The Games Vault: Britney’s Dance Beat

We spend so much time looking at the latest games, and those that we are eagerly awaiting, that we often forget about old treasures.

Gaming platforms, styles, and graphics change immensely. Some are beloved, even decades after their original release. Others fade into obscurity. Sometimes, it can be nice to look back at these games and review them in the modern age. Thanks to all the current hype on social media regarding Britney Spears and her conservatorship, I remembered that I still have a copy of the 2002 PlayStation 2 game Britney’s Dance Beat.

Dusting off the old PlayStation 2 and pulling my dance mat out of the back of a wardrobe in my mother’s house, I decided to give it a shot alongside Feena (8 years old), and a family friend who was a self-proclaimed lover of dance games back in the day. Armed with some dusty, last-generation games and consoles, and with a child who has grown up knowing only the high levels of technology and graphics that we have become so accustomed to, I have delved back into the games of yesteryear.

Firstly, we found the graphics to be quite amusing: They are clearly outdated, especially in comparison to the current high definition we see as standard. The characters were fairly realistic, but the pixelation was incredibly obvious. Still, we could definitely see a close resemblance to the pop princess herself. There also wasn’t much in the way of character selection.

Britneys-Dance-Beat

We take for granted how much free rein we have when creating an avatar to play with nowadays, while in this game, you get 6 characters to choose from. That’s it. No designing their features. No outfit changes. You cannot even set your character name. This, again, showed how much has changed in games in less than a decade.

The voice acting was surprisingly good. While today you may see actors reprising roles of familiar characters, or themselves, the voice of Britney within the game was not her own. Still, the actress did a good job, and it was quite realistic. The gameplay itself was a little tricky, although I’m not sure if that’s down to the game, the mat, or how inept I am at the games. Instead of the usual mechanic, you see in dance games, where the steps rise to the top, this game focused on a circular method where, when a bar hit the step, you had to press it. I failed - a lot. Thankfully, my friend is quite the whiz at these games and made it look easy until you had to perform two steps at once.

This also highlighted the problems of these at-home dance mats. While, in arcades, there would be an indent for step positions on a metal dance pad, and you could easily hit them if you stepped in the direction it asked, the mat proved to be incredibly challenging. Many dance steps were missed due to the small size of the buttons, all the while other buttons were being pushed by accident. All too often, we restart the entire level through accidental pressing, which did get a little infuriating.

Britneys-Dance-Beat-Screenshot01

The worst issue had to be regarding the way the mat slid around, nearly causing us to trip at one point. This meant that precious time on the song had to be spent sorting the mat out. Some problems were completely unrelated to the game too. We all forgot our left from our right the second the songs started, which was particularly funny when Feena was wiggling her leg in the air for a good thirty seconds trying to decide where to put her foot, missing about 25 steps in the process.

For a game that is slightly younger than my daughter, at nearly 8 years old, we definitely had a good laugh. It was fun. We enjoyed it. It allowed the two adults to have a bit of a throwback moment, while the kid got to enjoy some pop music from before she was born. However, I think a modern game would have been more enjoyable. Compared to games such as Just Dance, it does not hold up at all. It’s definitely outdated: both the music and the method of playing. 

It was nice to look back and see how things used to be, but this is one game that, for me, does belong in the past. We may need to invest in modern games as it is clear that, no matter how old or modern, dance-based games are great fun and perfect for parties or spending time together.