E3 2010 Hands-On: Dance Central From the moment you step in front of Dance Central to the moment you take your first steps, any intimidation or fear or even two left feet get washed away.  Harmonix – makers of Rock Band (don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it) – are releasing a Microsoft Kinect launch title that will literally help you take your first steps into the world of dance.

Seeing this title in action during the Microsoft Press Conference, Dance Central was easily the Kinect title that would drive the Kinect forward.  Stepping up to the screen and using Kinect was a relatively simple process and the Dance Central interface is simple and intuitive.  I think Harmonix did a superior job in making it easy enough for anyone to step up and quickly get into the game.

So You Think You Can’t Dance?

For those in the know, getting in and performing is a breeze.  I want to focus on the newbie who steps on his date’s feet and probably still does ‘The Carlton’*.  Once you have chosen your song, you have the choice to either perform or Break It Down.  Breaking down a song takes each individual dance move and walks you through it (no pun intended).  The game is encouraging as it tracks how you are doing in each move, slowly going through the steps at first and gradually increasing in speed as you complete each one.  This builds into a crescendo of putting the entire strings of moves together into the song’s full set of moves.  

There is more than just voice feedback from the game.  Individual pieces of you that are out of sync will be highlighted on your dancer in a red outline.  I didn’t notice it until experiencing it for myself.  I was hitting the step with my feet but not my arms.  On the dancer on-screen, he arms were highlighted in red to bring attention to it.  I corrected and continued.

Once you have broken down a song and feel like you’re ready to take on the big time, it’s time to perform.  I had a little difficulty at first as, of course, my mind completely went blank on the moves I learned – not to mention the professional dancers they had on hand who were doing it perfectly.  I soon found the flow and picked it back up. Our score began to improve.  Then, there were no moves and it was time for a “free dance.”  After you’re done free dancing, the Kinect plays it back to you.  (half-hearted yay).  With the embarrassment behind us, we finished the song with five stars and I stepped off the stage.  I had worked up a sweat.  

Dance Central will sell Microsoft Kinects.  It’s that simple.  The game play is fantastic, the song set looks solid and you feel constantly feel rewarded.  Best of all, you can totally force your friends and family to get up and get involved.  Laughter will definitely ensue.  Dance Central is shaping up nicely and I can’t wait to see more.  


* - "The Carlton" referring to the dance of Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.