Truth be told, dance games on consoles aren’t as well-implemented or thought out as one would think. Just Dance for the Wii can be completed if you just sit down and waggle your controller in random motions and Dance Dance Revolution just requires someone pressing the four inputs on the dance mat regardless of which limb or body part you use. Harmonix knows this and with their upcoming game Dance Kinect, they’re planning to step up the genre with the Kinect’s own brand of controller-free inputs.
With the sensor bar, the game will recognize limb positioning and movement from your own body to mimic the on-screen avatar’s moves and the cue boxes on the right side of the screen. Simply put, you’re playing “Simon Says” in front of the TV to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” or Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison”. It’s not as easy as summing it up though; the game will require you to actually perform full iterations of these moves presented on-screen; half-ass versions of the Board-Breaker or the many versions of the “Shake Your Hips” move will not get you a high rating in the game.
This being a rhythm game, you’ll also need to shake your hips and limbs in-sync to the beat of the song too, otherwise the move does not count. Try as I might, I only manage to get 3 to 2 stars out of the songs I played on Medium; the game still follows the same rating system as Rock Band. As far as difficulty scales go, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga doesn’t require you to do wide-swinging hand motions as much as the breakdance-inducing “Body Movin’” by the Beastie Boys.
If somehow you came equipped with two left feet, never fret: Dance Central has a beginner’s mode called “Break It Down”. You’ll be given a list of moves to pull off one at a time; you’ll have to repeatedly perform a move correctly three times to proceed to the next move. If you flop at it twice, the tempo and speed of the dance move is slowed down so that you can try it again until it’s right. You’ll also need to do all of the dance moves in succession once you nailed each and every one of them.
Since all of the moves choreographed and performed (with kick-ass motion capturing, from the looks of it) are all real dance steps, you can use these moves on a real dance floor. The game will also note down the calories you burned as you play through each song, so think of it as a less-straightforward exercising game disguised as a rhythm game that registers your limbs instead of a Fisher Price apparatus.
Provided that the set list is numerous and the challenge level ramps up to the point where you might need to really contort your arms and legs in numerous positions, Dance Central could very well seal the deal for those still skeptical of the Kinect. In a sea of games filled with virtual baby tigers and steering wheel-less Mario Kart clones, Dance Central has the potential to shine brilliantly through its blend of technical mastery and all-ages playability.
Dance Central Track List (so far):
- Basement Jaxx’ “Rendez-Vu”
- Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction”
- Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor”
- Fannypack’s “Hey Mami”
- Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”
- Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”
- Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater”
- Nina Sky’s “Move Ya Body”
- Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”
- Rihanna’s “Pone de Replay”
- Techtronic’s “Pump Up the Jam”
- Bel Biv DeVoe’s “Poison”
- Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”
- Beastie Boy’s “Body Movin’” (Fatboy Slim Remix)
- No Doubt’s “Hella Good”
- Lipps Inc.’s “Funky Town”