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I am a lover of dance. I enjoy dancing, although I wouldn’t say I was overly good, I have rhythm and will always be first on a dance floor at a party, I like films about dance and I knew “Dance Central” for the Xbox 360 Kinect would be just up my street.
I’ve always been a fan of arcade dance machines and have spent many a penny following the little arrows on screen and jigging away happily. Dance Central is basically a fully body dance machine, but without the crowds to be embarrassed in front of.
To explain the game I shall first just briefly cover what “Kinect” is for those who aren’t familiar with it. Basically Kinect is an add on for your Xbox that can pick you up in 3D space and place your shape and movements into a game using its cameras and infrared depth detectors. It is a nice shiny black long device that can sit in front or above your TV and plugs into the Xbox.
Due to the wonderful ability of Kinect and the pretty decent accuracy, many games are now compatible with Kinect and this has opened us up to a whole new batch of movement related games. Unlike the Nintendo Wii, the Kinect doesn’t need you to hold anything or press any buttons at all, as it can “see” you are knows what you are doing. It really is surprisingly accurate and I have really enjoyed mine since getting it on launch day. Anyway...this isn’t a review of Kinect so on to the game itself...
Price / Availability
As part of the bundle package I brought my Kinect in, I had a choice of 2 additional games as well as the basic game it came with. I knew Dance Central would be one I’d enjoy as I mentioned so it came home with me straight away. It cost at the time £34.99 as part of the bundle which is average for an Xbox 360 game and I must say I have been happy they didn’t use the Kinect as an excuse to hike prices up for any compatible games. It is currently in all decent game stores and retails for approx £34.99 – £39.99 but you will pay less for a pre-owned copy or if you can find a deal online.
Cover / Song list
The cover is funky and purple and like most dance games shows a lot of people having lots of fun (of course) dancing. There are some details of what songs are included on the box to give you an idea if you would like it before you buy.
To me, the track list for any rhythm game isn’t actually too important, as long as playing/dancing/singing along to whatever song it is, is enjoyable, then personal tastes etc do not seem to interfere. For those who think this is key however, Dance Central does well though to cover quite a range of music, from dance classics like “funky town” to modern chart hits from artists such as Rhiana and Lady GaGa.
There are 32 tracks included on the disk in total.
Once you have set up your Kinect and calibrated, it navigating the game is simple. Once loaded you become the controller and a few simple arm movements scroll through the menus and track lists. It’s very intuitive and all movements needed feel natural and it isn’t hard at all to work out how to move around the game.
Let’s get dancing! (Game play)
So much to do! You can have dance battles, which are for 2 players, work out mode, where you can just keep dancing and tracking calories. In the main part of the game all of the songs are in sections of 5 or 6 songs at a time once you are in the game. The songs with the simpler routines are first and as you master these you unlock more and more which get trickier as you progress.
You can select to break down a song which will show you the moves for a small part of the song, help you to master them and then add more, eventually, once you have the hang of it all together you move on to the “perform it” selection and dance the full dance where you are scored and given a star rating.
The moves themselves range from very simple (side steps, clapping etc) all the way up to some very advanced moves (I wouldn’t even know what to call them! But “The Robot” makes an appearance)
The point of the game is to try and do the moves as accurately as possible. You can see your actual self in the top right hand corner of the screen; this is seeing yourself as Kinect sees you. For the most part though you will be following a little in-game avatar who will be acting as your mirror image for that section of the game (there are 8 in total). The song starts and the animated avatar will get ready to dance. As moves scroll up the right hand side of the screen you get a brief idea of what they are. Each move is named such as “side step” which lets you know what the game expects of you and also a little picture showing an outline of a person with correct body parts (in this case a left leg) highlighted and arrows to show direction, so you know which way to move. If the name of the move isn’t a clear indication of what you need to do, then the picture should help a lot in guessing. These pictures are called “Flash Cards” and there is an option for the more adventurous of you to turn these off if you really think you have learnt a dance well.
Boogie Bunny! (My Opinion)
I love this game. I knew I would to be fair, but I am glad it completely lived up to what I was expecting. The menus are smooth and easy and I feel they respond really well to the controller free game play.
The actual game is super responsive and it’s one of the things I really like (and hate) about Dance Central. You can’t fool the game. It can see you perfectly and it knows if you are moving correctly or not, I love this because I know when I am actually doing a move correctly which makes me feel good and like a pro dancer but on the flip side, after 20 minutes of breaking songs down and busting a move, you can’t slack off! If you want those points and stars you have to actually DO the dance moves, if your arms aren’t straight enough or you have stopped dipping as low as you are meant to, it will pull you up on it, no matter how tired you are, it will not let you off.
There is a good mix of music on here and although I am not a fan particularly of hip hop or R’n’B for example, I still love the dances to the songs. Each song has a unique dance routine and with over 650 unique dance moves, few moves are repeated enough for you to feel cheated. I love that there are different difficulty levels, I started on easy to get used to the game but after 2 dances and 100% scores I thought I’d give hard a go and surprisingly I find these are about my level, it did get very hard towards the end and the songs further down the list really took everything I had to get a decent score and certainly left me sweating.
I would recommend this game to anyone who wants a bit of family fun or a serious workout. It is fun and easy if you go for the lower difficulties and whether you are familiar or not with this sort of game, you would do fine on easy. For those wanting more of a challenge or a good workout then hard is great for really making you sweat.
There is also the added bonus of it being on the Xbox so you have the advantage of being able to download more content from Xbox Live and also the fun of unlocking all the achievements.
I must also say a part of it that makes me smile is the "freestyle" that happens in the middle of each song. It gives you about 10 seconds to do whatever you want without your score being in trouble...I tend to rest, but it plays back the 10 seconds for you after using the Kinects recording capabilities and this is quite amusing if you decide to go a bit mental.
Oooo I was going to get this for my Kinect but I had one problem...I cant dance so well but am gonna buy it anyways as it will be fun like you say, so yeah. I have Kinect Sports and the Adventure game but this looks way better. Hopefully its got some good songs I will enjoy, shame The Killers aren't on it. I'm guessing not so many 80s songs either haha! Probably a good job only like recent stuff. Will be back with an E. X