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Video Game of the Week – Dance Central

With Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor system for the Xbox 360 making its debut last week, there has been a flurry of activity from game publishers. Approximately sixteen Kinect games have already been released, and about 30 more have been announced and are in the works.

However, if you are looking for a game that perfectly showcases the amazing versatility of the Kinect – and is a whole lot of fun for everyone in the family – you need look no further than Dance Central from Harmonix.

The concept behind Dance Central will be very familiar to anyone who has ever played games on the Wii. You see someone on the screen demonstrating dance moves and you try to imitate the moves as best you can. But that hardly does Dance Central and the Kinect justice.

With the Kinect, your whole body is the controller, so the game is able to perfectly map your movements and match them to what’s happening on the screen. The result is an incredibly entertaining and addictive game in which you are tutored and evaluated literally every step of the way.

The real beauty of Dance Central is that it happily welcomes all-comers, whether you are a regular Saturday night clubber or you were born with two left feet. Every one of the 32 songs can be tackled in Easy, Medium or Hard mode. In fact, you won’t get to medium and hard until you prove yourself first on the easier levels. To master a routine, you can dive right in and pick it up as you go, or you can practice over and over in Break It Down mode.

Help comes not just from the wide range of cool-looking dancers but also from the flash cards lined up on the screen so you know what’s coming next. Each time you perform a whole routine, you are given a total points score and rated on a 5-star scale. The more points you get, the more challenges and additional venues you unlock.

During each routine, you are given a freeform period during which you can let your inner disco-queen fly. What you don’t realize until it’s too late is that the Kinect is taking pictures, which it will happily play back to you as the freeform session ends!

The solid music selection is supplemented by great visuals and sound effects. The “instructor” will reward you when you nail a move and offer words of encouragement – laced with a little humor – when you fail. If you want a little company on the dance floor, you can face off against family and friends one-on-one in Dance Battle mode.

If you love to get up and dance, this is the perfect game. If not, then this is the one game that might make you change your mind!

Dance Central is rated “T” for Teen (lyrics, suggestive themes) by the ESRB. Check out the ESRB video game ratings and content descriptors at ESRB.org

Publisher: Harmonix/MTV Games
Platform: Kinect for the Xbox 360
Genre: Rhythm, dance
RRP: $49.99
Release Date: November 4, 2010
ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen

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