Dance Central 3
With the party season upon us, now felt like the perfect time to take a look at a game that had previously slipped under the D+PAD radar – namely Dance Central 3. When first launched, the Dance Central games were instant system-sellers, especially for people with no shame when performing in front of the three unblinking robot eyes of the Kinect. Assessing games of this type can be difficult as they’re often incremental in nature; the latest instalment of Dance Central does bring some changes to the formula however, some welcome and some not, and then of course there’s the soundtrack – a vital element to the appeal of any game of this type. So, does Dance Central 3 bring the funk or is it more junk?
For the uninitiated, Dance Central 3 has you following flashcards with highlighted body parts as the bits you need to move. There’s also one of several characters dancing in the centre of the screen and you need to mirror their actions. This way, you half-know, half-intuit what’s coming up. The game has a training mode, although you can just dive right in and have a good time regardless of how competent your dance moves.
The main ’story’ mode of Dance Central has you, the player, travelling through time to recover agents in the field in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and the present. Each pair of agents have been looking into dance moves to combat the evil Dr Tan and his dance zombies. He only wants one dance to exist and it’s powerful enough that rather than looking into the past’s dances, the Dance Central Intelligence operatives have to go back and experience that decade for themselves. The dances of the past all make up a SUPER DANCE of that specific era, The Hustle, The Electric Slide (apparently), The Macarena and so on. These are the weapons you will use to fight Dr Tan. It’s silly, but it’s exactly what you’d want in a story mode in a dance game.
The multiplayer has been improved. Dance Central always felt like the more polished, formal version of Just Dance, a game which has an anarchic sense of fun. There’s, “Make a Move”, which plays a song in the background and two players have to make up a dance move, repeat it, then the other player does the same. Then, both players’ moves are put together into a whole dance routine. “Keep the Beat” simply lets you dance however you want to any track, as long as you keep to the timing. There are normal co-operative and battle modes for each track. And then there are the photos. You can keep and share photos from each dance routine, so the humiliation lasts longer.
Party Mode is the big addition to Dance Central 3, highlighting random songs and modes, easily shuffled and skipped until people find something they like. This makes it harder to find specific songs, but has potential for selecting random gems and challenging you to dance modes you might not normally do. “Bust a Move” as a Dance Battle? Why not? “Maneater” in Make-a-Move? Okay then. As all the old songs can be ported forward as DLC, there’s a lot to choose from.
The best asset (and occasional nuisance) to Party Mode is Xbox’s Smartglass which allows you to communicate directly with the game using a smart phone or tablet you can. The Party DJ mode lets you select the next song to queue up, if you want to dance to something specific, or a cruel, cruel friend can use it to make you dance to LMFAO. The Smartglass App really helps the problem of getting to random songs, but there are a couple of caveats. At this time you can’t share pictures in Party Mode, as it’ll be handled through the app. Also, at times the search function froze in place, stopping you from scrolling through the tracks. The final bug in this mode is that a simple right hand swipe skips the selected song and there’s no way back if you’ve gone past your chosen song by accident.
The song list for Dance Central 3 is as good as it is bad, in my opinion. Of course that’s subjective, here’s a link to the song list in case you don’t all have my taste in music. And if not, why not!?
In the story mode, you will be subjected to some awful (again, LMFAO) songs, but as it deals in past and present music, there’s a lot of quality hidden in there. Several of the terrible songs so have good moves they put you through to even things out (Nicki Minaj’s Starships). There’s a lot of cheese, but it’s glorious cheese (Backstreet’s Back, Ice Ice Baby, The Hustle) and even some pleasant surprises (Daft Punk’s Around the World, 2NE1’s I am the Best). The best thing to do when you put on Dance Central 3 is to embrace shame, put your dignity aside and get dancing. Oh, and then there’s the latest DLC, which includes Gangnam Style. You know you want to horsey dance. Oh yes you do.
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