The rhythm genre, for the most part, has been over-saturated these past few years. After the sucess of titles like Gitaroo Man, PaRappa the Rapper, and DDR, the market started to flood with Guitar Hero after Guitar Hero iteration, until finally, it imploded, with basically only Harmonix Music Systems remaining. Thankfully, Harmonix kept things fresh with the much needed keyboard instrument, and of course, the Dance Central franchise, which took the country by storm.
But is Dance Central 2 in danger of flooding the market once again? Read on to find out.
Just like Dance Central 1, your objective is to well – dance to victory. You’ll accomplish this over a number of new and old[er] songs, which, for the most part, would actually be played in a club, and should cater to just about every age group. Using the Kinect sensor, various “move” cards will scroll across the screen, and the more accurately you nail the moves, the more points you get – just like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, you can earn anywhere from 1-5 stars per song for your efforts.
This time around, Dance Central 2 expands the “crew” aspect of the game, with an aesthetic similar to the Jet Set Radio series – the cities are overrun with gangs, and it’s your job to represent your crew through dance – or something. So the story doesn’t really matter – what matters is that the game is fun, and has a ton of different modes to tackle.
You might look like an idiot learning to play Dance Central, but you’ll have a ton of fun doing it. The game caters to your lack of coordination if you let it, with the improved Break It Down training mode, which allows you to practice each and every step, until you get it down pat.
Personally, I was having a lot of problems with the “Butt Bump” during Baby Got Back, so I have Harmonix to thank for improving this much needed feature. The Kinect’s voice capabilities have also been added to this feature, which allows you to easily navigate between different moves you wish to practice, in addition to enabling slow motion, which is a really nice addition that elevates the game’s Kinect functionality.
The game also contains an expanded Workout Mode. While the game isn’t 100% accurate (as it doesn’t ask for your gender or weight specifications), calories are roughly tracked from every mode, and you can get at least some idea of how hard you worked in that particular instance. In addition to the calorie counter, there are also timed workout sessions that you can engage in. Just like the home versions of DDR, this is a really nice inclusion, as it can get you motivated to start really losing weight with a more rigorous external workout routine, using the game as a complement.
If learning and workouts aren’t your thing, you can jump right into the game’s free mode, or challenge mode, and start earning badges. Just like Rock Band’s tour mode, you can choose from a number of songs, and after fulfilling a certain requirement, you’ll move onto the next level.
Multiplayer also adds what was probably the most requested feature of Dance Central: simultaneous multiplayer play. With this new iteration, you can finally share the dance floor with your significant other, sibling, or friend, and settle once and for all who is the best dancer, head to head.
Or, you could always play nice and tackle a song together to earn the coveted 5 star rating. The game also supports drop-in/drop-out play, which is really nice for seamless dancing without interruption. There is a caveat however – just like a crowded club, be prepared to bump each other on occasion, depending on the song number/moveset. There were a few occasions where I had to re-position my Kinect, even though it was working just fine with another title.
Dance Central 2 also caters to the completionists out there, with unlockable content such as new characters and venues, depending on how badly you want to re-do songs for higher scores. Thankfully, as is the norm with rhythm games these days, all of the game’s songs are unlocked from the start – meaning you can unwrap the game, pop it in, and jam with your friends without any issues.
If you’re yearning for more songs, you can import all of the tracks from the original for just $5 (as long as you have your code). Additionally, the store is more clean this time around, and new copies of the game come with enough Microsoft Points to buy one extra song.
While Dance Central 2 hasn’t done anything vastly different to move the genre forward, it is still a solid entry, and has solidified itself as a solid franchise. As long as you don’t mind looking a little goofy in front of friends, you really can’t go wrong popping this in at a party to liven the mood a bit.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 game Dance Central 2.