Let’s say for a moment that you’re Psygnosis, little-known game publisher with only a few major hits under your belt. You’ve just scored the rights to one of the hottest untapped licenses available: internationally famous chick mega-band, the Spice Girls. You’ve been instructed by the higher-ups at Sony to use this license for reaching out to the world’s teenage girls, a demographic infamous for its pure, unadulterated hatred of all things Mario. What do you do?
A) Try to recreate the phenomenal success of other pop-star based video games, such as Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, or Kriss Kross: Make My Video.
B) Create something that’s totally off-the-wall, like a role-playing game in which the girls do battle with the forces of evil, and save the world from certain doom, and stuff.
C) Do a tie-in with their hit movie, and try to dismantle the popular superstition that movies + video games always = bad.
D) Rush out a mediocre-at-best, absolute-shit-at-worst remix simulation, in hopes of getting the game out before the Girl Power fad becomes “so last year.”
E) Come a little bit closer, baby. Get it on. Get it on. Because tonight is the night when two become one.
Have an answer in mind?
Splendid! Unless you, as well, opted for option D; you, my friend, are more intelligent than the publisher of Lemmings. Instead of taking the time to create a stellar title with their arguably stellar license, and actually reeling some girl gamers into the realm of interactive electronic entertainment, Psygnosis put their name behind what they pretentiously referred to as “an interactive music experience,” and what everyone else judgmentally referred to as “crap”—Spice World, the video game.
There are four modes of actual gameplay in Spice World, which must be completed linearly in order to create your very own Spice Girls remix/dance routine. You primarily control one Spice Girl throughout the game’s entirety, but all five are at your disposal. Your musical adventure begins in “Mixing Room,” in which you rearrange any one of the five given Spice Girl songs: “Who Do You Think You Are?,” “Move Over,” “Wannabe,” “Spice Up Your Life,” and “Say You’ll Be There.” Unfortunately, each song is pre-divided into nine descriptionless clips, which are often cut off in mid-lyric, often resulting in songs that sound like, “If you wanna be my lov-at I want, what I really really want.” Thus, one’s ability to enjoy this game is hindered from the get-go, because it’s near impossible to make a remix that doesn’t scathe your timpanic membrane.
From there you head to the blatant, albeit simplified Parappa the Rapper rip-off known as “Dance Practice.” This mode is supposed to teach you helpful button combos for swank move busting, but you’ll be so entranced by the fast paced button pushing action that you won’t actually pay attention to what moves the button pushing makes your character bust.
Next is “Dance Record”, in which you use the knowledge supposedly gained from “Dance Practice” to coordinate individual rug-cutting for each lady. This typically deteriorates to nothing more than mindless button mashing and motionless Spice Girls, for only certain button combos actually make the girls do anything, and you’re pretty much guaranteed in the instruction manual not to hit any of them. Look it up. Thankfully you need only to form one dance routine and assign it to the entire group, though if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind wasting ten more minutes of your precious time, you can set them individually.
The final stage of this epic foray into the inner workings of the music industry is known as “Television Studio,” where you film the girls doing your dance to your remix. You determine which camera angles are used at what times, a considerable task without being told what button switches you to which camera. Perhaps a “Camera Practice” mode would have been nice. Or maybe even, more than the four hours of development time put into this game. There is no way to describe the distinctly boring gameplay of Spice World without the description being boring in itself; I apologize for putting you through that.
There is a fifth mode to Spice World, entitled “Spice Network,” but that’s just a series of interviews with the girls on their craziest TV stunts, their most embarrassing moments, what Nelson Mandela thinks of them, things like that. Incredibly boring, even if you’re a hardcore believer in Girl Power as I myself am. Plus the footage itself is quite grainy and pixilated, making the screen as painful to watch as your remix probably is to hear. A cute thought, and a nice attempt to try and make up for the game’s utter lack of fun, but these clips are barely watchable.
Spice World has been the recipient of much flack for its cartoony graphics, the brunt of which is focused on their lack of realism. Cartoons lacking in realism, who’d have thought, eh? The Spice Girls are represented by cutesy caricatures of the real deals, which admittedly don’t look anything at all like the fab five, but do feature a Ginger Spice with freakishly large lips. They could have stood to be significantly less unattractive, but that’s no major fault. What is a major fault, though, is the ubiquitous psychedelic swirling backgrounds, basically the game’s only environments, which manage to not only be obnoxious, but also a major distraction from the game’s thrilling action. How am I supposed to “get my groove on” when it takes all of my powers of concentration to not be thrown into an epileptic fit? Just another sign of the developer’s desire to get this game out the door without any regard for whether or not it’s actually any good.
The one thing this game didn’t totally flub is the quality of its audio. From the voices of the girls themselves to that of the stereotypical black disco dude telling you how to dance to the actual songs, the sound is crisp, clear, and true to life—a bit of a shock considering the quality of everything else.
All things considered, this game sucks. Don’t ever buy it, ever. It doesn’t even have the “funny to laugh at, even if for all the wrong reasons” variety of suck, just an all-out “boring to tears, and not even worth the twenty minutes it takes to complete.” It’s hideously obvious how little thought and effort went into creating this title, and I’m not even sure why they bothered to sell it, even if originally for half the price of a typical PSX disc. Half the price, maybe, but only an eighth of the quality.
I went into this game with an open mind, despite all of the negative reviews I had read. Being an admitted fan of the Spice Girls, I thought that the game was given a bad rep based purely on that it was indeed a Spice Girls game, and it would be “totally queer” for your typical alpha male testosterone-filled manly man game reviewer to endorse anything so related. I thought it could be good. I gave Spice World a chance. Now I warn you against doing the same. Even if you are a fan of both the Spice Girls and video games in general, this game is not what you really really want. Zig a zig ah.