image courtesy of bloque interactivo (via Flickr)

 

Kinect’s latest dance number is worth trotting out for.

 

The Dance Central series is already a well-established dance franchise and widely hailed as the best available. It’s known for its beautiful animations, energetic and fun dance routines catering to a wide range of skill levels, and the clever Kinect tracking that gets your whole body into the groove. In these regards, Dance Central 3 maintains the excellence of its predecessors, leaving the basic gameplay largely untouched. You still perform a wide variety of fun dance moves in routines that are expertly choreographed to match the music that accompanies them. The new party mode in particular is well worth giving your friends a call to get them over for a fun night in.

 

Easy does it

Of course, the meat and potatoes of the game remains the dancing itself. A beginner’s difficulty level has been introduced which keeps the routines simple, and allows the more novice dancer to still strut their stuff without the frustrations that were sometimes present on the previous games’ easy level. At the other end of the spectrum, hard level routines are complex, and will challenge more experienced dancers to keep up with intricate, physically demanding moves. The dances are performed by an assortment of impossibly attractive, stylish characters – some recognisable from the earlier titles – and their smooth, graceful animations make even the simplest of moves look effortlessly cool.

 

Practice makes perfect

As in earlier Dance Central games, cue cards scroll up along the side of the screen, indicating which moves are coming up in the current routine, and should your actions not quite match the dance move being performed, the corresponding limbs on your on-screen dancer will be outlined in red. It’s a gentle, effective way to inform you that your performance is a little off. Thankfully, the option to rehearse specific dance moves or entire songs is still available, and as before, you can slow things down and master a move at half speed if you’re struggling. A new addition to Rehearse mode makes it an even better tool for helping you identify aspects of a move you might be having trouble with. You can now have the Kinect show live footage of you dancing next to the in-game dancer performing the move, making it easier to spot any discrepancies between your actions and your character’s. The Kinect’s tracking of your moves is accurate and precise, transferring your off screen flailings and footsteps to your on-screen character with ease.

 

Gangnam’it

New in Dance Central 3 are a number of dance crazes from the past few decades, which consist of a few dance steps in a specific sequence. Such “gems” from the past include “The Hustle” and “The Macarena”, the latter especially requiring that the gamer’s pride be left at the doorstep! Along with the period dance routines, Dance Central 3 shores up its sense of history by including numerous songs from each of the past four decades. “Turn the Beat Around,” “I Will Survive,” and other tunes represent the ’70s. Grooves from the ’80s show up in the form of “Let the Music Play” and “You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff),” among others. You’ll have ’90s flashbacks thanks to songs like “Now That We Found Love” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” Joining this playlist are more recent titles from this decade and the 2000s featuring songs by Katy Perry, 50 Cent, Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 to name but a few. Available also is the latest and greatest (depending on your personal opinion) dance craze to sweep the globe, the ever present Gangnam Style. There is also an option to download songs from the previous Dance Central titles, these will work flawlessly with the new version.

 

Party time is worth the dime

Supporting Dance Central 3’s diverse soundtrack is an entertainingly silly Story mode. Dance Central Intelligence, or DCI, is our last line of defence against dance crimes, and you’re their newest recruit. You must dance your way through the ages to ensure freestyle moves are not eradicated by the oppressive “Dr Tan” whose evil dream is to turn dancing into a robotic and rigid discipline (presumably not the ‘80s dance ‘the robotics’). In addition to this, the more traditional Perform Mode allows you to tackle a routine by yourself or with a friend. But where this title really stands out is its superb Party Time mode. This mode automatically shuffles through songs and game types, so you can leave it running at a get-together of friends and people can jump up and play whenever the urge to dance strikes them.

 

Step to it

Kinect has definitely created a niche for itself with its sports and dance games. The latest offering carries on the dynasty’s reputation well. Whether you’re looking for a beginner-friendly dance experience, rigorous routines that challenge your skills and help you burn calories, or a terrific party game that gets everyone on their feet and having fun, Dance Central 3 will appeal.