The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Rhythm Party

Captures the spirit of the original DDR

Konami has gone “back to basics” with this Xbox Marketplace downloadable game and has produced a fun, simple, and effective-as-a-workout dance game that goes back to its roots of pattern matching vs. real dance steps.

Rating by steve: 4.0 stars

Continuing our review of Xbox Marketplace games that make for great (and cheap) workouts, I’ve decided to review Rhythm Party by Konami. As with other Xbox Marketplace game downloads this one is not available in any store, but is downloadable from your console or your PC online to be downloaded to your console later (As with all Xbox downloadable games, my recommendation is to purchase an Xbox Points card from a retailer like Amazon first and then enter your code in the Marketplace to build up a pool of Xbox Points you can purchase from).

In the early days of the Kinect we saw some rather awful dance titles such as Dancemasters by Konami and Dance Paradise by THQ. Then, of course, Dance Central came around and changed our whole concept of what a dancing game should be. The problem with those early games was that they were just too bloated. Overly stylized avatars, over elaborate graphics, unclear user interfaces, and horrifically sluggish Kinect responsiveness.

I’m actually impressed that Konami has released its next dance game not as another $60 title, but rather as a 800 Microsoft Points download (a little under $10). Their strategy seems to be to offer the game at a lower price, and then hope to make money on song add-on packs. The game itself comes with 10 songs, combining both pop hits and the Japanese-pop genre Konami helped made popular. At first it may be off-putting to see so few songs, but it takes you a while to get through each level, so for $10 I’d say it’s worth it. Songs include:

  • Still Unbreakable – Dest Row feat Vanilla Ice
  • Say a Prayer – Dest Row feat. Maxi Priest
  • Every Little Step – Bobby Brown
  • A Midnight Rendezvous – Shanice
  • Be Free – Dest Row feat Vanilla Ice
  • Y.M.C.A – The Village People
  • Born This Way – Lady Gaga
  • Summer Fairytale – Design MAD crew
  • HEARTBREAK (Sound Selektaz remix) NAOKI feat. Becca Hossany
  • All Thru The Night – jun feat. Lisa Lisa

The game is delightfully simple, much in the same way that Konami’s original dance game Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) was simple. As with DDR, your goal is to hit on-screen cues to the beat. The difference is, instead of using your feet on a dance pad you’re using your hands and feet on the screen. Bubbles on the screen will appear to the beat and your goal is to make sure you have a hand or a foot covering the bubble at the right moment. Do so and you get credited with a good score–fail to do so and you’ll get a “boo!” You’ll get bonus points for doing freestyle “tricks” like moving your feet, spinning around, etc.

As you progress up to harder levels, the bubbles pop up faster, and in some cases you need to hold your hands and feet for a couple seconds (when you see the pink outlined bubbles), or you need to swipe your hands in a certain direction after touching the bubble (as indicated by a blue arrow). The result is nothing like real dancing, but it can be a hoot and a holler if you’re playing in a group to see the replay videos.

The graphics are extremely simple. Your avatar is just your own body–you can view yourself actually on the screen, or if you’re bashful like me you can choose to have your body silhouetted in a solid color (and as we’ve established several times by now if you’re extra bashful you can dress up in a ninja outfit).

The silhouette may be a little choppy depending on your lighting situation but it’s effective overall.

What I love about this is that the movement is truly real-time and you don’t get that awful sluggishness that’s so common the the Kinect when they design overly stylized avatars. I also like that the feedback is precise–unlike with games like Dance Central or Just Dance there’s no doubt as to whether you deserve a point or not.

The artist’s original video, if available, will play in the background.

You’ll see a video of your entire performance afterwards which you can replay. Granted, the dance moves you end up doing are not exactly ones that’ll tear up the dance floor. On the other hand, moving your hands and feet around are a great way to build up some good aerobic exercise.

One very cool twist is depending on what you choose for your silhouetted body type, as you hit dance steps correctly you’ll start seeing virtual reality items appear on your avatar. In one song I slowly got fitted with a robot outfit. In the performance of “Born This Way” below notice how the avatar suddenly outfitted with a suit of…well, heaven knows what it is…some kind of Lady Gaga-inspired giant electrical spider octopus outfit?

In other song, I literally turned into a robot, which was pretty cool.

Overall, I’d say Rhythm Party goes a great job of getting Konami “back to basics”. With superior dance games like Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2, it’s probably not going to be the most popular party game. On the other hand, it is an excellent game to work out to, whether by yourself or with a friend. Assuming you have the Microsoft points, it’s infinitely expandable with new songs and the addition of a full-session video is great if you and a friend want to just ham it up to see how many bonus points you can collect. In a lot of ways it reminds of me the game “Eyetoy Kinectic” that was available for the Playstation 2 and Playstation 3 that was one of the most effective exergames I saw anywhere. For under $10, I’d say this is definitely worth having in your collection of Kinect Fitness games.