Dance Central Hands-On

You're dancing for real this time. Gone are the days of waving remotes and stomping on dance pads.

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Dancing and singing games easily become party favorites because you've got good music along with gameplay that comes naturally (for some), and everyone loves watching friends get up in front of a crowd to show off what they’ve got. Dance Central is probably one of the best uses for Kinect so far: you get up in front of the television, follow the avatar onscreen, and shake your booty to songs from popular singers like Lady Gaga and Lipps.

It's fist-pumping time.
It's fist-pumping time.

To navigate through the simple menu, you hold out your right arm and move it up and down to select the song or difficulty setting. You use your left arm when you want to move back. When you're ready to make a selection, you sweep your arm across your chest to confirm. The hard part comes when you've actually got to dance. You can't get away with doing the bare minimum anymore--although you can if you're keeping it on easy. Like in any dance class, you mirror the dance instructor, but Dance Central also has a list of moves on the right-hand side of the screen to give you a heads-up on what's coming next.

It's probably better to keep your eye on the list of moves, unless you know the steps already. Different-colored halos around your character indicate how well you're keeping the beat. Sometimes your avatar will have a red outline around her arm or leg, which is a subtle way of letting you know that you need to work harder to keep the beat.

Halfway through the song, there will be a freestyle session, where the screen turns into all kinds of psychedelic colors and you can do whatever you want. The caveat is that afterward, there will be a quick video playback of what you were doing so you can see how awesome you looked. A five-star rating and score will let you know how you stack up against your friends.

We're curious to see what other songs will be included in the game when it ships along with Kinect on November 4. What we do know is that it is incredibly fun, and it's the kind of game you'll want everyone to get into, regardless of how good their dance skills are. Not only is Dance Central fun to play, but it's just as amusing, if not more, to watch. If you don't believe us, see our demo.

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