I have never really liked the idea of dance video games. Until now they have only tracked the movement of your feet, or a Wiimote, and hence I’ve never really found them to be realistic in any way. When I stepped onto the show floor today, I can assure you that I in no way intended to try any of the many new dance games being shown.
That all changed however when I found out that one of my favorite developers, Harmonix, was making a new one called Dance Central, exclusively for the Kinect on Xbox 360. I’ve now gotten on stage in front of a bunch of people and made a complete full of myself trying out this game, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
Unlike most dancing games, Dance Central does not simply track the tapping of your feet, or the movement of a Wiimote. Thanks to the full body capture abilities of the Kinect, the game actually tracks the movement of your entire body. When you dance, it compares how you move to how the game wants you to move, and if you do a good job you earn points. The more points you earn the more stars you earn, similar to how the Rock Band scoring system works.
When you first begin Dance Central you’ll get to choose what song you want to dance to. Each one has a pre-choreographed dance associated with it, and while some dances are easy, others are extremely hard. Once you pick your song, and hence dance, you then get to decide what specific difficulty level of that dance you want to dance at.
If you are getting confused, just think about how Rock Band works. Each song already has its own difficulty level, and after selecting one you then choose your specific instrument difficulty level. It’s exactly like that.
After you select your difficulty level, you then get to choose whether you want to practice the dance moves that will accompany the song, or if you want to just dive right in. Once you make your choice, it’s time to break it down and get down with your bad self.
The way the game works is each dance is divided up into a long list of short specified dance moves which all flow freely together to create one full dance. On the right side of a screen is a picture card column which shows the dance moves you’ve done, the dance move your currently performing, and the ones you’re about to perform. In the middle of the screen is a dope looking chick or guy, who’s performing all the moves so you know exactly how to do them yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, the games uses the power of Kinect to actually track your entire body. Every time you do one of the short specified dance moves correctly, you earn points, and the more points you earn the more stars you get. Because it tracks your entire body, you have to make sure your doing everything right.
When I played the game, I danced to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. The song that is accompanied with that song was supposed to be an easier one, and I played it on medium settings. For the most part the moves were fairly easy to do, and lots of fun. I was able to watch other people do different songs and dances, and I can definitely say that the difficulty level can get intense. There was nothing shown though that I couldn’t do with a little bit of practice, and I am not the most limber guy at the old age of 30.
What amazed me most about Dance Central was just how absolutely fun it was. Every single person who got up to the play the game walked off with a huge smile on their face. Because the game tracks your whole body, it really requires you to let loose and get into it. It’s a genius way to get people to dance, and I honestly believe that people who play the game will learn to “break a move”. I certainly got down with my bad self and showed the honeys all my sweet fly moves.
There will be video posted of me dancing to the game, making a complete fool of myself, so check back at the site later if you feel like having a good laugh. Dance Central is definitely a game I plan on keeping on my radar, and if you’re interested in Kinect, you should too.