate rests on my poor shoulders. It's just the music, you, and how skilled your fingers are.
Creating characters is a breeze. There is not much available stuff to choose from: a couple of hairstyles in several shades and a couple of tops, pants or skirts, and shoes. The appearances of your characters are limited to cute, naughty and sexy as well, but the item mall definitely provides a lot of items which allow you to make your character unique. Some missions or quests will also yield gifts or rewards that you can use. Quests in this game are not like the typical ones that you get from online RPGs. These are simply missions like finishing a song, achieving a top score, or not having more than 30 misses in a round.
Show Me Your Moves
The game has no tutorial sessions because the controls are, in all honesty, idiot proof. The cursor keys—up, down, left, and right--are your primary controls for the 4Key mode. Just press the appropriate keys on the screen before the meter gets to the part where you have to hit the spacebar. If you time it correctly, you can get a Perfect score which gives you higher points. You can choose to start off easy wherein you only have 1 key to press at the beginning until it becomes 8 keys. Normal difficulty kicks off with 6 keys to input and goes up to 12 keys. The song difficulty depends on the bpm or beats per minute so you can have total control of your pacing.
If you think that this is far too easy for your quick fingers, then the 8Key mode should be a suitable challenge for you. It makes use of the NumPad for the 4 additional keys: 7 for the upper left arrow, 9 for the upper right, 1 for lower left and 3 for lower right arrows. If the 4Key mode is already a feat to mastered, then the 8Key mode will prove an option used by only an elite few.
The Nth Rule: Thou Shall Not Be A Wallflower
Steps Evolution Online is a social game as well and it doesn’t hurt to mingle around as if you are really in a party. While you are allowed to create a room and lock yourself in it while you practice your killer moves, it would be heaps better to have other people join you. One of the advantages of hosting your own room is that you get to choose the song and the stage for the dance face-off. Playing with others can also lead you to try out the Couples Mode where you partner up with the opposite sex and synchronize your steps, sometimes even doing a combo. Who knows, you might hit it off, virtually get married, and be allowed to have a virtual baby (one that can give you stat bonuses).
If you keep on missing the bar and you become frustrated with the cursor keys, you can also try out their Rhythm mode where you can play Drums. This is not as complex as Rockband or Guitar Hero games. It simply has four buttons: D/K and F/J for the small orange and blue beats, and D+K and F+J for the big orange and blue beats, respectively. I actually prefer this mode because this is really like earning points simply for finger drumming.
One thing I appreciate with Steps Evolution Online is that they have featured new music from known Asian artists like Wonder Girls, BOA, Utada Hikaru, and Tae Yang (if you couldn’t tell from the screenshots, this is marketed mostly towards Asia), plus popular artists like Taylor Swift, Ne-Yo, Michael Jackson, Sean Kingston and Lady.
Steps Evolution Online is clearly a step up from old online rhythm games like Audition and HighStreet5 Online. The studios or maps in Steps Evolution are pimped up as some rooms play the original music videos of the artists in the background or have ambient characters cheering you on or playing instruments. The player’s characters also have some good grooves going on. If the videos or other characters bog your game’s frames per second down, you can easily hide or turn off these features.
In essence, Steps Evolution Online is a pretty simple game that tests your hand-eye coordination skills with up-beat trendy music as background noise. However, there are also other features in the game that make you feel more in tune with the world, like allowing you to apply for a home where you can grow your own crops and mine materials. These materials that you reap (or buy) can be merged into items that will help boost two other features in the game: your pets and your baby. Getting married and having a pet or a baby helps boost your stats and raise your popularity.
That’s pretty much the game—nothing more, nothing else. The graphics are not that notable and more like a schoolgirl’s brand of anime dipped in 3D goodness, but nothing spectacular. It also isn’t as intellectually stimulating as other online games. There is definitely no need to strategize but you really have to trust your fingers to at least be skilled in finger dancing and drumming. Steps Evolution Online still clearly has its own charm that makes it quite addicting and not easy to forget.