Let’s Dance for Kinect
Won’t dethrone the leaders anytime soon, but still a solid dance game with some nice innovations
Let’s Dance is a dance game developed by Lightning Fish games which is innovative in its use of your real video image instead of a cartoon avatar. While the game is not without its faults, and is certainly not going to de-throne Dance Central for accuracy nor Just Dance 3 for fun anytime soon, at only $20 retail, it’s worth trying out for the unique things it does bring to the table.
The first question to ask about Let’s Dance for Kinect is–with Dance Central 2 being the best “technical dance instruction” game out there and Just Dance 3 being the best “dance party game” out there, is there really room for a third dance game? Maximum Games seems to think so.
I admit, I had very low expectations for this game. First, a $20 price point at launch usually means the kiss of death for a game; after years of buying Wii shovelware I look very suspiciously on games that are priced this low. But then I noticed the developer was Lightning Fish games based out of the UK. They’ve developed games such as NewU Fitness First (an excellent workout game for the Wii which unfortunately was marketed very poorly by Ubisoft here in the US), Get Fit with Mel B (an excellent workout game for the PS3), and the upcoming Adidas MiCoach. So, I figured I’d keep an open mind.
When you start out the game you’re greeted by Mel B (better known to some of us as Scary Spice), who’ll be your host throughout the game. It’s the real her, not a cartoon recreation of her. Be forewarned that she does get annoying chatty through the game–every time you choose a menu option she’ll make the same comments over and over again. I wish there was a Mute Scary Spice setting, but unfortunately there’s not.
She’ll start asking you how many dancers you have. You can choose 1, 2, or 3-8. Then you choose “Normal” mode where you can play one song at a time, or “Survival” mode, where you keep playing song after song until you get too tired you can’t go any longer (the system will decide by keeping track of your performance level for you).
You can have Mel choose a song for you, or you can choose one yourself. You can choose to dance to the entire song or to a short version of about 2-3 minutes.
The track list was surprisingly strong, especially for a $20 game. The songs include the following (difficulty level is listed after each song). As with many other Kinect games, navigating the interface can get annoying, but it’s passable.
- Maroon 5- This Love – 1 of 5
- Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive – 2 of 5
- Pixie Lott – Boys and Girls – 2 of 5
- Rose Royce – Carwas) – 3 of 5
- Chumbawamba – Tubthumping – 4 of 5
- Pixie Lott – Mama Do – 1 of 5
- The Spice Girls – Wannabe – 2 of 5
- Mika – Love Today – 2 of 5
- Just Jack – Starz in their Eyes – 3 of 5
- Fergie – Quando Quando Quando – 3 of 5
- Holly Valance – Kiss Kiss – 3 of 5
- Lady Gaga – Poker Face – 5 of 5
- CeCe Peniston – Finally – 1 of 5
- Yolanda Be Cool and DCup – We No Speak Americano – 1 of 5
- Sarah Vaughan – Peter Gunn Remix – 2 of 5
- Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank – 3 of 5
- Kelly Rowland feat. Davig Guetta – Commander – 5 of 5
- Mousse T. and Suzie – All Nite Long (D.I.S.C.O.) – 5 of 5
- OMD – Enola Gay – 1 of 5
- Culture Club – Karma Chameleon – 2 of 5
- Cameo – Word Up! – 3 of 5
- Spandau Ballet – Gold – 3 of 5
- Pauling Rubino – Y Yo Sigo Aqui – 2 of 5
- Noelia – Candela – 2 of 5
- 50 Cent – In Da Club – 2 of 5
- A.R. Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls feat. Nicole Scherzinger – Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) – 4 of 5
- Pussycat Dolls – Don’t Cha – 4 of 5
- Rihanna – Disturbia – 4 of 5
After you choose a song, the first thing you’re asked to do is to take a picture of your face and input your name, which will be used to identify you throughout the game.
Then, you see the image of a dance floor with four dancers, and you as the fifth dancer. One thing I really liked about Let’s Dance, that neither Dance Central nor Just Dance have, is that it uses your actual video image, not a silhouetted image nor a cartoon avatar (this is something I loved about Kung Fu High Impact as well). So you’ll literally be dancing along with four other dancers, also videos of real humans, as if you’re in a girl band (I gave myself the name Chubby Spice).
The song will start and the dancers will all start dancing (you have to follow the lead dancer standing in front). As with all the other dancing games your goal is to mirror her moves exactly. The choreography is not bad at all, it’s along the lines of what you’ll see on music videos of boy bands and girl bands where five dancers are dancing together.
As with the other dancing games, there are also icons that represent different moves. The icons don’t really help you at first, but as you play each song a few times you’ll learn what series of moves goes with which icon. The more accurately you perform each series of moves, the higher your score will be for that portion of the song.
By the way, that’s me and Lisa dancing away in our ninja outfits. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I always adorn myself in a ninja outfit when making Kinect videos because I’m kind of bashful and have no intention of becoming the next “Wii Fit Girl”. For one thing I’m a boy, and for another thing I don’t look as good as Wii Fit Girl in my skivvies (although I’m working on it).
I did like that there’s a timer on the bottom of each song telling you how much you’ve played and how much there is left to go–something that for some reason is missing from Dance Central and Just Dance.
One thing I wasn’t crazy about at first was that there was just too much going on. There are lights flashing and constantly moving animations and general confusion in the background that at the beginning really distracted me from following the dancer’s moves.
But I have to admit, once I got used to that it was very, very cool to see my own image on screen dancing along with the four other dancers, without the feeling of disconnectedness of Just Dance nor the lag of Dance Central. During the few times I matched the on-screen dancers’ motions perfectly it was really a fun feeling, probably the closest I’ll ever come to dancing with a girl band (let’s hope anyway).
The one question I always try to find out when playing these dance games is–how good is the motion detection. The way I test it out is, I’ll choose a song and try my hardest to match the moves. Then, I’ll play the song again and just do jumping jacks through the whole song.
Here’s me on “I Will Survive” trying my hardest:
And here I am doing jumping jacks
I got a score of 19127 (a B) doing the real moves and 10071 (an F) doing the jumping jacks. So it’s safe to say the motion control accuracy and scoring are pretty good.
I wish the game had the ability to let you take and share videos, but you can’t (oddly, the Amazon product description claims you can, but I don’t see anywhere in the game with that option). The only thing it does is take three “snapshots” through the game, and Mel B will comment on how well you matched the other dancers during those three moments.
It would also have been nice to have the ability to play online, but perhaps the bandwidth needs of transmitting a real video image between two Xboxes would be too much.
Of course, the obvious question is–how does this compare with Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2? I’d say that Just Dance is still the king for “fun”, and Dance Central is still the king of “authentic and accurate dance moves”. But Let’s Dance is a game that’s much, much more original, responsive, and fun than I was expecting, with a great track list, decent motion controls, and presentation that’s closer to “virtual reality” than any title before it. At only $20, I’d say it’s worth trying out.