Dance Central • Page 3

Boogie wonderland.

So as multiplayer games go, it's disappointing – but it's still a good party game. Even in single-player mode, the routines are fun to do and hilarious to watch. This makes Dance Central an ideal title to pull out when you've got a mixed group of show-offs and spectators to entertain. It's just a shame you can't dance and score points simultaneously with other players.

It's also a shame that the tracks on the disc won't appeal to all tastes and ages, as is essential for family groups. It's not that there are too few to choose from - there are more than 30 in total, covering genres such as pop, hip-hop and dancehall. Along with familiar chart-toppers like Pon De Replay and Can't Get You Out of My Head there are tracks by the likes of M.I.A. and Soulja Boy, plus classic floor-fillers such as Salt 'n' Pepa's Push It and Poison by Bell Biv Devoe.

Which is all great, if you like that sort of thing, and a lot of people do. But many of the tracks are too recent or too cool to be familiar to small children and old grannies. All of them have a certain cachet, if in some cases it's a purely ironic one. You won't find the likes of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Hot Stuff or Fame knocking around Dance Central. This game wouldn't want to belong to any club which would have Boney M as a member.

Here's hoping a broader range of tracks, i.e. some cheesier ones, will turn up in the download store. At the time of writing there was nothing to buy in there but it seems likely Dance Central will follow the Rock Band model, with new songs added on a regular basis. A few more family-friendly ones on the disc would have been welcome.

But in Dance Central's defence, it's not setting itself up to be as family-friendly as the Just Dances of this world. It's meant to be a proper dancing game for proper gamers, one which meets their demands for structure and depth. This game doesn't just evaluate how good you are at waggling your wrist, it tracks and assesses the movements of your entire body.

Or so the theory goes. In practice, there may be a bit of emperor's new leg warmers going on.

Dance Central uses a system called Limb Feedback to help you perfect your performances. Get a step wrong and a Ready brek-style red glow will appear around the relevant appendage of the avatar you're copying, indicating that you need to make an adjustment. When you do well words like "NICE!" and "FLAWLESS!" appear, and you start racking up score multipliers.

Getting immediate, specific feedback is great, and there's a real sense of reward for earning those positive assessments. You don't have to suspend your disbelief as with those waggle-based dancing games – it feels like Kinect really is tracking your whole body.

But how accurately is it actually doing this? After a few hours of play, by which time I was knackered, I found I could achieve those "NICE!" and "FLAWLESS" assessments with the most half-hearted arm movements. I even tried performing a song with my feet rooted to the spot and found that while my numbers were down, I managed to rack up a pretty good score.

There are two conclusions which could be be drawn from this. One, that I am the best dancer in the world, which we knew already. Two, that Kinect isn't really evaluating how well you pull off dance moves with any precision - it's just measuring waggle on a full-body scale.

But even if that's true, who cares? It doesn't affect how enjoyable Dance Central is to play. Nor does it change the fact this is a well-structured, finely tuned and highly polished game.

Yes, it's also a flawed one, with its disappointing multiplayer options and track listing which won't appeal to everyone. All the same, there are hours of fun on offer here for serious solo players and groups of drunk idiots alike.

So fling that dance mat out of the window. While you're at it chuck out all your preconceptions about games like this, along with any shreds of dignity. If you can manage that, Dance Central will show you a really good time.

8 /10

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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