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The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Review of Dance Paradise for Kinect

Posted by steve on July - 19 - 2011 with 1 Comment

Dance Paradise for Kinect

A so-so dance game for the Kinect.

Dance Paradise by THQ is less a “real dancing” game like Dance Central, and more of a throwback to the old “pattern matching” games on the Wii. Still, it provides some good fun in groups and a decent workout.

Rating by steve: 3.0 stars
***

Dance Paradise by THQ was one of the first dance games out for the Kinect, having been released back in February 2011. I started this site in April, so during these slow summer months before new games are released in October and November for the Christmas 2011 shopping season, I figure I’d go back and review some of the games I missed.

I’ll be honest. Given the poor reviews on Amazon and across the Web, my expectations weren’t too high for Dance Paradise. And sure enough, the game gets 3 stars from me.

Starting up the game, you see some very, very pixellated screens that look like something from out of the early 1990s. Not exactly what I’d expect from and Xbox 360. Not a great start. You’re given a brief overview of how the game works. As with games such as Just Dance for the Wii and Dance Central, you have to watch an on-screen figure and mimic its motions as if you’re dancing in a mirror. You can choose Training, Career, or Free mode, much like other games like Dance Dance Revolution. I selected Free mode, which happily let me play through any song without any “unlocking” nonsense.

Those of you who’ve read my reviews know I have a pet peeve about how every game manufacturer seems to insist on coming up with their own user interface for selecting items on a menu with a cursor. To select any menu item, you hover over it, wait for the “bubble” to fill up. This is not bad for selecting single menu items, but for some bizarre reason they decided to make this the way you navigate through 40 song choices. So to go from song 1 to song 40 is exceedingly annoying.

Once you finally get playing, the experience is less like Just Dance and Dance Central in that you’re not really dancing real, choreographed steps to the song. Rather, there’s a set number of “mini dance moves” which you need to match your body to. A figure doing the move will move down one of four colored rows, and when the figure reaches the bottom of the row, you basically need to perform the move correctly for about 5 seconds before the next move comes. You’ll know you’re doing the move correctly if your Kinect avatar (standing off to the side) is doing the move.

To make things a little more challenging, you also need to move your body left and right to be in the correct rowto perform the move. You do need at least 7 feet of space to move left and right–I found myself constantly running out of room.

The “mini dance moves” are real dance moves which are fitting for the song. For example, during Gloria Gaynor’s “I will Survive”, you get to do some pretty funky disco moves. And during Kool and the Gang’s Celebration, you can perform some pretty funky moves too.

By the way, sorry for the awful speed problems on the video–my screen capture tool from Roxio works horribly. I’m going to keep trying to fix it for future reviews–until then, bear with it and enjoy the somewhat comical effects!

I found the motion detection to be “hit or miss”. When it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t it gets aggravating.

The game is not all bad. The game reminded me a lot of Guitar Hero, but instead of hitting a correct note on a plastic guitar, you’re performing a dance step. It’s not a bad game for playing in a group, it’s a lot more “precise” than the fast moving steps of “real dance” games like Dance Central and Zumba Fitness, and you do get a decent workout jumping from row to row and performing dance step after dance step, especially on higher difficulty levels. Also, it’s not a bad game to play with others.

I like how you can watch the original performer’s video play in the background (you can also watch the videos by themselves). Also, the song selection is excellent. There’s something for everyone, including those who hearken back to the days of “Hammertime”. Again, the audio and video here is screwed up, so enjoy the sight of Hammer jumping up and down frenetically in the background.

On the negative side, you never seem to get to play the full song–the song will fade out and end before it should. And where I have the biggest problems with the game is just that it seems a little passĂ©. Dance games like Just Dance and Dance Central pushed the bar forward as far as simulating real dancing, and this old game of pattern matching seems just a little past its time.

Overall, I’d say if you don’t have Dance Central, get that before you get this one. Neither this game (nor Dance Masters by Konami, which I’ll be reviewing soon) comes close. Ubisoft will be coming out with Just Dance 3 for Kinect in October, which just may give Dance Central a run for its money (not resting on its laurels, Microsoft will be releasing Dance Central 2 around the same time). Until then, I’d either skip this one or wait until it drops to under $20.