Dance Central

I can’t dance. Oh, I can keep a beat and I can move well. If choreographed, I can pull off everything but the athletic stuff. My problem is a lack of confidence coupled with an inability to remember current dance moves. If I’m at a wedding (or presumably, a club) I cannot do anything but flail around biting my upper lip. Since I’ve learned so much from gaming, I wondered if there could be a game solution. There was Dance Dance Revolution, and it was great, but it’s footwork and has nothing to do with arms, so it’s not actually dancing. The Wii maybe? Better, but still limited. The Kinect and Dance Central changes everything.

The main criticism of Guitar Hero and Rock Band is that they don’t simulate playing music. That’s true and it’s always been an unimaginative criticism because it’s false. GH and RB aren’t trying to simulate playing music. They simulate what playing music can feel like. The stage, the music, the complexity – but none of the creativity, spontinately and virtuosoity. RB and GH are games. Hit the colored buttons in time with the song.

Dance Central works in a similar way (it’s not surprising that Dance Central comes from Harmonix, creator of both the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises) except instead of colored buttons, it’s poses. The game shows you the next move, then you’ve got to do it as seamlessly as you can and keep the beat while doing it. The affect is that you’re learning choreography. We haven’t gotten there yet but it’s easy to imagine doing these routines with the game turned off. So the game actually does teach dance, or at least it teaches a jigsaw puzzle of moves you can use out on the dance floor.

The game is an instant hit with me and my wife – my wife is an awesome dancer btw., she’s just saddled with a husband who doesn’t take her dancing – and Maggie has taken to it as well. Henry isn’t quite old enough to scoff and call it “girl stuff,” but he’s not as excited as the rest of us.

The bottom line is, if you like to dance or want to learn – If you have an Xbox360 and you don’t mind getting a Kinect ($149) and then laying out $59 for the game – well, it is totally worth it. If you can afford it, if not, by all means wait. Dance Central is fantastic.

Whether it turns me – and my kids – into better dancers remains to be seen.

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