Dance Central Preview for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360
Dance Central screenshot
Dance Central screenshot

The dancer demonstrating Harmonix' Dance Central at Microsoft's Christmas Showcase was, in all sincerity, the most attractive example of the female gender I've ever seen in my life. She had a perfect head of flowing auburn hair, electric blue eyes and a body that would have made Aphrodite herself jealous. I had to take a second to calm myself down after watching her cavort about the stage in a rhythmic fashion to the beat of Poker Face. This isn't particularly relevant to the discussion at hand, but hopefully it gives you a good mental picture to work with as you read. Dance Central is a cool game for attractive young people, a far cry from the DDR days of old. Once again Harmonix is taking something that Konami has done for years, and made it fresh, funky and relevant. And there isn't a cheap plastic peripheral in sight.

Wii gamers are welcome to kick up a fuss here. After all, Ubisoft's Just Dance abandoned the dance mat long before Harmonix was on the scene. Let's be honest though: while it was hugely successful, it wasn't a great game, was it? Dance Central is different. It retains the high production values and gorgeous aesthetic of its instrumental forbears, and uses the Kinect technology in an incredibly fitting way. With Just Dance laying the ground work and bringing motion-controlled dancing to the masses, Harmonix is free to swoop in and show the industry how it's really done.

The concept is alarmingly simple: you stand in front of your TV (with the Kinect camera placed appropriately on top, of course) and dance along to the music as prompted by a series of tiles that scroll down the screen. Instead of following notes, as you might in Rock Band, you execute specific dance moves as designated by the game. This might be a 'chest pump' a 'hitch hike' or a 'hip swing', but either way you'll have to pull off the move in time to the beat, ready to execute the next one straight after. There are over 200 of these move tiles, and becoming familiar with each and every one of them is the key to high scores.

'Perform It' is Dance Central's equivalent of a career mode, allowing players to work their way through the games routines in a progressive fashion. Like other rhythm action titles, successive correct moves build up to form combos. String together enough moves, and you'll get yourself that familiar multiplier, allowing you to attain higher scores and the opportunity to Freestyle - the equivalent of Guitar Hero’s Star Power. Freestyle allows players to ditch the move tiles and dance without instruction. The screen becomes a mess of psychedelic swirls, and the Kinect camera tracks your moves as a live stream of your performance appears in a silhouette on the screen. It's a nice little deviation from the structured nature of the routines, and a chance to really let the rhythm take over. One chap at the event used the opportunity to get down on the floor and break-dance, which although spectacularly bad, was just as entertaining as you'd imagine.

The gorgeous, chunky character models we've grown accustomed to in Guitar Hero and Rock Band have made their way into Dance Central too. It looks great. As the lovely dancer lady (God, I wish I knew her name) strutted her stuff, her on-screen avatar faithfully mimicked her routine. I did wonder what would happen if she fluffed a move, though. Would her avatar mimic the mistake also, as a true 1-to-1 representation would? Or would her avatar slip into a stock fumble, and then pick up when she started dancing correctly again? This is something I'll just have to find out for myself; our girl wasn't about to make a mistake anytime soon.

Dance Central screenshot

The full track-list has yet to be announced, but 'Body Movin' by the Beastie Boys, 'Hella Good' by No Doubt and 'Galang '05' by M.I.A. all join Lady Gaga's immortal classic 'Poker Face' in the initial line-up. The teeny boppers of younger generations will revel in the game's topical collection of tunes, and I suspect an older, more dignified audience will probably do the same - albeit behind closed doors and with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages. Dance Central will shine in social situations such as these, especially given the fact that two backing dancers can bop alongside each player in a routine.

My experiences with Kinect thus far have done little to fill me with hope. The few games I've played have lacked originality, not responded to my input and been met with more than a twinge of frustration. While I didn’t get the opportunity to bust out any crazy moves of my own, I saw enough of Dance Central to know it looked promising. It might just be the best example of the Kinect technology out there, and is a genuine leap forward for the dance sub-genre of video games.

A prediction to finish, then: Dance Central will be phenomenally successful, the start of another massive franchise from Harmonix, and one of the very few games people will be talking about with enthusiasm after Kinect launches. Mark my words.

Dance Central will be available on Xbox 360 this October

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Highest Rated Comment

Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar

Stegosaurus-Guy-II

Quote:
Dance Central is a cool game for attractive young people

Seeing as I'm their target audience I think my opinion is more important than anyone else's.

Show Spoiler It looks stupid.
Posted 12:42 on 28 July 2010

User Comments

Endless's Avatar

Endless@ dudester

Correct. A quick wiki shows me it was £70.
Posted 15:04 on 29 July 2010
dudester's Avatar

dudester

Wii fit was not that much.

If move pricing is bad then I really fail to see how kinect pricing is any better?
Posted 13:11 on 29 July 2010
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ CheekyLee

Wii Fit was £100+£29.99 wasn't it? People still bought that in droves.

You think Kinect is a big outlay?
Sony just shot itself in the foot
Posted 12:57 on 29 July 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ pblive

Not at all. For 360 owners, they don't need to buy a new console to play Gears 2. They do need to buy Kinect to play Dance Central. Unless you know of some way to magically make my existing Elite recognise my movements?
Posted 11:48 on 29 July 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ CheekyLee

That's like saying the entry price for Gears of War 2 is Game+Console, surely?

Even so, if you only buy it for one game then it's not worth it, whatever game that is. If you're buying it for Dance Central, Star Wars and something else then it spreads the cost.
Posted 10:11 on 29 July 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ pblive

For Wii owners the entry price to Just Dance is £24.99. For 360 owners the entry price to Dance Central will be £129.99 + whatever the game itself will cost. I'd say it's a bit of a barrier to sales.
Posted 09:32 on 29 July 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Maybe Dance Central will be the biggest test of Kinect's ability to read 1:1 body movements. I imagine it would have to read from head to feet and work out what your feet were doing too, or not bother with anything below the legs.

If they fix all the lag journalists are talking about then I could see this being really fun. Even if they don't I can see this selling, Just Dance didn't always pick up on movements either but was still (and still is) great fun.
Posted 08:25 on 29 July 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

A Dancing game? What were they thinking? Dancing games never sell. Just look at Just Dance....oh, wait....
Posted 08:15 on 29 July 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

Click for Image
Posted 07:47 on 29 July 2010
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar

Stegosaurus-Guy-II@ Karlius

Oh no, that's not me at all.

There's no fat on me anywhere and I shower everyday.
Posted 23:55 on 28 July 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ Stegosaurus-Guy-II

So the thesis still remains. Only now I envisage you slightly wider with slightly less care for personal hygiene.
Posted 23:38 on 28 July 2010
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar

Stegosaurus-Guy-II@ Karlius

I don't know, there's something odd about a 40 (probably) year old asking a 17 year old pictures of him looking 'attractive' on the internet.

But oh well, here I am.

Posted 23:30 on 28 July 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ Stegosaurus-Guy-II

To quote a great man. James Orry.

Pics and Proof I.E. A pic of you with A piece of paper with your name on it. Or I will forever think of you as this:

Posted 15:46 on 28 July 2010
Locke_Daemonfire's Avatar

Locke_Daemonfire

Just FYI, the game avatar doesn't follow you, you follow it. As such, if the amazingly pretty girl messed something up, the avatar would keep right on going. I think they said that it's supposed to be so that the game seems less judgmental, so it's easier to be comfortable dancing.
Posted 15:34 on 28 July 2010
jtorry's Avatar

jtorry

Pics or it didn't happen.
Posted 14:26 on 28 July 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 10/11/2010
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: MTV Games
Genre: Dance
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 16,092 34
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