Dance Central Review
Dance Central welcomes wallflowers and hot steppers out on the dance floor with great routines and engaging visuals.
- Great visuals are both invigorating and informative
- Wide breadth of dance complexity
- Helpful training mode
- Hard to resist dancing along with your friends.
- Weird photo functionality.
Dance video games are not a new phenomenon, but the full-body tracking capabilities of the Kinect have created a new controller-and-mat-free opportunity for the genre to strut its stuff. Enter Dance Central, a game that invites experienced move busters and reluctant rug cutters alike to stand up in front of their televisions and dance to a wide variety of popular songs. Dancing along to these songs is inherently fun, but it's also very satisfying to nail a tough routine or master a tricky move because you know the game is actually tracking your whole body. The large, expressive dancers and clue-laden flash cards give you all the visual information you need to learn and then master the routine. The broad spectrum of dance complexity also caters to players of all skill levels. As long as you are willing to shake what your momma gave ya and aren't worried about a little perspiration, Dance Central can light your living room up like Saturday night at the dance hall.
One thing that makes Dance Central so appealing is how easy it is to play. You start up the game, pick a song, and then mirror the vibrantly animated performer onscreen as you dance through the song-specific routine. Helpful flash cards scroll up the side of the screen and tell you what move is coming next, and there's even a small window where you can watch your silhouette in action. The whole display is so lively and communicative that it's easy to get drawn into the action and forget that--to any onlookers--you might look kind of silly. In fact, the music and visuals create such an infectious dance vibe that any onlookers will likely be tempted to join in the routine themselves. Even though the game only tracks one player at a time, anyone can dance along, providing they don't obstruct the primary player. Dance Central is one of the rare games that encourages and enables multiplayer action without requiring any extra profile sign-in or peripherals. This makes it a very welcoming and social experience, but it's not without a few barriers.
Firstly, you need space to stand up and move around without bumping into things. Many moves require side-to-side or front-to-back movement, and though you can tone your own movements down to take up less room, you still need more than a few square feet. Secondly, you need to be willing to sweat. Dance Central is an aerobic game that engages your whole body and will likely elevate your heart rate. Some may consider this (and the optional calorie counter) a benefit, while others may not be up for it. Performing more than a few songs in a row is definitely an athletic activity, which makes social Dance Central gatherings somewhat less casual than those featuring other rhythm games.
Anyone who has played other rhythm games will be familiar with the scoring system in Dance Central. You earn points for busting moves correctly, and your overall performance is graded on a five-star scale. The Kinect tracks your whole body very well, covering a diverse range of motion, and the game even gives you partial credit for moves you don't completely nail. You also get some helpful feedback from the dancer you are mirroring: If one or more of the dancer's body parts flash red, you know that part of your body is out of sync. Dance Central strikes a nice balance by tracking you closely enough to make it rewarding to nail a move, but not so closely that one errant hip sway is going to ruin your routine.