And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party of the Century
by: Wes

Mary-Kate and Ashley. The Olsen Twins. I can hardly remember a world without these two. Ever since their appearance on "Full House" way back in '87, they've been in the spotlight, first garnering attention because they were oh-so-cute, then because they were apparently idols for budding pre-teen and teenage girls everywhere, then because they were just on the cusp of womanhood (apparently they ranked #61 in FHM's 100 sexiest women poll even before their 18th birthday), then because they starred in cinematic trash and one of them suffered from anorexia and whatnot. But before they became fantasy targets for would-be statutory rapists and the subjects of much tabloid gossip, the Olsens occupied the spot that Hilary Duff and Raven, reigning queens of the Disney Channel and the envy of young girls across the nation, presently hold. And so somebody thought it would be a good idea to give them not only their own video specials, but their own video games as well.

1960s style!The hip-hop don't stop.

And here we are. Personally, I doubt that any of these teen queens are/were really as hot as the Disney Channel and the media would like us to believe. Like I said, I can barely remember a world in which the Olsen twins weren't in the spotlight, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who idolized them or even thought they were remotely cool, save their undeniable cuteness in the early years of "Full House". Despite the fact that a number of The New Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley titles graced the shelves of the kids' series section at the bookstore, I believe I only saw one of them sold in the ten months that I worked there. (Similarly, I've only sold one That's So Raven book in that time, and those Lizzie McGuire Cine-Manga titles are going fucking nowhere.) And really, if the girls had been that popular, wouldn't it stand to reason that Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party of the Century would have been a smash hit when it was released in 1999? Shouldn't it have completely sold out back then? Yet there it was, six years later, sitting on a shelf at Toys 'R' Us in full view of everyone for a mere $1.15 after tax and still nobody was biting. Because despite what the tabloids and the Teen Choice Awards tell you -- and what the twins' net worth seems to imply -- nobody gives a shit about the Olsens except horny old men whose theme song is Oingo Boingo's "Little Girls". And even they were too embarrassed to buy the game.

Work it, baby!NOT ME, THOUGH! So let's proceed with the review. I'm not going to go into the system requirements and the fact that this is one of those games that requires the use of Quicktime to run (luckily, though 4.0 is the version included with the game, it appears to be compatible with current versions of QT, so installing the older version isn't necessary), but suffice it to say that if you ever want to track this game down for yourself, it will run under Win2K (and probably XP as well) even though it specifies Win 95/98. For Mac users, OS 8.5 or higher allows the player to partake of the dancing fun.

Once the installation's taken care of, all that remains is to double click the appropriate icon and get ready to dance! Unlike some older games, which require you to adjust the screen resolution yourself, Mary-Kate and Ashley are happy to switch it to 640 x 480 for you (and, what's more, they'll even switch it back when you finish and leave your desktop icons more/less in the same place), so there's no extra hassle there. So. During the opening credit screens (assuming you didn't already get this info from the game box beforehand), you'll be surprised to learn that Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party of the Century was actually put out by Acclaim. Okay, so it's not all that shocking, but I think it's kinda weird that the same company that licensed Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam for home play should be turning out games starring the Olsen twins. But then again... Mary-Kate, Mortal Kombat. Dancing and blood. I see a connection here.

Choose an Activity! So once the Olsens greet you and slink around the screen per the image above, the player is faced with one of two options. Assuming that Mary-Kate and Ashley's dancing hasn't terrified the user and/or whipped him/her into a sexual frenzy such that proceeding would be unthinkable, clicking the "Choose an Activity" button brings one to, naturally, the "Choose an Activity" screen. And there sure are a lot of activities to choose from! Well, six -- Dance Class, Scrambled Eras, Name That Dance, Dress Up to Dance, Name That Danceable Tune, and, finally, Let's Have a Dance Party! -- some of which are better than others. And while it would be easier and less painful to gloss over each activity and just give a general overview of the game itself, because we here at Scary-Crayon love to torture our readers have nothing better to do than play six-year-old games designed for pre-teen girls are sticklers for thoroughness, we're going to go over every fucking activity in more/less detail. That said, PREPARE YOURSELVES... IT'S TIME TO D-D-D-DANCE!!!

GREAT CHOICE!Dancing through the decades.

After making your selection, no matter what it is, a special screen comes up on which one of the twins lauds you for your great choosing ability, thereby rendering the greatness of each choice you make utterly meaningless because every fucking choice you make is oh-so great. Whatever. Now, if for at least one of the choices the girls said, "You fucking dumbass, this activity sucks! Go back and choose a better one," that would give their words meaning, but alas! At least occasionally they add in some other info, but even then it's usually wrong -- for instance, when they refer to certain activities as being "fun". Because honestly, class is rarely fun.

And with that brilliant segue we come to the first of our activities and the figurative meat and potatoes of the game -- Dance Class. As you see in the above-right image, there are eight decades to choose from, each with a dance that more/less reflects the time period -- the 1920s and the Charleston, the 1940s and the Mambo, the 1950s and the Jitterbug, and so forth. I don't really remember Western Line Dancing being the big thing in the '80s, but whatever. What I find interesting, however, is that although the game is clearly copyrighted 1999, the 2000s have a section for dance -- meaning that Mary-Kate and Ashley accurately predicted that Hip Hop would take center stage this decade as far as dance and music trends go. Who knew they were psychic??

Do the Charleston!Choosing a decade and dance takes one to a screen like the one at left, where the girls will strut their stuff and shake their pubescent fannies for the pleasure of lecherous middle-aged men, thereby teaching the player the various steps of the designated dance. To that end, the control panel below the screen allows the player to slow the girls down or even pause them, as necessary, in order to study their moves at one's leisure. And for those who aren't fans of the Olsen twins, the fast-forward button allows one to kick them into overdrive and pretend they're just seconds away from spontaneously combusting! That's the penalty when life is but a song.

Strangely enough, though, if one actually watched and emulated the moves on the screen, one probably could learn these dances. Furthermore, clicking the "Fabulous Footwork" button at the bottom of the display takes one to another screen where one can view the steps of the dance in eight still closeups. They pretty much all look like walking to me, but points for intent. Anyway, all things considered, this activity serves as a pretty good dance tutorial -- although if you showed up to a bona fide hip hop club looking like this and dancing like that, I'm not sure I could vouch for your safety.

Name That DanceCorrect!

Next up, Name That Dance. As the name of the game implies, here's where you use what you learned in the previous activity by following the steps and guessing which dance is being visualized on the screen. It starts off like Simon, in that you have to click the steps in the order that they flash on the screen, gaining a new step with each accurate repetition, until you're finally called to name the dance when the sequence is finished -- but you've got to be quick about it, since all the while a timer counts down, depleting your points as you go. Like Wheel of Fortune, you can guess early, but then you don't get as many points as you would if you duplicated the dance steps to the bitter end. Fairly simple, but it works in an apply-your-knowledge pop quiz kinda way.

Scrambled ErasDress Up to Dance

If you thought that was simple, though, wait until you get a load of Scrambled Eras, which, despite the simplistic nature of it, is probably the most difficult game of the bunch. Here, a bunch of shit flies around the screen while a decade flashes at the bottom, and it's the player's job to move a paint brush around the screen and "white-out" the objects that don't belong in that decade. It's tricky, though -- not only are things made confusing by the inclusion of a number of lesser known items and the fact that some of the older fads made a comeback in later decades, but because the crap tends to float over each other, thereby making it impossible to eliminate unwanted items when they occupy the same physical space as objects belonging to the specified decade, since clicking on such instances causes the game to view this as a "wrong" answer and accordingly deduct points from the player's score. One has to wait until the objects separate themselves in order to get past these instances -- which occur more often than one would like -- but it's kinda frustrating because all the while the timer is counting down and decreasing one's score in turn. Not that points actually get you anything in this game, but still.

And then there's Dress Up to Dance, which isn't really a game at all -- you just cycle through the available decades and pick out various hats, hairdos, earrings, and necklaces pertaining to the times for Mary-Kate and Ashley to wear, mixing and matching their fashion accessories as you see fit. Unfortunately for the perverts, there's no vertical scrollbar to allow one to give Mary-Kate and Ashley period-specific shoes and panties.

Name That Danceable TuneGuess the Video

Name That Danceable Tune! This one's a prime example of the girls lying to you in their "Great Choice" spiel, since they tell you that it's hard and (really) not to get stressed out if you don't do well. Nice of them to show concern! And in theory, this one should be hard for everyone who's not obsessed with Mary-Kate and Ashley, as it requires the player to listen to samples of various songs from their videos and then not only guess the name of the song, but the video from which it came! However, it ends up being fucking easy since the game offers four choices and one can usually tell within the first few words which song it is. For example, the girls start off singing about ice cream and pizza and "Food Court" is one of the choices -- duh. The second part is even easier, as it's usually obvious which video the song came from ("Food Court", for example, would be from You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Mall of America Party). And for guessing both correctly, you're rewarded with stills from the video in question! And I thankfully haven't seen the full video, but per the above-right screencap, You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Sleepover Party terrifies me to no end. That's just fucked up, man.  :(

Let's Have a Dance Party!Plan the perfect ho-down with Mary-Kate and Ashley!

And then last, but certainly not least, there's Let's Have A Dance Party!, which allows kids to plan their own decade-themed parties under the guidance of Mary-Kate and Ashley's superior hosting instructions. Seriously, the twins have really thought this one through, with everything from printable invitations to menus to costume and activity recommendations to help one plan the most fabulous dance party ever! I'm not sure how much this game retailed for when it first came out, but I know that it's more than worth the $1.15 I paid for it even considering my advanced age and the fact that I don't love-love little girls, because now I possess the requisite templates for hosting the best goddamned dance parties ever. You rock, Mary-Kate and Ashley!  :D

GANGSTER MELTS and HIPPIE CHEESE QUICHE!!!Yes, I know that this review wasn't at all what you've come to expect from Scary-Crayon. I mean, bloody hell, it was a Mary-Kate and Ashley PC game -- that was just perfect for the irreverent humor and derisive mockery that usually characterizes our reviews. But on the contrary, this review has been more or less favorable -- and even, dare we say, glowing in some areas. You, the reader, may be wondering if perhaps I've lost my bloody mind, praising an Olsen twins game in this manner. And perhaps I have. But here, at right, we have the real reasons that I cannot, in good conscience, give Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party anything less than a stellar review. No matter how silly and/or horrifying other areas of the game may be, nothing can outweigh the fact that although I'm responsible for a number of crazy recipes, I never once considered putting a hat on a stack of grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches -- yet Mary-Kate and Ashley have done just that. You see, in addition to all of the other party suggestions offered up in this final activity, there's a recipe area -- and when a game teaches me how to make dishes like Gangster Melts and Hippie Cheese Quiche, it has more than my appreciation. It has my gratitude. It has my respect. It has hat-wearing sandwiches. Mary-Kate's anorexia makes perfect sense now -- I wouldn't want to eat either if my food were cool enough to wear hats.

Do you really want to quit?Goodbye!

And that's about all there is to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party of the Century. Upon clicking the "Quit" button, the game graciously asks if you're absolutely sure that you want to quit before exiting the game -- as if it knows that sometimes things can get frantic in fucking Scrambled Eras and that it's possible to accidentally click the quit button, or as if it's aware that it's almost impossible to want to exit from a game that features hat-wearing sandwiches. Also on this screen, clicking the porno promo button allows one to view advertisements for other Mary-Kate and Ashley products -- but unlike other games that would unscrupulously shove these in your face without a moment's hesitation, the Olsen twins are courteous enough to wait for your prompting before plugging their other wares. And then, upon your confirmation that you really do want to quit, the girls pop up once more to bid you farewell and congratulate you on your improved dancing ability. Thanks, girls! We try.

Thus concludes the Scary-Crayon review of Mary-Kate & Ashley's Dance Party of the Century. We hope you enjoyed it! Now, if you know what's good for you, you'll shove off to fix yourself some Purple Haze Punch. Yes, they've even got drink recipes! (Be sure to add vodka where appropriate.) The Olsen twins fucking rule.


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