Product Type: Microsoft Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... simply dancing to a song, there are a few other modes in the game. The most useful is a "Break It Down" mode, which ... more
Still probably the best use of the Kinect outside of Dance Central 2
Dance Central - Kinect Compatible (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Kodoku
Dance Central - Kinect Compatible (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Makes good use of the Kinect, and a great way to get in shape
Disadvantages: Not so great as a party game, as only one player can participate at a time
But anyway, to the game itself. You play by choosing a song and mimicking the actions of the dancer on-screen, using a series of flashcards that pop up to aid you in performing the moves as well as preparing for what's coming up next. I found this intuitive enough for the most part, and the Kinect usually did a great job of tracking my movements to make sure I was doing it right. Sometimes I did feel as if my moves were not being tracked properly though, although I felt it had more to do with the fact that my room isn't quite as large as it needed to be. One thing Kinect games need is a *lot* of space, and that is something that people really need to consider before purchasing a Kinect, let alone games for it.
Besides simply dancing to a song, there are a few other modes in the game. The most useful is a "Break It Down" mode, which lets you practice each and every dance routine in the game step by step, even allowing you to slow the song down so you can concentrate on the moves you're having trouble with in order to perfect them. It's a little time-consuming, but the effort you put in practice really does have an effect in the dances proper. You can also unlock harder dance routines for each song (a "normal" one and a "hard" one) once you've completed the default "easy" routine to an acceptable level. This brings me to another thing I found favourable about this game; unlike some others, all the songs are available from the start. It's so frustrating to pick up a game that you might play with friends or at parties that requires someone to play it through first to unlock every song for the others to enjoy. The fact that this game doesn't need you to do, while also giving dedicated players other things to unlock (the harder dance routines and different costumes for the dancers) that shows a lot of understanding that is typically lacking in these kinds of games.
There are maybe two things I found that might give cause for disappointment in my opinion. These games thrive a lot on their song choice, and if you like your party games with loads of cheesy, immediately recognisable tunes then this may leave you in the cold. There are a few, but Dance Central offers quite a varied mix of musical styles, but this gives more the impression that it takes itself a little more seriously than, say, the Just Dance games. There isn't much to offer in terms of additional songs for download either, and there probably won't be now that its sequel is released. The other drawback is the lack of participation for more than one player at a time. This may be out of necessity due to the sheer amount of space Kinect requires that it probably isn't practical to have two people dancing side by side, but it's still something to consider for party play. There is an option for two players, but crucially each player takes it in turns to complete each half of the song at a time. Since player two gets to sit back and watch, this gives them a rather clear advantage through having seen the routine first before having to perform it. While this game is surely fun to watch, and the game even invites everyone to mess around during the "freestyle" parts of a song, the lack of meaningful participation does bring it down a little as a party game.
What I have enjoyed most about this though, is that I've found it a great way to keep fit. Dance Central nods at this by including a "workout" option, which simply asks your weight before keeping a running total of how many calories you're predicted to have burned in a play session, but it's not really that useful or even necessary. A couple of hours gyrating in front of the screen and you can feel the strain on your body as you try to keep up, resulting in aches you can feel for days if you're not careful! Dancing was always a good way to get in shape and this game certainly encourages it out of the gamer in me.
Although the sequel (which I haven't looked at yet) is surely an improvement over this, I still found Dance Central to be a highly enjoyable game that is doing my fitness levels no end of good. Still a worthy consideration, especially at discounted prices that put it at around half the cost of its successor at this time of writing.
Summary: A good purchase for anyone looking to see what their Kinect can do. And great exercise.
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