Dance Central 3 Review: All The Right Moves

The library for good Kinect titles is not a well that runs very deep. Luckily, Harmonix has a good grip on how to work with the Kinect, and more importantly, how to make games that are fun. I recently got down with my bad self and (embarrassingly) danced the night away with Harmonix’s latest game, Dance Central 3.

Before stepping into most dancing games, potential customers will want to look at the song list to see what is recognizable and who in their family could enjoy the game. This brings us to one of Dance Central 3‘s biggest changes from its two predecessors; instead of having the overwhelming majority of the songs being from the 2000’s to current music, the song list gets a nice dose of variety, with multiple songs throughout each decade dating back to the groovy disco of the 1970’s. Each of these songs are choreographed greatly, and while they may seem difficult at first, once you get into the rhythm and see the moves a few times, you will be mirroring the in-game dancers without a problem.

Kinect’s tracking during these performances may seem a little wonky, but once you play through a few songs, your body adapts and you learn what positions you should be taking for certain moves. There is a surprising amount of variety when it comes to the dance moves. Throughout the entire story mode, I only noticed moves repeat in different songs maybe two or three times, and that is spread across roughly 30 songs. While Dance Central 3 has some of the best tracking in a Kinect game to date, there are still a few minor hiccups that are expected from the hardware. During one song, it seemed that Kinect just stopped tracking my left arm, and while it didn’t affect my overall star rating too greatly, I could see these occasional mishaps become frustrating for completionists.

Harmonix didn’t just want to throw in some oldies and let you have at them, though. They wanted to give an explanation. What might that explanation be? Time travel. Dance Central 3 supports a full story mode that has you recruited as an agent for the Dance Central Intelligence. As an agent, you are sent back in time to find out the crazes of the period so you can use them to stop the evil Dr. Tan who has been committing terrible dance crimes. If this story sounds silly, that’s because it is, and the game embraces that. The characters are very self aware, and some of their lines were making me chuckle.

I was not expecting to dance to a Vanilla Ice song at a 90’s house party, but it was one of my favorite moments in the game.

As you’re jumping through time, you will find yourself in a wide variety of places to dance. All of these venues (going along well with the cartoon-y style) are exaggerated and stylish. My favorite venue was probably the 70’s roller disco club, complete with bright flashing lights, big hair, and shirts that could have used a few more buttons. The songs you come across in each era compliment that time period very well, making the playlists fun to go through again and again.

Outside of the story mode, there are many other ways to spend your time. Right from the title screen, the option for party mode is available, which is a perfect setting for four or more people. It cues up an infinite playlist of shuffled songs that you can either roll right through, or be picky and skip over songs you may not want to dance to.  There’s also a challenge mode where you can attempt to beat different challenges set by Harmonix. Alternatively, you can challenge your friends online with scores for them to beat.

Apart from party mode, there are more ways to play multiplayer than there were in the past games. Head-to-Head pits you against one friend as you battle it out to see who’s the better dancer, while Crew vs. Crew has two teams from 2-4 rotating single players to duke it out, trying to help your team prevail over the other. Another new edition to the series comes in the form of a Beginner mode, which is for those who haven’t played a dancing game before. It is a great option for younger or older family members who may not have to ability to keep up with the sometimes intense choreography.

With a wide variety in song range, different difficulties for more experienced dancers, and hours upon hours of fun to be had within the different modes, Dance Central 3‘s value far exceeds it’s price tag, and does so all while providing new content to separate it from its predecessors. This game is a must have for any Kinect owner.