Xbox

Dance Central Review

Dance Central LogoDance Central for Kinect for Xbox 360 is a truly enjoyable dance game which makes excellent use of the controller-free motion gaming system. Its solid presentation and intuitive gameplay make for an undeniably fun active-gaming experience, maybe even the best that Kinect has to offer so far.

Dance Central suits a wide range of dancing abilities, from beginners to pros. Difficulty settings are progressively unlocked for each of the game’s 35 included songs, requiring players to hone their skills before moving ahead and tackling more advanced routines. Read More...

Players can jump right into the game or start by learning each routine through what is called Break it Down mode. Here, players are introduced to each move in sequence, performing them to the best of their abilities. The system will rate you on how well you perform them, making you repeat those with which you have trouble.

In this mode, players can also slow moves further and repeat them indefinitely. All of the dance moves are accompanied by very helpful flash cards which appear ahead of time during the full performance. Routines are uniquely designed for each song—which are edited down to about two and half minutes—with a variety of standard and original dance moves, though a few of them do repeat across songs.

As you complete tiers of songs with a minimum four-star performance, you will unlock a Tier Challenge, a medley of every song in the tier. The game’s included song selection is well-rounded, with a majority of modern dance and hip hop songs as well as some classic disco tunes. Additional content is also available for purchase at a cost of about $3 (240 Microsoft Points) per song.

The Flashcard System Helps with Learning and Performing Routines

In every song, players will come across a freestyle section where they perform random moves to earn additional points. This section is quite amusing at first, particularly when a video replays on screen showing your moves at high speed. However, these sections becomes redundant over time as players will tend to repeat the same “random”  moves in order to maximize points.

As you perform your routine, the system gives you instant feedback through the avatar on screen whose limbs turn red when your matching limbs are out of sync or position. While this system is helpful to get you back on track, the other graphics on screen can sometimes make this red highlighting difficult to see. A helper window also shows your silhouette as perceived by the game, which helps you to adjust your position.

The game offers a good selection of avatars and venues in which to dance. Each avatar has its own colourful personality and style, including amusing physical and verbal expressions. The game graphics run smoothly, are bright and clean, and include nice floor bouncing effects. The overall presentation is reminiscent of Karaoke Revolution or Rock Band, titles also created by Harmonix.

On the downside, the gameplay could use a bit more depth. There is no story or career mode per se, aside from loading screens which tell you that you are becoming more popular. Neither is there a simultaneous two-player mode, though the game does include hot-seat dance battles. Leaderboards for each song exclusively show how you perform in relation to your friends rather than show your overall ranking.

Skilled Dancers can Choose to Play Without Flash Cards
Dance Central includes a workout mode that players can turn on at any time. There you can input your weight in order for the game to calculate the approximate amount of calories spent while dancing. Other unlockables include new avatars and venues, as well as a “No Flashcard” mode to truly test your skills.

Despite being one of the first Kinect for Xbox 360 releases, Dance Central does an outstanding job working around the space limitations of a typical living room. Unlike similar titles, the game had no trouble registering player movement or position. The game also has an excellent “swiping” menu system that reduces the number of missed selections, the best of any Kinect game to date.

Dance Central promises to become a successful Kinect for Xbox 360 franchise, taking the dance game concept further than ever before. Much more intuitive than using a Dance Dance Revolution mat or a Wii Remote, Dance Central teaches dancing skills could easily be transferred to real life. I have definitely found myself dancing these moves outside the game, it is that much fun!

Positives:

+ Intuitive, Natural Dancing
+ Break it Down Mode Teaches You Routines
+ Cue Card System Is Very Helpful
+ Really Fun


Negatives:

- Only One Player at a Time
- Move Feedback Can Be Hard to See


StarStarStarStarEmpty Star

Game Forward Score: 4/5

Nathalie Caron > Game Forward

-----

Dance Central (Kinect for Xbox 360) Quick Facts:

Genre: Music / Rhythm
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.
Publisher: MTV Games
Release Date: November 4, 2010
Price: $49.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)