Music games come in all shapes and sizes these days. Well, they did, that is until the musical bubble burst not too long ago, marking a fizzling out of the whole music game hype. Guitar Hero hasn’t seen a new title in quite a while, and Rock Band isn’t going to be seeing any more action in the future either, so has the day of the rhythmical-input music game all but passed? Well, yes and no, because although there aren’t going to be many new ground-breaking musical games released any time soon, people are still “shredding” on plastic guitars and beating make-believe drums along to the music with the various Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, and one other sphere of this genre that doesn’t seem to want to lay down and die is that of Dance Games. A product of Harmonix Music Systems and Backbone Entertainment, the Dance Central games have always been at the forefront of dance-based gaming, and Dance Central 3 marks a culmination of the efforts of the previous two, recruiting the tremendous power of Xbox’s Kinect hardware to deliver an unparalleled form of engaging entertainment that makes the Nintendo Wii look like it was made by a bunch of children.
Exclusive to the Xbox because of its utilisation of the Kinect sensor, Dance Central 3 is the latest of the Dance Central games, which have always been sort of the demonstrative tools which Xbox has used to display the potential for the motion-sensing Kinect software, and you can see why. The game uses motion sensors to detect the moves you throw in response to the on-screen demonstrative icons. This mechanic has been the staple of Dance Central since the original and it remains unchanged here as well. In fact, much of the framework of the game is identical to its predecessors, save for the storyline and the songs, though this isn’t through idleness or complacency on the developers’ part but rather the whole point of such a series, which is to provide consistent dance-based entertainment by retaining its successful structure whilst swapping out the variables to make for improved experiences every time.
The storyline is where the game really gets to show off its tongue-in-cheek and at times self-referential cheesiness. The main quest has you travelling back in time to defeat the evil Dr. Tan not by any conventional methods, but rather by learning the moves and steps of various dance crazes throughout recent history. It may sound ridiculous, but this storyline provides the ideal platform for bringing you the widest selection of different styles of dance that you can imagine. Completing the main story mode unlocks Master Quest and along with it a bunch of new songs for you to try and attain 5 stars with, and with the unbelievable accuracy of Xbox’s Kinect hardware, all that is holding you back is your dance moves, which just so happen to be lucky enough to receive the coaching of none other than Usher himself. If you’re more of a fan of Michael Jackson’s style, then perhaps the Michael Jackson Dancing Game will suit your more, but Usher (and his choreographer) do a great job of coaching you and even bringing you special versions of OMG and Scream.
The game has a few other modes to keep you entertained once you’ve finished story mode as well. Party Time mode is simply a casual-get-together-with-friends sort of experience whereas Crew Throwdown is about as competitive as it sounds. Rehearse Mode also lets you go through each of the songs on a step-by-step basis so that you can learn the ins and outs of them before you’re dancing in the big leagues.
If you’re looking for the very best dance experience and a more main stream feel than others such as the Hip Hop Dance Experience, then Dance central 3 is most definitely the way to go. The graphics are fantastic, the storyline is ridiculously entertaining and flat-out ridiculous in the best of ways, and more importantly the Kinect is far superior to the motion sensing technology of the Wii, the platform on which competitor Just Dance is based. Dance Central is by far the superior series and this third iteration is the best yet.