DanceMasters for Kinect
Like DDR for your hands, arms, legs, feet, and body.
Konami’s DanceMasters is the metaphysical heir to Dance Dance Revolution. Instead of tracking your feet’s motions on a dance mat, the Kinect tracks your entire body. Not as good as Dance Central, but not a bad workout either.
Konami pretty much invented the dance genre game with Dance Dance Revolution. In many ways, DanceMasters is the evolution of DDR (in fact, the game is called Dance Evolution in the UK). But instead of matching your feet to positions on a mat, now you’re matching your arms and body to positions in the air.
Unlike Dance Central and Dance Paradise, DanceMasters doesn’t have a marquee set of licensed songs. If you’ve played DDR before, you’ll be familiar with the kinds of songs available–they’re mostly J-pop or techno-flavored songs with electronic music and a continual frenetic driving beat. Many of them are actually remakes of classic DDR songs.
In the game your goal, as in Dance Central, is to dance to match the on-screen dancer’s moves. Unlike Dance Central, the game doesn’t track all your movement, but rather has “checkpoints” where you need to either match the on-screen character’s body outline shape (marked by a green silhouette that appears on the screen), or you need to have your hands in a certain point in the air (marked by circles). In that sense, it’s a lot like DDR. In fact, just as with DDR, you’re given a letter grade at the end, and the same ebullient male voice shouts out you how great or how horrible you were. Here’s my first attempt at dancing to a song at the “Intermediate” level. You’ll notice that even though I have horrific coordination I managed to get a mediocre score just by trying to match the right patterns with the right timing.
You can play the game as a pattern matching game, but to truly get the most of out of the game you really need to try to match the on-screen dancer’s moves perfectly. This is where it gets a little tricky–the on-screen dancer’s motions are really fast and intricate, and there’s no way to break down the dance steps, so you’re on your own as far as figuring them out. As with DDR, you will eventually get better if you play the game over and over again; question is, will you have the patience to do that?
As far as the workout you get with DanceMasters, it’s pretty good, especially if you set the difficult to “Master” level. The difficulty levels basically control how many “checkpoints” come up during the game; at higher levels, of course, you get many more checkpoints and thus you’re forced to move a lot more.
One thing that DanceMasters has that none of the dance games have is phenomenal graphics. The on-screen character is detailed and realistic, unlike the cartoony characters of other dance games. Plus, you have the option of seeing yourself on the stage dancing with the main character (it comes out as a silhouette in the video I uploaded above mainly because I’m so danged bashful–plus, would you want that performance plastered all over YouTube? 😛
I’ll say the same thing I said in my review of Dance Central. Had Dance Central never come out, I probably would have given this a more positive review. But the fact that Dance Central has things like real choreographed dances to familiar songs, the ability to break down dances by step puts that one head and shoulders above this one. I’d say that if you like frenetic “club” type music, and a pattern matching game that’s has a clearer, more precise, and easier to understand scoring mechanism than Dance Central, you’ll really enjoy DanceMasters. Otherwise, you’re probably better off going with Dance Central or the upcoming Just Dance 3.