Dance Central

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 90/100

Dance Central Review
Developer: Harmonix / MTV Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Let's dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues. These are the lyrics of a famous David Bowie song. Ok, this song is already dated and perhaps not the perfect start of a review that makes use of the latest gaming technology to let us dance without a controller; the Kinect. This time it is better to start the review with “Let's dance, switch on the Kinect power and make those moves” because Dance Central is now in stores, although it already should be in your Xbox360.

 Dance Central Female Gamers Review

As soon as the first Kinect media announcements were made it was obvious to me that this technology was ideal to play dance games. Forget those dance pads we used to jump on, forget about controllers communicating with the consoles to visualize a dancing version of you on screen, all that is history thanks to the Kinect. Dance Central is one of the first dance games and yes, I was positive prejudiced before making the fist dance move.

Can I dance? Do I have rhythm? NO! But can I copy moves? Who can't?! Of course! In Dance Central it is all about making dancing moves. Whether perfectly timed or just nice, it's just a matter of training. To learn the moves corresponding to the song, you can act as “Miss know it all”, just starting the song and trying to copy the moves from the dancer on screen REAL quick. But I guess most of us just like to dance but earn as many points as possible. Therefore it's possible to use the break it down feature which teaches you each move, step by step Watch how the dancer demonstrates the move, and copy it three times to be certain that you understand it and can perform it. If it is too difficult, you can slow down the speed of the move to copy it and speed the song up once again the move is under control.

 Dance Central Female Gamers Review

There's no need to memorize a whole dance routine as the moves are visualized on a flashcard, visible shortly before the move has to be performed. After a couple of dance rehearsals, these flash cards still can be helpful, but you’ll notice that they aren't really required anymore. If they bother you and want a true dancing experience, just turn off the flash card functionality. While you can switch that off, other things can be switched on like a workout mode which keeps track of the calorie loss during your game session. But I'm more interested in the score for my moves / dance performance than a score of burned calories. If you know that you start sweating while dancing on Rihanna ... it's obvious that calories are being burned.

Dance Central contains three elements which triggers a gamer to play this game; experience the new Kinect controlling / recognition of your moves, the possibility to learn how to dance with all kinds of moves and of course the varied songs. The controlling via Kinect is just perfect! It provides a kind of matrix feeling in the beginning while selecting modes and shuffling through the songs with your hands. But the real deal is the perfect recognizing of your moves by the Kinect. And if you think the Kinect is not working, you probably need to perform your moves better next time; the arm a little higher, twist your body a bit, make a bigger step, etc.

 Dance Central Female Gamers Review

We talked about the Kinect and the moves, but the missing link is the songs. Dance Central contains 31 songs that cover pop, hip hop and dance hall music and more. From oldies to the latest hit parade number 1 smash hits. From Salt-N-Pepa – Push It to Lady Gaga' Just Dance. Even the Commodores, Beastie Boys and Pitbull are included to underline the variety in songs. 31 songs is quite a large song collection on one game, but the first downloadable content available and many more in the near future. No surprise with a developer as Harmonix who also played this extra money making machine trick already with Rock Band. Some gamers think it's a money trap, and some are willing to pay the money for new content for music they like instead of paying for a full new Dance Central Part 2 game.

Don't you just feel special when rewards are given for your great performances? Not only can you unlock achievements but also special game mode challenges, new venues, new outfits for the dancers and even a very special dancer. Bit by bit you unlock more and more, but actually it's not the rewards that motivate to move on. It's something else. First understand that when you finished a dance, you'll get a score and a maximum of 5 golden stars for perfect performance and a total of moves made. By then you're feeling proud, especially when you also unlocked new features. But what do you see?! An Xbox friend has achieved a higher score. And that is the motivating factor as you want to prove that you can do better. So work it, girl! Work it, Work it, and Work it!

 Dance Central Female Gamers Review

From a female point of view, we can state that the majority of gamers which are going to buy / play this game are female. The game includes a lot of varied female dancers; simply choose the one you feel comfortable with. Some act normal, and some are simply arrogant, convinced that they are the star of this game. Their styles can be changed any time if new outfits are unlocked. Don’t expect a full wardrobe, or a full customizable character, maybe that’s something for the next Dance Central game. During your performance, pictures will be taken and a free style period is installed to go crazy in front of the cam to make a short movie that shows your moves fast forward. Although it’s fun to watch in the beginning, it gets a little bit annoying seeing you over and over again, and it simply doesn’t look as flashy as the in-game dancers.

Dance Central truly is a perfect Kinect launch game and a must have for every gamer who wants to bust a move with the help and fun of a videogame. Finally I can get rid of my Britney Spears dance pad, as this controlling hardware is history (and of the record maybe that also counts for Britney as none of her songs are included in Dance Central). Again it is all about the new way of controlling, the variety in songs and a great learning experience on how to make a great performance by making cool moves and how to deal with a love hate relationship with your Xbox friends. Dance!