Dance Factory (video game)
European cover art
Dance Factory is a PlayStation 2 game developed by Broadsword Interactive and published by Codemasters. It has been compared with Dance Dance Revolution, but unlike the Dance Dance Revolution series Dance Factory can generate dance moves from any music CD. It can be played with any PlayStation controller and allows input from the EyeToy camera, but the majority of gameplay is done with a foot-operated Dance pad and is available with or without a pad in the package.
Dance Factory has a variety of modes:
- Endurance mode encompasses playing through the five licensed songs on the game, or an entire CD from the user's collection.
- Fitness mode is similar to Endurance mode. Weight is entered at the beginning which can be altered to the player's own weight, which can range from 10.00 kg to 200 kg. There is a calorie counter on the screen and mis-stepping displays "Pork Out" and "Gettin' Flabby" instead of "Miss". When a song is finished, the screen shows the number of calories burned and how far one would have to jog, swim or cycle to burn off the same number of calories burnt.
- Creature mode gives the user a dancing creature avatar for each CD (or the one that comes with the five original songs). The initial appearance depends upon the chosen CD but the user can use some of the points earned by dancing in order to buy clothing and accessories for the creature, rather than graphic background themes. These creature accessories alter the appearance of the head, eye, chest, back, waist or wrist of the creature.
- EyeToy mode allows the player to use the Sony camera as an input device as well as a conventional controller or dance mat.
- Multi-player modes include:
- Competitive "battle" modes, such as the simultaneous two-player "Creature Battle" mode, in which combo dance sequences can trigger special attacks
- Collaborative and "Tournament" modes for two to 16 players (taking turns)
Players can enter their own moves for any CD tracks and then use those instead of the automatically generated ones. These custom dances can be shared with other users who own the same CDs.
Dance Factory has been widely reviewed. Without duplicating exhaustive lists and summaries elsewhere, the extracts here show the range of responses. Reviews have been polarized, generally positively by those who appreciate the key USP - the way that it can work with any CD, rather than just a few bundled tracks, and who found it suited their taste in music - but more critically by those who compared Dance Factory with Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series.
The differences stem from the gamut of the game and the tastes of the reviewers. Whereas tracks for other games are chosen and often edited to suit the game, allowing very precise timing and even cues that are not directly implied by the music, Dance Factory works with a much wider range of tempos, track durations and genres than pre-programmed rhythm-action games. But this potentially infinite variety means that results vary - some songs work better than others and certain CD tracks may not be playable at all. UK Official PlayStation Magazine tested with a Let's Speak Spanish disc, with predictable results as that CD was not intended for dancing; more sensibly, a BBC Radio review (referenced below) commented that some radiohead "threw it a bit" but added "then I actually went in and I worked out my own dance steps along to "Paranoid Android" and it's brilliant!"
The accuracy of beat and section recognition depends upon the recording in ways that are sometimes hard to predict. Sequenced tracks with a strong beat almost always work well, but very busy or heavily compressed tracks or those with irregular rhythms can drift in and out of time, making some of the automatically generated dances difficult to perform or hard to learn. It can cope with some tempo and time signature changes, but not all. It cannot resolve fractions of a beat shorter than an eighth note (quaver), whereas some pre-programmed games use sixteenth notes (semi-quavers or demi-quavers), especially at high difficulty levels.
Dance Factory has three difficulty settings but the actual difficulty of the dances it generates is influenced as much by the track it is asked to analyse, so a fast song may be more difficult at "easy" setting than a slow one at "normal" or "pro" difficulty. Players can change the difficulty setting without requiring the game to re-analyse the song.
Reviews of Dance Factory are diverse in both scope and appraisal. Some of the most positive have come from mainstream media rather than gaming specialists, but even the latter have disagreed greatly about both the concept and its execution:
On BBC radio Eurogamer editor Johnny Minkley enthused: "This is brilliant! Dancing games - these ones you buy the dance mats for - Dancing Stage has been the key series for years. And what you've never been able to do on it is use your own music. And this time, for the first time, you can take any CD in your collection, put it in the PS2, and it generates dance steps for you on the fly, or you can make your own. Now, I've been trying this out at home, and ... it works really, really well... it's just superb fun. So if you've ever liked this type of game before, but you've always felt restricted by the songs on there, I mean, this opens up your entire record collection ... it's just brilliant" - BBC National Radio 1, Sarah Cox Show, Tuesday 15 August 2006
The November 2006 review by Mark Blackmore, in BBC Focus magazine, was yet more excited: "Without hyperbole, this is the best thing to happen in all the universe, throughout history, since we emerged from the primordial ooze... if you've never danced to Morrisey while having your PS tell you you're a big fat sod, then you've missed out on one of the definitive human experiences."
The Times newspaper called Dance Factory "an instant classic" and awarded it a generous 5 out of 5 on 16 September 2006: "Although they are guaranteed to deliver a few laughs and lots of energetic posturing, the failing of most dance mat games is the dire selection of twangy hits licensed for the experience. Even Dance Factory comes with just five saccharine offerings, but then turns the genre on its head quite magnificently by allowing players to import their own CD tracks for fancy footwork treatment.
It is not an especially fast process, with a four-minute track taking about a minute to convert for dance mat use, but the options that it brings are limited only by the tracks in your CD collection.... The package also boasts some nifty secondary ideas to help to extend the title's replayability, such as a Fitness mode for calorie counters. Meanwhile, the multiplayer games include a knock-out tournament that can accommodate 16 players in rotation." 
The US magazine Game Informer gave a score of 8/10, saying: "I'm going to go out on a limb here and offend a lot of DDR purists and tell you that this is the dance/rhythm action game you should play this year....So what's the deal? Dance Factory can take any CD you put into the PS2 and transfer all or any of the songs to danceable tracks - and I'm not talking cheap, non-rhythmic versions. The newly created dance tracks firmly match up with the song rhythms, especially if you find music you'd actually dance to in real life. The feature works great, and often creates some stellar fun from music that (gasp!) you'd actually want to listen to!...The game's not perfect by any means, but this is an idea that is long overdue, and I, for one, think it deserves some props."
The October 2006 issue of Games(TM) magazine said "Dance Factory's rather ingenious USP is that it allows you to put any CD into your PS2 and it will convert it into arrows for your dancing pleasure. Simple, but absolutely superb. And it works. After experimenting with tunes from Rage Against The Machine, Air, Metallica, Sway and even a bit of classic old-school house, it would seem Dance Factory cannot be beaten. Using the same technology that fueled Vib Ribbon, the game picks out beats immaculately, creating combo opportunities at every turn. Obviously, not every tune you pick will lead to a perfect 'dance', but half the fun of Vib Ribbon was finding which tunes worked best, and the same can be said of Dance Factory. This is a game that’s all about innovation, and this is the only way in which Konami’s dancing games could be bettered. Dance Factory is a superb product"
Gaming Age awarded the game 83%, braving comparisons with DDR and thereby contradicting other reviews, saying: "No matter where your loyalties lie in the DDR world, there is no denying that Dance Factory is taking the right steps (no pun intended) in designing new ideas that the group of thinkers at Konami haven't come up with yet.... What Dance Factory brings to the table is new features that improve the genre, along with recreating already popular and proven modes for fans of the series." 
Yahoo! Games awarded 73%, saying: "Dance Factory is a clever concept, though it doesn't quite hit the bullseye. Its feature set would really do better on a machine with a built-in hard drive, so you could burn tracks to it instead of endlessly swapping out CDs. That said, it's still impressive what the game does with the PS2's memory and technology -- poor graphics notwithstanding." 
Review scores in the UK and US Official PlayStation magazines differed by a factor of two, the UK magazine awarding 60% and saying, "A clever idea that's a laugh with the right kind of music, but is too random to be anything other than an occasional curiosity" (in October 2006, page 95), whereas the US PlayStation: The Official Magazine rated it just 30%, commenting, "I still think a music-customizable rhythm game could be amazing, but Dance Factory falls short of the ideal." - June 2006, page 94.
And some other reviewers absolutely hated it, usually by way of negative comparisons with Konami titles:
Gaming Horizon scored it 46% and said: "Despite the fact that Konami’s series has a static playlist, you’re better off buying another version of DDR than dealing with this piece of crap called Dance Factory. Or better yet, just pop in a CD and groove your own way." 
G4 TV awarded 40% and said: "The ability to make your own dance patterns is not a dumb idea per se. Dance Factory would be an interesting gimmick if it was attached to an otherwise good DDR clone."
For links to even more reviews, with both positive and negative comments, see Metacritic 
Other quotes, links and background information from one of the developers and a contributor to this page appear under the "Dance Factory" heading near the end of the long page at 
The graphic backdrops are simple and repetitive, especially when the game is first played. They become more intricate and animated in time with the detected beats as the player earns points; some work better than others and sometimes the backdrops can make it hard to see the crucial timing arrows and 'dock' at the top of the screen. The full set of 30 backdrops must be unlocked by earning points in play; you can then choose which backdrop is used with each track, rather than have a random selection.
The graphical limitations stem from the design decision that the game disc is only needed when first loading the game. After that the user's music discs are in the drive, with no need to swap back to the game disc, so all the graphics must be pre-loaded in memory. Since players tend to concentrate on the arrows rather than the background, this is more annoying for spectators than players
Dance Factory has been criticised by some reviewers for being little more than a "novelty" that does not always synch the dance steps to the beat. In their October 2006 issue, Games Master magazine rated the game 68%.
Game Informer stated in its August 2006 issue that the game makes a track based on the tempo of the song and not the rhythm, and that the game seems to lose sync with the notes after about three minutes into a track.
In Dance Dance Revolution games, as on the ADM-3A computer terminal and in the vi text editor, the arrows are in the order left, down, up, right. But in Dance Factory, the arrows are in the order left, up, down, right. This makes the game difficult to play for those used to the arrows of DDR.
- "Dance Factory - Times Online". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Dance Factory Review for PlayStation 2 - Gaming Age". Gaming-Age.com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Dance Factory Review | PlayStation 2 Game Reviews - Yahoo! Video Games". Videogames.yahoo.com. 2012-01-20. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "GameBump - Smartintercept". GamingHorizon.com. 2007-08-07. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "G4 - X-Play - Reviews". G4tv.com. 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Dance Factory (ps2: 2006): Reviews". Metacritic.com. 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- Simon N Goodwin. "Simon N Goodwin's retail software". Simon.mooli.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-22.