Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Harmonix/Backbone Entertainment
If you’re a Kinect owner but have yet to lay hands on a copy of Dance Central or Dance Central 2, you’re really doing yourself a disservice as an owner of that particular accessory. However, if you’ve held out until now for whatever reason, Dance Central 3 looks to offer up a pretty comprehensive take on this dance rhythm party game from the developers over at Harmonix, and offers up more reasons to get a group of likeminded friends together and have some fun.
The original Dance Central was pretty much THE reason to pick up a Kinect when the accessory launched a few years back. And Harmonix (with the help of Backbone Entertainment) has continued to build upon the success of the game with each iteration, so you’ll find that Dance Central 3 might not break the mold that the series has created, but certainly builds upon it just enough to warrant making another dip into the franchise. The core gameplay is still pretty much the same; you’ll get an eclectic mix of musical tracks, covering hits from the 70’s up until today, which makes use of a number of popular dance crazes from their respective decades, including flash in the pan hits like “Macarena” and more.
You’ll choose a digital avatar, culled from a number of returning characters plus two new ones, and follow along with on screen flash cards that’ll show you the moves, as you try to imitate the motion of your avatar on screen. This often leads to some pretty goofy representations of the actual steps, but you’ll hardly find time to care about how suave you look as the game continues to suck you into its unique brand of fun. It offers up a bit of a challenge on higher difficulties, requiring more variety from the player and being a bit more stringent on limb placement and motion, but Dance Central 3 is all about accessibility, allowing anyone of all ages to jump in and have some fun.
While the basic structure remains largely unchanged here, there are a handful of additions worth mentioning. For one, there’s a full on story mode, featuring time traveling heroes represented by characters from the previous games, which cement themselves in different decades and attempt to master the dances of those periods. You’re headed up by the DCI, an intelligence agency which serves the purpose of introducing two new characters to the cast. The story side is light hearted, fun, and downright goofy, but I appreciate a mode that feels like it gives players an overall goal to achieve. If you prefer, you can still just jump in, play any song you like, learn the moves, or create your own set lists, but I definitely thought that the story mode was worth checking out.
While Dance Central 2 introduced full on two player support that allowed both players to dance at once, Dance Central 3 ups the ante a bit by introducing a Crew Throwdown mode. This mode allows for up to eight players to participate, two at a time, and gives teams the option of switching out new players on the fly. It’s a great way to get more people involved for parties and other events, and opens up Dance Central 3 in a way that the first two games just couldn’t pull off.
Finally, and probably the best addition to the series so far, is the Make Your Move mode. This is essentially HORSE in Dance Central, giving players the chance to create their own set of moves, and then have other players step up and to try to imitate the motions. I was a bit skeptical on how well the game would record and know the moves created by the originating player, but to the credit of both Dance Central 3 and the Kinect, it never seems to miss a beat. Make Your Move is easily the most fun you’ll end up having with the game, and once you get a group of friends together, it’s definitely the mode you’ll want to jump into first.
Outside of a handful of new modes, and some more multiplayer support, you won’t find much else that has changed about the core Dance Central experience. And for the most part this is a good thing, as the series has certainly been headed in the right direction since its inception, and remains the Kinect and dance rhythm game to beat. I do think that series fatigue is starting to set in a bit, as I wasn’t nearly as willing to spend as much time with DC3 as was with the previous titles, but if you’re new to the series I have no doubt you’ll have a blast with what Dance Central 3 has to offer.
I do hope that if a Dance Central 4 is produced, we see even further changes and additions than Dance Central 3 has to offer, but as a party game, and a fun Kinect experience, Dance Central 3 really manages to knock it out of the park. While there may seem to be less and less reason to break out the Kinect this late in the console generation, Dance Central 3 makes a strong argument for dusting off the device once again, and acting like a fool in front of your TV.