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E3 2010: Dance Central - hands-on and butts-up!

You could say we were skeptical about Microsoft and Sony’s showy stabs at motion control. More accurately, we were probably a little too cynical and on occasion, outright rude. But with the E3 dust finally settled, I’m as shocked as anyone to tell you that one of my favorite demos of the entire show was… a Kinect dancing game?!

Above: Oh, I had help. Internet sensation of the day, Kassen Crooker was there to lend a dancing hand

Keep your War Gears and your Twisty Metals, Dance Central threw me for an unexpected loop with something wildly fresh and boldly innovative, especially when compared to a showfloor full of sequels, reboots and a tertiary dimension. Can’t believe I was so surprised… the controllerless wonder is in the incredibly capable hands of Harmonix, the leading developer of all things musical.

As my only “hands-on” time with Kinect, I was pretty blown away by how responsive Microsoft’s new device was. Christ, the menus alone finally fulfilled the promise of graceful gesture commands Tom Cruise promised me in Minority Report, plus you see a consistent silhouette of yourself during play that lets you know when you’re acting the fool. Dance Central’s moves unspool similarly to guitar licks on Rock Band’s fret board.

Above: Moves scroll on an upwards wheel... not unlike the music selection chart in DDR?

You can see upcoming steps clearly as they approach, yet the move highlighted is the only one you need to keep with the beat. Not only did the game wade me onto the dance floor with almost instantaneous confidence, it was physically satisfying in a way that won’t exhaust someone who doesn’t have a gym membership (and smokes like a champ!)

Simple and intuitive, Dance Central is truly dancing evolved. Harmonix looks to have finally provided the legs this little sub genre needed to move forward after years of updated setlists disguised as new DDR titles and bullshit button mashers like Boogie.

Above: If the Rocky movies were about dancing, this is the frame they'd all end on

And this is coming from a lifelong wallflower who literally never dances! Born lanky and without an innate sense of rhythm, I don’t ever cut the proverbial rug out of fear of personal injury and the safety of others, but I had an unbelievably great time with Dance Central. And regardless of what you see from the video above, I actually did okay and can’t wait to play more… in private, that is.

Above: Did we mention the Freestyle mode?

Jun 23, 2010