Dance Central (Xbox 360)

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Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Feb 21, 2011
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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A Game To Actually Get Your Groove On.

The Good

While there have been numerous dance games over the years, from the long-running Dance Dance Revolution, to a few Wii offerings like Just Dance or Michael Jackson: The Experience, this aspect of the music/rhythm genre is nothing new.

What Dance Central offers, however IS something new: A chance for players to use their entire body and actually perform the chosen dance track to an effective sense of believability. In other words: Players could take what they learn from this game for use in public, and actually apply it effectively to a real dance floor. Imagine... a dance game with actual, practical application.

The dance options are excellent, with each song offering new moves and tempos. The Kinect sensor seems receptive, allowing for a full range of movement. The Kinect reads an entire person's body, allowing for some unique routines that don't require a floor mat or a controller to input. The marketing of "You are the controller" is well put to use here, feeling natural, and not awkward.

The game itself is a workout. A few sessions of the game will get the player's body working and sweating. The game also keeps track of the number of calories burned.

For multi-play, there's even a dance off mode, allowing players to shift off in something of a "dance battle" alternating during an extended mix during a chosen song. "Freestyle Mode" during songs is fun, video capturing players getting into the groove (or just acting silly for the camera).

The game's presentation is bright and flashy, with well animated character moves and backgrounds.

The Bad

The songs in a music game are always subjective to a person's taste. Different people will always like certain songs more than another person would.

From a personal standpoint, I find the selection to not be diverse enough. There are a few fun selections here and there, but primarily, the music selections are 2000's era "In Da Club" mixes, and while that may work for some, I would appreciate a more varied selection from the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's. DLC could round it out, but after seeing Harmonix's diverse treatment for Rock Band, I'm a little surprised not to see that kind of range presented here.

Moves also seem a little suspect at times. Granted, the game is VERY accurate for what it is, but there is a question if some moves get registered that have been seemingly pulled off to requirement. There is a training mode, but it seems more tedious than helpful to to the heavy amount of repetition.

As for characters, most of the selections are obnoxious club stereotypes. Some being more tolerable that others, but none really winning a player over.

The Bottom Line

Every system or accessory has its "Killer App", and this is the Kinect's first real gem. It's a fun game to play around with, have friends over and enjoy, or just use as a workout device.

If Dance Central is an early indication of what the Kinect is capable of, then the device has got a lot of promise. As fun as it is, Dance Central fortunately can improve with the inclusion of more diverse DLC tracks, hopefully rounding it out to less hip-hop and 2000-era club tracks, to really mine music's energetic history.

A great game, in any circumstance.