Super Dancer Online Review – Dancing with Déjà vu
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Have you ever played a game that was such a crude imitation or a complete copycat of another game that made you stop and wonder: Why did they bother making this? Well that’s how I felt when I played Super Dancer Online (SDO). Developed by foreign company named 9you, Super Dancer Online is a PC online music and rhythm game that “borrows” elements from other popular music and rhythm games out there, and when I mean borrow, I mean “completely taken” from. Regardless, SDO attempts to create an all-in-one music game, but does it add enough to these elements to keep it fresh?
Starting out, initial character creation options are limited with three skin types, two body types and a couple of hair and outfits, but even with these small options I managed to find a look that works… Once you have your starting look, you can choose to go through four different tutorial sessions that will teach you one of the more basic game modes available.
However, when I tried to play through the first tutorial, the game client kept crashing on me. I can’t give a definite say on how long it will take an average player to go through, but I’d have to guess that it wouldn’t take very long since it plays out very similar to another, more popular music game. Afterwards, you’ll pick which channel you’d like to play on and enter Modern City, a place that…
Wait a second…
This is strange… Why does this place seem so awfully familiar? Oh yeah, that’s right…
As some of you may have noticed: Super Dancer Online looks and feels like a complete carbon copy of T3 Entertainment’s Audition Online, but that’s not the only thing Super Dancer Online tries to imitate (more on this later.)
From the main lobby, you have access to a ton of options: You can head straight to the dancing hall and challenge other players to a dance off, visit the FAM office (same exact name from Audition) to create a dancing guild, head to “MyHome “and hang out with other players in your own personal space, get some new digs at the Item Mall or even get married and start a family at the Wedding chapel.
Searching for a new look for your character may be a bit of a hassle, since a good chunk of outfits can only be purchased using M-points (real money) instead of G-points (in-game currency). It’s a good thing that these items are only there for vanity and have no stats or abilities. However, pets are also available in the game and these pets DO have abilities that can help your performance in-game.
From a visual standpoint: Super Dancer Online looks EXACTLY like Audition Online in every way, and it doesn’t even try to hide it, from the skinny character models to the soft texturing. Along with this copycat look, it also manages to take Audition’s dated feel along with it. The soft textures are only there to mask how dated the visuals really are. Even though you can turn off the soft texturing, the visuals still look very poor, especially since the only resolution available is 800x600.
If you have a thing for Malaysian pop music, then you might enjoy the music selection available in Super Dancer Online, because that’s pretty much all that’s in there. Very little music outside of Malaysia is available to dance to, and even some of those song choices are kind of average. The actually quality of the music is quite excellent, though, and I found myself humming to a few of the tunes even though I didn’t have much of a clue regarding the lyrics.
Getting right down to the actual gameplay, SDO features a multitude of play options and game modes, many of which were borrowed straight from other music and rhythm games. The primary game modes available (Battle mode, Reverse notes, Showtime) play exactly like one of Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution titles. You use the arrow keys on your keyboard and press each key corresponding to the arrows as they reach the top of the arrow bar.
Shake it, bake it, booty quake it!
If you’ve ever played a DDR game before, you’ll know exactly how to play, and probably you’ll also know that playing DDR on a keyboard or gamepad is boring and silly. These modes are obviously meant to be played on a dance mat, and fortunately enough, SDO has support for those.
I wanted to give the dance mat feature a try, so I borrowed one from a nearby friend and pulled it into my PC using a PS2 controller-to-USB connector. Despite my PC discovering the plugged in dance mat without problems, SDO could not locate the dance mat at all, so I had to “MacGyver” my dance mat to work with the game using JoytoKey. Once I finally got it working, I tried it out and it actually works pretty well.
The other available game modes are also taken straight from other music and rhythm games such as Drum Mode which resembles such games as Donkey Konga and Taiko Drum Master, Gallery Mode from games such as Beatmania & DJ Max and 4-key mode which is the default game mode straight from Audition Online.
Now don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing wrong with any of these game modes in terms of how they play out, because let’s face it: a lot of modern games simply “borrow” elements from other games these days. The main issue I have is that these modes don’t do much of anything to spice up or improve on these elements. The only difference between most of the original music titles and SDO is that you can play online with others. If this was completely offline instead of online, you would just feel a sense of “been there” and “done that”.
Overall, Super Dancer Online offers a lot of content for a music & rhythm game, and it doesn’t particularly skimp on the quality of the gameplay, but with nothing there to spruce up the gameplay a little, it’s all just rich frosting that’s being poured over a hallow cake, but If there’s no possible way for you to play the titles where many of the game modes in SDO originated from, then by all means: give SDO a shot.