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Dance Paradise Review

Reviews - Xbox 360

Written by Jayce Diaz
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It's been a few short months since Kinect launched on US shores in November. In that time, we've seen no less than 3 dance games released for the device (All starting with the word "Dance"), with 2-3 more currently in development. It's no argument that launch title Dance Central is the undisputed king of the motion-based rhythm genre, with phenomenal sales and continued support via DLC.

Along comes Dance Paradise from Smack Down Productions, which attempts to shake up the dance floor by using a "Lane" mechanic similar to Rock Band and Guitar Hero. The end result is a mostly entertaining dance title that misses the beat just a little too much.

Developer: Smack Down Productions
Publisher: THQ
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (Kinect)
Release Date: February 15th, 2011
MSRP: $49.99

A few things should be noted with this game; it is NOT a dance simulator. This game is not Dance Central, and it doesn't try to be. Harmonix opted for choreographed dance routines and specifically timed steps; With Dance Paradise, Smack Down Productions chose a more approachable method which has players repeating a series of random dance steps that more or less fit the genre. Kinect is a lot less demanding of the user in this game; while this can make it feel less authentic than its competitors, it does allow for a younger, or less rhythmic audience to enjoy it a bit more.

However, this system is not without its flaws. Dance moves will stream on four different lanes (think the note highway in Guitar Hero), which you'll have to line yourself up with and perform once the move takes center stage. While the animated dance notes give you enough time to memorize them before you have to perform them out, it's the act of correctly lining yourself up that can cause a few headaches. Moving too little or too much to the left or right can completely throw you off the correct lane, and there is almost no time provided for switching in the first place. The game is on Easy mode by default, and to be honest, switching to harder modes would be suicide.

On top of this, the motion sensing is a bit too spotty. Halfway into a song, the game completely lost track of me, and nothing could get it to find me again. The game didn't even bother to pause the music; it just imposed a large graphic displaying a very confused sensor bar.

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Two-player mode splits the four lanes (two-per-person) with mixed results. The game seems to have just as hard of a time keeping track, though the experience is typicallly more fun than it is bothersome. When the game is going smoothly, players will be too busy laughing from the sometimes ridiculous dance moves the game would have you pull off. If you've ever wanted to pull off sick air guitar moves complete with leg kicks, then Dance Paradise is right up your alley.

The game boasts an impressive track list of over 40 licensed songs ranging from dance to rock, complete with their official music videos. This is the largest track list of any available dance game on Kinect. The music video aspect, while seemingly cool, is not without its flaws. Take for example the song, "Dance, Dance" by the... er... band Fallout Boy. In the middle of the video, the song is interrupted by some interlude of some kind where band members, who are apparently attending a homecoming dance, get raided by a teacher or something. Players are unfortunately still required to dance without music, while these interludes take place. Also, the songs generally fade out before they actually end. You don't even get to dance the full song.

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Perhaps with some more focus and development, Dance Paradise could have taken a significant place at the side of Dance Central's throne. When it gets going, Dance Paradise is actually pretty fun, so long as you don't take your motion dancing skills too seriously. The set list is pretty diverse with all the Lady Gaga and Rihanna you'd expect, along with a few nice surprises you might not have seen coming. The single player modes don't really hold any weight to keep you interested, while the multiplayer modes are actually fun, provided you have no alternative dancing titles. At a current MSRP of $49.99, though, I would advise interested parties to either rent this game first, or look somewhere else entirely.

Overall Score:

55 Out Of 100

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