04.17.99 52 gameplay shots | 1 | 2 | 3 More media

   The first thing players are likely to notice upon loading up Bust-a-Move 2 is how little has changed since its predecessor. Sure, the stages are different, and the characters are new, and the music is as catchy as ever ... but it's still the same game. Closer inspection, however, reveals subtle gameplay changes.

   The first is the introduction of an actual scoring system. This replaces the vague "camera movement" system of the first. High-scoring moves actually increase a score, now. Second, attacks and dodges are now relegated to shoulder buttons. This is because the new hardest difficulty, "Mix," wantonly mixes all four directionals and all four buttons for a variety of difficult moves. Each character also has his or her own move list, now, replacing the generic, shared list of the original. Moves no longer branch - you have only one choice of what moves to input. Refreshingly, missing a command set no longer drops you back to ground zero - your dancer stumbles, and moves down a few notches in dance difficulty, but it's nowhere near the crippling mistake it was in the original.

   Also new is a meter affected by the player's Cool, Chillin, or FREEZE combos. Dance to bring the three meter bars to the same height, and you'll unlock secret characters, stages, and more. It's harder than it sounds - a bit like solving a Rubik's Cube, with a partner, while dancing - but the rewards are worth it.

   So far, the GIA has found three secret characters: Columbo (a.k.a. EZ-Mouse), Michael Doi, a Michael Flatley wana be, and a really incredible secret last boss. The music also refuses to leave our minds long enough to form a coherent thought - we take this as a good thing. In short, Bust-a-Move 2 offers little new; just more fun like the original.

Bust-a-Move 2