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Dance Central: The Microsoft Xbox360 Kinect Experience

A reviewgitation of Dance Central with Direcow Avatar Direcow and Kakita  Avatar Kakita

Direcow  AvatarHere at HereBeGeeks we’ve been huge fans of Harmonix since the early days of Guitar Hero (yes, the original) on the Playstation 2 when we rocked out with wired guitars (yes, not wireless) and more often than not nearly pulled the entire console off it’s table while rocking out (yes, we rock it hard). And even before that, we’ve been fans of DDR, which we only played privately on the Playstation (yes, the original), dancing our lungs out on the plastic mats during get togethers and ignoring all else (yes, things like socialising). While all this might go to explain how we became the people we are today, we’re not here to talk about that. Instead, we’re here to talk about the Kinect experience in general – and specifically, Harmonix’s new game for the XBOX360, Dance Central.


We’ve tried the Kinect previously, and we even took some videos to show it (starring our special guest star), but this is the final release, so it’s a good time to take a proper in depth look.

Kakita  AvatarMost of us have how the Kinect works, and while it might not be the most accurate way to chart movement or acceleration or what have you, we all know from the Nintendo DS and Wii that you don’t exactly need to know technical specs to make a fun console or game.
Harmonix’s new Dance Central game is one of those games that can leverage the non-controllerness of the Kinect into new levels of awesomeness. Like Dance Dance Revolution or Para Para Paradise, you try to follow dance moves. Unlike them, you don’t have a button to stamp or lines to cross, and you don’t just use only your arms or legs alone; you use your entire body, which is a lot more awesome than it sounds. Because the Kinect maps all of you, playing this game is literally a workout for your whole body. Also, because you have to use your body’s entire range of motion, the moves you perform in Dance Central are a lot more natural than its predecessors. You also can’t fail in Dance Central, which helps because it is a bit of a learning curve. With sufficient practice though it really feels as if you’re dancing.

Direcow  AvatarAnd having been through some beginner hip-hop lessons before, I’d have to say that quite a lot of the moves feel very natural. And more often than not, the moves in hard go smoother than those in easy, in a situation somewhat similar to the easy mode in Rock Band or Guitar Hero where you might just end up overstrumming when all you have to do is to hit on boring note. And on the previous note, even other people playing Dance Central have remarked about how natural the moves feel – professional choreographers aside, I think one thing Dance Central has going for it is the fact that quite a few of the moves either match the lyrics of the song, or even better, match parts of the MTV. Wonder why they call the move “blazer” in Jay Sean’s ‘Down’? Watch the MTV to find out!

Sadly the game suffers from the same issues that the Kinect does – a huge requirement for space. 1.8m from the sensor is pretty fine, and we do manage that amount of space to get our gaming done, but when swapping players in and out we do end up with some issues, such as having Wai’s arms disappearing off the top of the screen. Like I said, most of the time these things work, but for a perfect gaming experience more 1.8m will be recommended. Beyond that, the almost negligible lag and the very intuitive and almost tactile control system make navigating and playing the game very enjoyable.

Kakita  AvatarBut all the positives wouldn’t mean anything without fun songs. And most of the songs in Dance Central are really fun. Running the gamut from Reggae to Hip Hop to Techno, Dance Central provides you with the whole range of dance moves, which mesh pretty perfectly with whatever song you are playing. Some songs are old but classics, but there are quite a few songs that still see playtime in the current club scene.

Direcow  AvatarAnd of course Wai would be familiar with that – him being a huge party animal and all. Personally I’m more of a fan of the oldies.

Kakita  AvatarGraphics aren’t exactly top notch, reminding me of Rockband and Guitar Hero graphics, but really they do all they need to do; illustrate archetypal characters (from the Emo kid to the Lady GaGa wannabe) and show you how to dance. This is a dance game after all, not an FPS or JRPG.


Direcow  AvatarI definitely don’t mind the graphics at all, in fact I really like what they’ve done in terms of the effect, and each character has their own personality. And beyond that the animation is really spot on – the motion capture is almost perfect, and each move is performed just as you’d imagine a top dancer would do it. Add the little touches that each character brings to the dance, and it’s like a whole new dance each time. Sadly, most of the secondary costumes for each character are worse than the original, but I guess that means we won’t be worrying about unlocking new costumes. And as for that Emo kid… Wai might be talking about Oblio, but I kind of think that he’s more of a Japanese dance archetype.

Kakita  AvatarAnother thing that does matter though is the range of songs. At about 32 songs (36 after day 1 DLC inclusing Janet Jackson’s ‘Control’ which is free with pre-orders), the list of music could be improved. We’ve been playing it for only 3 days, and while we haven’t yet gotten bored of the selection, it is entirely a possibility. Still, the DLCs have just come out, and it looks hopeful. Especially if they keep up with the quality of music. I am expecting loads of fun dancing along to Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’, and would give just about anything to hear Daft Punk’s ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ in Dance Central.
Direcow  AvatarAnd being a fan of the older tracks, Tag Team’s ‘Whoomp There It Is’ and Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ are my choice of the latest DLC, but I think ‘I Gotta Feeling’ is going to be a huge party hit.

Kakita  AvatarUntil then though I’ll be practicing my moves on the Kinect.

Direcow  AvatarAnd so will I – time permitting. It’s definitely addictive, and now there are moments during the day where I just want to burst into dance. Just this morning someone was blasting ‘Temperature’ on their earphones – and I definitely wanted to jump up. Maybe I’m getting carried away, but that’s also a testament as to how fun the game is. Totally recommended, unless you be a haterz, yo.

Kakita  AvatarHaters gonn’ hate. =p


Direcow  AvatarAnd to end off here’s another video – once again our guest star returns, this time trying to redeem himself after getting that silly score for Easy mode. And on a different song! He’s a brave soul indeed.

direcow

The technological backbone of HereBeGeeks.com, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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