Over a week after release, I am number 26 in the world at Way of the Dogg's first chapter. Don't pick me up and carry me around the room. I'm worried that this isn't a reflection of my world-beating rhythm-action skills. I'm worried that it's a morbid prognosis for Mr Dogg's sales prospects. Which is a shame, because this could have been good. It's not. But it could have been.
You take the role of America Jones, a man who personifies the deep masculine spirit of the USA by punching men to music and holding his sweet girlfriend tight at night. Sometimes, I shouldn't wonder, to the point where their genitals collide. He's so good at fighting, he's going to film the next match. Whoo, yeah. America's gonna film himself punching some guy. Everything's coming up trumps and smelling of roses in Jonesville, Americaland.
But tragedy strikes! His opponent, Angel Face, cheats by making time go all purple. And for some reason, America Jones getting defeated has the knock-on effect of killing his girlfriend. As you can imagine, America Jones is frustrated by this turn of events. Losing your girlfriend (who you squeeze so tender, yet so tight) to an incoherent and unexplained plot lurch must feel awful.
Now I don't have to tell you: it's inconceivable that a man called America Jones would lose fairly in a fistfight. It's unpatriotic, is what it is. So our inexplicably bereaved America decides to visit Snoop Dogg in his musical fighting Dojo, where he is trained to understand that the human heartbeat is the key to reversing time, so long as you have the appropriate bracelet.
And what do you do with control over time itself? You save music licencing costs by repeating the opening levels, of course. More money is saved by having Dojo training levels set to instrumental versions. With nineteen levels, Way of the Dogg features just seven songs.
Money is important, obviously. In Gin N Juice, Snoop himself had his mind on his money, as well as his money on his mind, which I like to visualise as an infinite money-mind sandwich. But if you're drawing people in with the music and personality of Deo Double-G, seven tracks over nineteen levels might leave your fandom feeling under-serviced.
Anyway: onto the game itself. It's in the vein of Sony exclusive Gitaroo Man, and Nintendo exclusive Elite Beat Agents. Two non-Xbox games that I have consecutively loved, and would love concurrently if I only had enough hands. The Arcade would be enhanced greatly if it had more whimsical, imaginative rhythm action titles.
Let's forget that Gitaroo Man had a brilliant and varied original score, and Elite Beat Agents lifts pop music from a variety of sources. The mono-artistic nature of Way of the Dogg isn't the problem, here. Snoop's great, and the seven songs on offer are all rock solid, even if they are recycled threadbare. I can happily forgive the ridiculous and badly-told story, too. This genre needs wildness, stupidity and imagination, and if that must come with a shallow love story, cod patriotism, and a curious navel-gazing self-regard, so be it.
But the pressing of the buttons, it isn't fun.
Multiple strings of commands appear on the screen, with a conducting cursor that leaps disorientingly from one chain to the next. The contracting yellow circle that tells you where to move next is often lost against the animations in the background. It's fine on Easy and Normal, but on Hard, the chains of commands are too intense to let you spare a second looking ahead to see which end the next chain starts from. It becomes necessary to memorise the patterns, which instantly turns the first few attempts into a practice chore.