Dancing Stage: Mario Mix (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 01.12.2005

Sometimes games companies come up with the strangest of ideas, but they do not always turn out to be complete disasters. However, when it came to light that Konami was set to work with Nintendo on a brand new version of the immensely popular Dance Stage series, featuring Mario, eyes began to roll dramatically everywhere. And in all honesty, after the announcement even stalwart fans such as myself had trouble swallowing the idea easily. Do the two mix better than expected and prove the doubters wrong? Let us take a look...

You may not believe that a story could be worked into a dance-rhythm title, but since this is indeed a Mario adventure at heart there is a wacky little yarn that is spun. A mysterious figure...well, not very mysterious in all honesty...is plaguing the Mushroom Kingdom. The land thrives on its musical rhythm, but disaster has struck as the Musical Keys have been stolen. Therefore, according to Toad who accompanies Mario along the way, the inhabitants are forced to dance around like crazy. Since Toad has no real legs, it is left up to Mario, with his 'less stumpy' ones to boogie through the game and recover the keys.

In terms of GameCube visual prowess, Mario Mix might not be classed as much of a looker when compared to the likes of Zelda, Resident Evil 4 or Metroid Prime: Echoes. However, a lot of work appears to have gone into this outing compared to past Dancing Stage games. In fact, the character models used here are so impressive at times that you could be looking at the likes of Super Mario Sunshine from Nintendo itself. Sure everything might be overly twee and bright, but it is definitely in keeping with the family-oriented theme that runs throughout. The only problems that occur at times are when you have to do manoeuvres not just for arrows when dancing, but for other icons of varying shape and colour (namely Coins, Goombas, Koopa Troopas and Bullet Bills). Increases the difficulty a bit, though, I suppose...

Screenshot for Dancing Stage: Mario Mix on GameCube

Unfortunately the range of tracks found in this edition is more limited than you would imagine considering the amount found in other iterations. However, what is here proves to be a mixed bag erring on the positive side more than anything, thankfully. Amidst the sprinklings of 'other' songs, such as tunes by Mozart and classics like Twinkle Twinkle Litter Star (remixed, of course...but still cheesy as ever), we are clearly treated to a variety of Mario-themed ditties (hence the 'Mario Mix' part of the game's title...as if you had not guessed already!). Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3, Wrecking Crew, Mario Kart Double Dash and Mario Party 5 are just a few of the games where tunes are lifted from, throwing up a real mixture of perfect remixes and those that you really do wish they had merely left alone. With this game probably being aimed at the younger market, though, it is hard to be too harsh as that particular group would likely find it more endearing than cynical old moi!

For those who are coming new to the franchise, it is rather like Donkey Konga with the exception of you use your feet not hands! The game comes bundled with a Mario-emblazoned dance mat that has up, down, left, right arrows, A, B, Start and Z buttons on for you to step on and the aim is to hit the corresponding arrows outer-shells during songs when full floating arrows appear from the bottom of the screen and start moving upwards. These shoot up at a faster rate depending on the difficulty setting that is currently being used and there are all sorts of combinations that you have to perform at times. Many a time you will find yourself jumping around like a crazy person, hitting separate and even double notes to avoid letting your dance meter fall below critical level, thus ending your attempt.

Screenshot for Dancing Stage: Mario Mix on GameCube

Being a Nintendo game, though, it is not all about pure dancing, which certainly adds a nice new aspect to the series. Mini games litter the story mode, as well as Boss battles. The former can actually be quite a nice distraction from the main mode, with Mario being required to carry out all sorts of tasks. Examples include rapidly having to step left and right to escape from an on-coming Chain Chomp, again slamming left and right, before hitting up when Mario reaches a white line in order to jump as high up a flagpole as possible (akin to the Super Mario Bros flagpole at the end of main levels) and even playing a dance version of Whack-A-Mole, stomping on the relevant direction to squash Goombas popping their heads up. And the pleasing thing is that, as goes with the songs as well, once played during the Story Mode, they are all opened up for you to play again and again until your little legs drop off!

As Mario Mix is definitely a beginner's guide to dance mat games, thankfully you are eased into the genre with a helping hand that deserves a heap of gratitude. Rather than the pure dance-fest of other titles, the elements from the Mario world are mixed in to great effect, preserving that feel of 'innovation' as opposed to staleness. Battling bosses such as Blooper, hitting Cheep-Cheep flying fish as they awkwardly twist and turn amongst the oncoming notes, can be great fun and really does test your coordination skills. The same goes for other aspects that appear during the story, with Koopa Troopas that require being hit twice before perishing, icicles that need to be avoided or else they rapidly drain your meter, and even various parts of a rocket that must be hit in the correct order to blast your opponent away.

Screenshot for Dancing Stage: Mario Mix on GameCube

Dancing Stage: Mario Mix might not sound like the most astonishing experience, but for what it is, the game really does excel by giving gamers not only a thoroughly entertaining dance game, but by melding the world of Mario, with its basic story, crazy characters and even special item collection elements it is also a product that most traditional Mario followers can take a slight interest in. Nintendo and Konami make a great team and with any luck there will be an add-on disc similar to with Donkey Konga...

If you buy this and expect the story mode alone to last you long enough to warrant the cost of the package, then you will be sorely disappointed. You could easily breeze through the main story in probably no more than three hours, no matter how rhythmically inept you actually are! And in terms of replayability, the only real incentive is that of the new difficulty modes that open up when the story's five chapters are completed successfully. Thankfully, there are mini-games that take the edge off, acting as nice little ways to pass some time and hone your dancing skills whilst you are at it. The Free Mode and multiplayer antics are the main draw, however, dancing around constantly or attempting to make your friends look humiliated. *Mwah-ha-ha*

Screenshot for Dancing Stage: Mario Mix on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Eyes were rolled and heads hung in dismay when Nintendo first revealed it would be working on a dancing title featuring the star of its platform series. However, Konami's skill in the genre has led to a highly surprising little treat. Mixing some great music, with a mixture of mini-games and 'free' dancing then Mario Mix certainly does warrant at least a try-out.

Developer

Konami

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Dance

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Q3 2005   North America release date Q3 2005   Japan release date 14.07.2005   Australian release date Q3 2005   

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