And we’re back, for round two.
February 19, 2008
First, some important news: We’re back to reviewing adventure games here at Yesterday’s Salad. While we’re happy to give folks what they’ve been clamoring for, readers should be aware that every review we post comes at the expense of a medical school factoid; so, we hope no one is getting too attached to their left recurrent laryngeal nerve for the moment. And, now for something completely different. For reals.
ProgZmax, noted sprite guru and talented adventure game developer (creator of Mind’s EyeMind’s Eye, reviewed here) asked me earlier (much, much earlier) if I’d be willing to do a review of an earlier effort of his, Dance ‘Til You Drop. While there were a few games already on the reviewing docket, I said that I’d get to it at the soonest opportunity. The soonest opportunity presented itself, and I was all ready to play the game, until I found out that it featured none other than Richard Simmons as a protagonist, and I ran in the other direction, screaming.
It’s not that I have a personal animus against Richard Simmons, who is by all accounts a kind-hearted man with an outsized personality (and considerable capacity for self humor). It’s just that he evokes a certain spirit of the ’80s (or to use a more acceptable term around here, zeitgeist) that I’d rather shove down in a deep dark corner… and pretend was lost in a fire when asked about it in polite conversation. But, in the course of bringing sexy back to Adventure Game Studio reviews (was it there in the first place?), I figured that I owed ProgZmax one.
So, as I mentioned before, Dance ‘Til You Drop puts you in the shoes of Richard Simmons, as he attempts to juggle the double duties of managing his ailing dance studio, and trying to go above and beyond the call of duty (which is leading step aerobics) to help the less-fortunate. While this may beg further explanation, for the purposes of this review, I will stick to paraphrasing the plot; to reveal more would spoil the fun and surprise, as Dance ‘Til You Drop succeeds primarily as a quirky admixture of hi- and low-brow farce.
The graphics are appropriately retro, and are lo-fi in regards to color and resolution, which might not be everyone’s liking, but they are unquestionably well-executed. Similarly, the soundtrack relies heavily on what I presume are Simmon’s regular fare, which is similarly subjective. Yet, having conferred with a colleague who has a phD in retro, I can assure you that the selections are perfect for the setting.
Fans of Mind’s Eye might be a bit disappointed to find that the puzzles are a little less sustained that in the later effort. While Dance ‘Til You Drop is not quite as substantial as that later title, by no means should you should write off as mere juvenilia. The puzzles are generally strong throughout, though somewhat sparse, and they cohere well with the plot and the overall tone of the game. To wit, they provide a reasonable challenge, and at the same time, manage to strike a good balance between the credulous and the ridiculous. Considering the plot, the combination is pitch perfect.
If you like adventure games, and thinking about the eighties doesn’t have you dialing your analyst and therapist (please not to combine), Dance ‘Til You Drop is recommended. •