There's always this time of year where all the games released seem to be based on licenses, be it film, tv series or some famous athlete. Don't ask me why, but it just happens and this spring, well you guessed it, it's license time!
Unfortunately, licenses are notorious to be rather naff (despite the odd rarity or two). Fortunately, Girl's Night Out (GNO from now on) is one of the rare ones.
Nothing much in this department. Other than the backgrounds that are average. Your character dances around fluently but you rarely have time to notice her as you're constantly waiting for the vital button combinations. The 3D warp effect mentioned above is nice but lasts for 2 seconds only. They have gone to the extent of adding a wardrobe, where you can choose what to wear. Useless for the game, useful for game girls!
Sounds / Music:
Here the game does perform excellently. The tracks are very good for dance music, and sound great on even the little mono speaker. Strap on some headphones and you'll feel like you've got your Walkman with you. This of course is an essential factor of the game and fortunately they have developed it properly.
GNO is essentially a dance game, a.k.a. a rhythm-matching game that is surprisingly rather enjoyable and taxing. The game follows the traditional formula of Konami's classic Dance Dance Revolution series.
Starting from easy dance tracks you work your way from location to location, dancing around the world. The screen is composed of a left part that is just eye candy, where your character (Mary or Ashley) dances around on various backgrounds. The right side is the important part. Here 3 columns of various signs and arrows descend gradually toward the bottom, where they meet with 3 circles. Once a certain sign has reached a circle you press the corresponding button. As usual, a left arrow means left, a "B" means the B-button and so on.
One of the clever aspects of the game is that your right thumb (the A and B buttons) usually goes to the beat of the drums, while your left thumb (the arrow-pad) usually goes to the main rhythm. Starting fairly easy you get to synchronise your button-pressing with that shown on the screen, the better you do so the better your main character dances on the left. Manage to combine 20 perfect hits in a row, and you are warped into a 3D transition effect that does add a little variation to the simple graphics. Manage to flop most of the buttons and it's game over (a performance bar shows how good or bad you're doing). Each level has its different location and hence background. I wonder how many girls' night out actually goes all around Europe!
The more you progress the more difficult it becomes to keep up, as the music goes faster and the amount of combos that descend on you are very difficult to master. This enhances the longevity of the game. The game does provide some helpful tips between levels, which should be read and not skipped quickly!
Another simple yet effective idea is that depending on what level of difficulty you choose to play, the number of buttons that you are required to press differs. In easy mode you only use the A or B button (depending on which character you chose to play, Mary or Ashley). Choose a more difficult level and you are required to use both the A and B in a game. Further on even the shoulder buttons are there for you to smash on!
Other than that, gameplay wise there is not much more to offer. There are some create-your-own tracks or mixes modes for experimentation.
In a nutshell, GNO is a puzzle game, which borrows allot from Dance Dance Revolution, except the massive footpad.
GNO is a love-hate game, people will love it and others will hate it. I don't think there will be an in between state. The girly image of the game is a mask to a very taxing and enjoyable game if you like the Dance Dance Revolution (or Space Channel 5) style of games. It's easy to learn but takes a long time to master, and will keep you occupied for a good amount of time. Definitely girls will enjoy it more as they relate to the characters and the wardrobe mode, but all in all it's a game for everyone and shouldn't be missed if you're a music or puzzle fan.