2012-10-24

Dance Central 3 – The Joy Of Worship In Dance

by Yo Snyder

Dance Central is still one of the best reasons to own a Kinect. There really aren’t many surprises in Dance Central 3,
except maybe the fact that this formula still works so well and remains
so enjoyable. That, and the fact that if this series can figure out how
to get Kinect to accurately and precisely measure movements, why
haven’t other games figured out how to do that? No, even here Kinect’s
not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good and helps make things really fun.
It pushes you to actually do the moves; there isn’t a lot of room to
cheat here unlike that other just dancing series. However, along side
some of the occasional Kinect issues, some of the same problems that
have been with this series from the beginning continue to plague it,
even as it improves in others.

The biggest new addition to Dance Central 3
is an all-new story mode. You join Dance Central Intelligence and help
them stop dance crimes (you read that right). There’s some evil villain
out there who wants to stop the party, permanently, and so you have to
travel through time, learn various dance crazes from the 70s, 80s, 90s,
and Aughties (the 00s) in order to prevent that from happening and keep
the party going (again, you read all of that right). Yes, the story is
silly and ridiculous, but it knows it’s silly and ridiculous,
which gives it a certain amount of charm. Plus, it’s a fun way to get a
good sampling of the dances from various eras that DC3 offers. 

If,
however, you aren’t interested in a totally silly, time-traveling
dancing story, you can also quickly just jump right in and start
dancing. The song are organized by difficulty, and they give you a nice
little preview of the moves you’ll be performing. You can play solo or
with a friend, and there’s even the new “crew battle” which basically
mixes the co-op play of DC2 with the the way DC1 had players taking
turns doing the same dance, but it’s a fun way to get more than just two
people playing. And for all you health-conscious dancers, there’s even a
fitness mode where you can really work up a sweat. Navigating through
all these options and the extensive play list is as easy as waving your
hand or just speaking a few voice commands. It’s all just as slick and
user friendly as ever. And, like DC2, you can also import songs from the
previous games if you’ve played them, which is always a nice option.

Now,
at first I was pretty excited about this edition as it does highlight
some of the dance crazes of past decades. Doing “The Hustle” and dancing
to “YMCA” is a blast, but some familiar problems soon arose. As fun as
doing all these dances are, once again, this isn’t a game that I never
really felt comfortable letting my kids playing without some close
parental supervision. There are several songs with lyrics I don’t want
them hearing and wondering what they mean, there are plenty of moves
that are rather suggestive and really not what I want my young girls
imitating, and scrolling through songs reveals some album covers that I have
no business looking at, let alone my kids. It’s tough, because my kids
really enjoy Dance Central, and I enjoy playing it with them, but
there’s often a very limited number of songs we can enjoy together as a
family. I was hoping that Dance Central 3 would have a greater
selection of songs for us to do together, what with it’s highlighting
some oldie dance crazes, but that’s not really the case. It’d be nice to
have some things like “The Twist” and other such crazes added through
DLC.

As with the previous editions, despite these content concerns, I had a lot of fun with Dance Central 3.
Of all the dance games I’ve played, this one that really makes me feel
like I’m actually learning legit dance moves, and if they get too
complicated for me, the game helpfully breaks them down step-by-step for
me until I get it. (A nice addition this time around is being able to
practice certain steps in a song instead of having to go through the
whole song, I like that a lot). You know, between this series, Dance Dance Revolution, Just Dance
and all its various spin-offs and the rest of the dancing games out
there, it seems very apparent that people like to dance.  That really
shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; I think we were made to dance. In
fact, the Bible talks about dancing quite a bit in its relation to
worship. Dancing is a fun, joyful experience that stirs the soul, and
that’s directly connected to the fact that our souls were made to
worship. What’s more, I think even God likes dancing. Zephaniah 3:17
talks about how God rejoices over us with singing; which is such an
exuberant description of joy and music that I’m thinking there’s a
little dancing involved there too. After all, with great, joyous music, a
little toe-tapping is inevitable. However, I don’t think it involves
any of the “booty” dancing that, for some reason, is so often featured
in this game. Like so many things, that’s just us taking something
wonderful that God created for us to enjoy and making it much less than
it was intended to be. Pity.

Like many series in this genre, Dance
Central has settled into a comfortable groove where one knows exactly
what to expect from that. Dance Central 3 holds very few
surprises, but remains just as enjoyable and is still an excellent
demonstration of proper Kinect usage; the question is how much further
can this formula be stretched? Dance Central 4 will probably need
a bit more than just a goofy storyline to follow to help keep the
series fresh, but for now, it’s still a fun party, just not one that the
whole family may feel comfortable coming to. 

Score: 5 of 7 – Dance Central 3
is still fun, and still a great use of Kinect. New additions such as
dance crazes through the decades, a silly story line, and a few new
modes and extras are all nice, but don’t radically change things. The
biggest concern is some of the suggestive content – dance moves, lyrics,
album covers – that make it hard to recommend as a family game without there being some good parental screening.