Put on your dancing shoes for Dancing Craze.

Alawar has just released a new installment of the “Craze” franchise, namely Dancing Craze. This time you have to help Maria and her friend to open successful dancing studios, instead of caring for pets, managing fashion boutiques or running beach resorts.

In Dancing Craze the player leads Maria through 40 levels spread over four different dance studios. For each service Maria performs you earn money, which you need to reach the goal of any level. Those services include delivering smoothies, soda drinks, towels, or helping customers individually to learn dancing. Smoothies can be prepared by clicking the correct type of glass, a fruit, and then the smoothie machine. Other machines have to be refilled after a certain time. Some customers might also wish to get a massage, or to work out on a fitness pad, but only if you already offer these stations in the current studio.
Dancing Craze
How much you earn depends on a lot of factors, which makes gameplay deeper than that of your average time management title and allows comparisons to Playfirst’s dash series. The patience of your customers indicates how much they will pay, which is shown by the number of hearts attached to each customer. Furthermore, you can chain as many actions as you want to in advance, and chaining the same actions – for example, delivering beverages or collecting cash – will increase the amount of money you earn from that action regularly.

The most welcome introduction is without a doubt the ability of color-matching. For each customer whose clothes’ colors match the color of the dance pad you put him or her on, you will earn money according to the multiplier attached to that pad. This can earn you huge amounts of money, but also complicates gameplay, since it is always a fine line between color-matching and customers losing patience while waiting for the appropriate pad.

The charm of Dancing Craze lies mainly with the various dancers, who each perform one particular dance style with smooth animations and realistically drawn figures. Each type of dancer has his or her own personality, too. Not only do they differ in patience, but they partly affect customers dancing next to them. The wave-dancer for example is so impatient that he even decreases patience of nearby dancers. C-walk dancers on the other hand don’t mind noise, so they are the perfect fit for wave dancers. Of course those types are basically similar to those in dash games, but the inclusion of certain characters really suits Dancing Craze absolutely well, so we were pretty happy with this feature.
Dancing Craze
The upgrade system of the game is also varied and motivating, although variety is lacking from studio to studio. Upgrades include decorations and improvements for machines and staff. You can upgrade towel and beverage machines so that they offer more units at once, increase Maria’s speed, add more dancing pads, or purchase a radio that will increase the patience of customers waiting in line. All these upgrades are neither spectacular nor overly innovative, but they work in the sphere of this genre. Nevertheless it would have been nice to have some diversity in the different studios, because as it is, you are creating the same studio again and again.

Expect the game to last 3 or 4 hours. It’s pretty easy to reach the master goal (the game’s highest possible achievement) too, and there are no secondary modes to be explored. The awards you can earn are a nice additional motivation, but are becoming a standard feature in games these days.

All in all Dancing Craze is a very solid and entertaining time management title, above average in its genre. The graphics and animations are wonderful, the huge number of upgrades and awards motivating, and the pace of the game is absolutely perfect. If there had been more variety between the studios, a higher level of difficulty for experienced players, and a couple more levels, we definitely would have recommended the game with an even higher rating. As it is, the game is still charming while offering high production values, but genre vets should consider it a rather short experience.