Dance Central is probably the best dancing game I’ve ever played. That might not be saying much, but it’s the first full-body music game I’ve ever experienced, one that encourages you to get on your feet and moving. Dance Central is the future of dancing games, with Harmonix (of Rock Band and Guitar Hero fame) creating a truly engaging and inviting experience. This is the definitive party game for Kinect, and while it’s not perfect, it’s easily the best launch title for the new motion-sensing device for the 360.
In Dance Central, Kinect reads your body movements as you move to a series of “flash cards”, which are onscreen prompts that execute a move onscreen. Movements vary from a simple shake of the leg to an elaborate full-body shake down, and the game really gets you moving and jiving on the higher difficulties. While the playlist is limited at only 30 songs, each has three difficulties, which are unlocked progressively as you complete each track. Dance Central can get quite challenging, even for the most experienced and flexible of dancers, so there’s plenty of depth when it comes to challenge. It’s going to take you a while to complete every song successfully, as restarts and failures on some tracks are almost a certainty.
Thankfully, Dance Central is quite accessible for the most novice of dancers, with the Break It Down tutorial mode taking you through each of the moves in the game at a slow and relaxed pace. The announcer also helps you with directions as the moves appear on screen. It’s great that a game of this caliber has a mode like this, as practice modes in other dancing games in the past, namely challenging titles like the Dance Dance Universe series, haven’t been informative or directive enough to really fill you in on the basics of the gameplay. The only downside of this mode is that it doesn’t allow you to choose dance moves individually, although moving through each at a slow pace is probably more beneficial in the long run.
For the most part, Kinect registers your movements with utmost accuracy, and you’ll find that most of the time when an error is registered on screen, it’s through your own inability to pull off the move, rather that Kinect not be able to sense your movements. Furthermore, most of the movies in Dance Central are realistically achievable for any type of person, so don’t expect to be doing insane break dancing moves or flips in the air – the game is challenging, but you won’t be doing completely impossible dance moves.
Not surprisingly, you’re going to work up quite a sweat with Dance Central. If heading to the gym isn’t your cup of tea, you can burn the calories in the game’s workout mode, which gives you a rough estimate of calories burned based on your weight and the difficulty of the song. It works well because this is a title that’s going to tire you out, and while this is more a party game than a fitness game, you can definitely get a good workout with Dance Central.
The only major downfall in Dance Central is its track listing and features set. It’s quite clear that this is a launch title, a game designed to cater to a casual audience as an introduction to a piece of hardware. Considering Harmonix developed this, it’s extremely disappointing to see only 30 tracks and limited features outside of the main experience. No DLC has been announced yet, and while that’s a possibility, the limited number of tracks is still a major disappointment.
The Final Verdict
Driven by great functionality with Kinect, a great level of challenge and an overall inviting dancing experience, Dance Central is easily the best launch title for Kinect, as well as probably the best dancing game for a console ever. However, it’s let down by a small track list, although each song is unlocked right from the start, which is great.