Platform: Xbox 360
Co-Op: 2 Players
In-game Dolby Digital
With the release of the Kinect there has been an onslaught of dancing games and even more coming in the future. Dance Paradise is the latest dance genre game to be released and had me wondering how it stacks up against its competitors. As Gwen Stefani sings, “What You Waiting For?” – Let’s get our dancing shoes on and find out.
Dance Paradise takes place on a tropical island, which sets up a great dance experience on the beach, clubs and the dance floor at one of the restaurants. The dance floor designs are simplistic, which is to be expected considering they work in tandem with your Xbox Avatar that acts as your digital representation on the dance floor.
Having your Avatar represent you is a nice touch as it adds a level of customization to the game that will attract gamers who like to have that experience. Dance Paradise also has some avatar awards that can be won through gameplay to add some more customization to your Avatar. The Avatar you create at the Xbox Dashboard translates identically over to the game; so what you set up in the dashboard is exactly what you will see in-game. In the background while you dance there are other avatars dancing as well, livening up the dance scene.
Built into each dance area is a large television displaying the video of the song you’re dancing to and it looks pretty sharp, especially when playing in high definition. The television has been placed well so that it doesn’t distract from the gameplay silhouettes depicting the dance moves you perform.
The gameplay silhouettes remind me of giant erasers with arms, legs and heads. They are chunky and difficult to mimic at times because of their design and with everything else in the game being of Avatar design, they are obviously out of place. Understandably they may not have been able to use Avatars to display the dance moves easily, but something a bit more functional in this department is required.
Any great music genre game needs to have an amazing track list to get gamers into the game; however, with a dance genre game not only does the music have to get you into the game it also has to get you up off the couch and into a dance groove. The music selection does just that and has songs that aren’t just recent hits, but also some great dance songs that a few parents might recognize, like Kool & the Gang – Celebration and MC Hammer – Can’t Touch This. Some of my personal favourites include Fallout Boy – Dance Dance, Daft Punk – Around the World and Nelly – Hot in Herre. For a full track list, read on below to spot some songs that you want to dance along to.
50 Cent – In Da Club
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Akon – Bananza (Belly Dancer)
Lady Gaga – Poker Face
Atomic Kitten – Ladies Night
La Roux – Bulletproof
Brick & Lace – Love is wicked
Lil Wayne ft. Static – Lollipop
Caesars – Jerk It Out
MC Hammer – Can’t Touch This
Cassius – The Sound of Violence
Mika – Lollipop
Cassius – Toop Toop
Mika – We are Golden
Daft Punk – Around the World
Nelly – Hot in Herre
David Guetta ft Kelly Rowland – When Love Takes Over
No Doubt – Hey Baby
Debi Nova – Drummer Boy
Orianthi – According to You
Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
Pixie Lott – Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)
Fall Out Boy – Dance Dance
Rihanna – Disturbia
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax (2009 Lockout Remix)
Shaggy and Brian & Tony Gold – Hey Sexy Lady
Geri Halliwell – It’s Raining Men
Snoop Dogg ft Pharrell – Beautiful
Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Murder on the Dancefloor
Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
Starsailor – Four to the Floor (Remix)
Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?
Supergrass – Alright
Kenna – Say Goodbye to Love
Taio Cruz & Ludcaris – Break Your Heart
Kevin Rudolf ft Lil Wayne – Let it Rock
The Pussycat Dolls – When I Grow Up
Kool & the Gang – Celebration
Yelle – A Cause Des Garçons
The control set up for Dance Paradise reminds me a bit of other music genre games where there are four (or more) different lines on the screen indicating the notes you must hit. In the case of Dance Paradise there are four position indicators, green, yellow, blue and red, that stream down from the top of the screen. When a dance move streams down you must move your body in line with that position and get ready to perform that move and this continues to go back and forth for all the moves you must perform. I thought this aspect of the game was great as it adds a natural element to dancing since you don’t just stand in one spot when you’re dancing — well most of us don’t.
Performing the dance moves for the most part is fairly simple. You mimic the dance move your eraser-like silhouette is performing and when you’ve finished the move you position yourself for the next move, be it moving to a new position to get ready to do another move, or staying where you are, getting ready to do another move from that position. Most of the moves are easy enough to tell what is going on, but once in awhile you get thrown a move that visually does not make sense for your body because of how the graphical representation of the silhouette is created. Perhaps it is my inexperience with dancing, but since this title will probably be played more by novice dancers rather than advanced ones, it is a large oversight.
Overall though, the performance of the dance moves is fairly simple and is often forgiving; if you get the move mostly right you get some great results in your overall score. One thing that is finicky is when you move to one of the outer positions and the Kinect sensor cannot detect you off camera; you can then fail that dance move, which is especially frustrating when you’re linking combos together for a high score.
Each move is graded from a fail to perfect with the better the grade scoring you the most points, and linking together a series of dance moves will increase your score multiplyer. Earning stars towards your Dance Power Gauge happens when a silver silhouette appears on screen and you mimic the dance move successfully. When you get the stars lit up all you have to do is jump in the air to activate the power and your points earned will be doubled for a limited time (depending on many stars you have earned in your Dance Power Gauge).
Single Player modes include Career, Free and Tutorial. In Career you compete through various dance floors where you complete challenges to become the Star of Dance Paradise. The challenges are pretty simple, like completing 12 dance moves performed good or better or launching two Dance Powers throughout the song. Free Mode is linked with Career Mode in the sense that any of the songs you unlock in Career become available to use in Free Mode. There is no gameplay difference except in Free Mode you don’t have to worry about any challenges. Tutorial mode is where you go to practice those difficult moves mentioned previously and learn them at your pace rather than on the fly.
Single player suffers from being tedious and boring as it does become repetitive. Even though there are challenges to complete it doesn’t save it from the fact that this is a party game and is best played with friends and family to get the best experience.
Multi-player does step it up a bit with three different mode types for up to two players locally. The first mode is called Versus and is a dance off between two dancers competing for the highest score. The second co-op mode, Synchro, is the exact opposite of Versus, where competition is thrown out the window and you have to synchronize your dance moves with your partner to earn a top score.
Finally, the last of the co-op modes is called Attack and is a head-to-head battle with up to seven different attacks that you can use against your opponent. Attacks are earned like you would earn stars for Dance Power Gauge, by mimicking the silver silhouettes that appear on the screen, but twice to earn an attack. There are a total of seven different attacks that can be launched at your opponent, just like your Dance Power, by jumping into the air. The seven different attacks available to you are listed below:
Vitality Theft: Steal your opponent’s vitality and absorb it as your own.
Track Jump: Make your opponent's silhouette jump from track to track.
Twinkling: Your opponent's silhouette will twinkle to cause distraction.
Stuck: Stuck will stick your opponent to the dance position he is dancing on.
Hidden: Silhouettes on your opponent's side will become almost invisible.
Freeze: Freeze freezes up your opponent’s avatar preventing any moves at all.
Score Theft: This is a big game changer where 10% of your opponent's score will be taken from him and added to your score.
Multi-player saves the gameplay from being lackluster, but is only available locally and should have been made available to play over Xbox Live to really make the multi-player experience rich. A great feature I should mention is the Vide Box, which allows you to select in-game videos in a playlist to watch and listen to your favourites.
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