November 12, 2012 by GEL
It’s no secret that I love music games. It’s also no secret that dancing games are the one thing the Kinect can do relatively well. The problem: they all have crappy interfaces. Yes, even Dance Central. Full body dancing games are a new frontier, and it is difficult to tell players what you want them to do, when you want them to do it (with adequate warning), as well as what they did wrong. Suffice it to say, Dance Central didn’t get this right.
Let’s not forget they’re excellent at announcing errors! Lighting up the out-of-sync body parts was a brilliant idea! That’s where brilliance ends. The two silhouettes representing each dance move don’t really tell you what to do in time, and the commands scroll at an awkward rate with even less warning. The only way to play a song in Dance Central is to memorize the dance steps first, and it’s really hard to get excited about all the lengthy tutorials.
What makes matters worse is every two-bit bargain basement dancing game copies Dance Central. Three installments later, these issues should have been addressed. However, Harmonix seems satisfied to rest on their laurels. After all, Dance Central is the best dancing game on the market. What do they have to worry about?
Well when GEL doesn’t want to play your games, I think there’s a problem (I’ve even tried We Cheer!). I’ve tried the demos for Dance Central 2 and 3 and absolutely cannot convince myself to buy the games. There just…doesn’t seem like much of a point. It’s just more of the same.
I want to mention The Black Eyed Peas Experience on Kinect. Not because of The Black Eyed Peas —I’m pretty indifferent towards the group itself— but because of iNiS. Yes, the fine folks that made Elite Beat Agents and Gitaroo Man worked on the Kinect version of the game. The result was a strange and flashy dancing game that got a lot more correct than its competitors. The interface used animated silhouettes to represent each dance move and had a clear countdown timer to when it would switch moves.
Whats more, it’s the only Kinect dancing game with custom characters. It means that the game can reward you for doing well in the form of new clothing and customization options, giving you a reason to play beyond “I feel like dancing”. This became even more important as they actually worked learning the dance steps into the game as stages of their own. Stages which contributed to you earning more stuff.
The only problem, aside from how polarizing The Black Eyed Peas can be, was the fact that the game didn’t tell you what you were doing wrong. If only there were a way to combine the two.
Dance Central 3 certainly didn’t do that. It’s more of the same, but now with a time travel gimmick, some new modes, and a story. Admittedly, these are significant additions, but it doesn’t address my major problem with the game: the poor interface.
Meanwhile, to my surprise, The Black Eyed Peas Experience is getting a Pea-less sequel with The Hip Hop Dance Experience once again from iNiS!
Custom characters return and the dancing silhouettes, countdown timer, and general interface remain. Next, at least a few prayers are answered. Not only are there new modes, but the out-of-sync body parts are highlighted in red just like Dance Central! Why, the game even tracks what dance moves you are worst at and encourages you to get better at them! It looks like we may have a contender for the best dancing game on Kinect!