Another “Experience” title comes to us, this time it’s about Hip-Hop. For those that haven’t paid attention to anything related to this one, here’s the short summary:

Get the ultimate Hip Hop Dance Experience with this Kinect dance collection that spans the entire history of hip hop! Choose your favorite track from a set list that includes hits from pioneers like Rob Base and RUN-DMC, current chart-toppers like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, and genre giants like Snoop, Lil’ Wayne, and ODB. Perform over 700 moves created by celebrity choreographers Dave Scott and Laurieann Gibson. Soak up that expert knowledge as you master the moves in Power Skooling Mode. Hop on the dance floor anytime, with or without a partner, in Dance Party Mode. Compete with friends in Dance Battle, or let the intelligent shuffle take over and see if you can complete a Dance Marathon.

Overview

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, I suppose it’s a good thing though. There are pros and cons to this one compared to the other Experience titles, which I’ll go into detail below. Thankfully the detection system has been revamped and works very well, but as for everything else, it kind of falls short.

The Menu

This one has you mirror another dance move to start, same as The Black Eyed Peas Experience. Once you start, the menu is at the top. You can use either the Kinect hover and lock method or a controller. There is voice navigation, but it’s only for the song selection. The menu consists of Dance Party, Dance Battle, Dance Marathon, Power Skooling, Wardrobe and Options. As usual, I’ll break each one down.

Dance Party

Dance Party is your jump right in mode. Once in here, choose a song, choose a difficulty and away you go. To choose a song with your voice, just say song and the name of the song. You can also sort songs by title, artist, difficulty and the recently played songs. It works, not sure why the entire menu wasn’t implemented with voice though. Anyhow, there are 3 different difficulties to choose from. The easy mode is Newbie, medium is called Mack and hard is called Go Hard. The developers did take advice from the Dance Central series though and each difficulty has moves from the prior difficulty plus new ones.  I did go ahead and make a video of the same song for each difficulty so you can see the differences in the moves. I didn’t practice this at all, so my dancing isn’t the greatest.

Newbie

Mack

Go Hard

As you can see, moves get less repetitive with each difficulty, but even on Go Hard, it’s still quite a repetitive routine compared to Dance Central’s routines. Also, you’ll notice the new detection system. Finally, someone made something similar to Dance Central’s version. The good thing is that it works, and it works very well. To me, it’s actually is easier to see the red outline since it highlights the whole body part like a hazard sign instead of just around it, so this new detection system was much welcomed.

The moves are rated in order from Busted, Yup, Nice, Cool and Hype. I think there’s some kind of power meter as once it’s filled up, you go into this “The roof is on fire” mode, but I wasn’t paying attention to tell if my score was going higher faster or what not. You’ll also notice the real music videos in the background, which is always a nice touch. Once you complete a song, you are rated with a percentage of how well you did. Also your best move and worst move is pointed out and you get added to the global leaderboards as well. Another little caveat is that it has song suggestions for you so you can just jump right into another song.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is to the Dance Party mode. There’s no order of succession to unlock moves, as how BEP had it. You just jump in, play what you want and that’s it. There isn’t anything to unlock at all in the game, everything is available right from the get go, so your only objective in here is to basically get a high score. There are 6 venues that you get to play in, but you don’t get to choose. Songs are associated with certain venues, so to experience all of them you have play quite a few songs.

Dance Battle

This is the battle portion that is for 2 players only. It’s simultaneous and each player can choose their own difficulty which is always a nice feature. I didn’t have a second able body to try it out so I’m not certain if it’s just score based or if there’s power ups or anything that would make it more fun. On a side note, a second player can jump in at any time as well no matter what mode you are in.

Dance Marathon

I thought this was kind of cool and different. Instead of just playing some random playlist, they actually added a challenge factor. All songs are random and you have a life bar which consists of 10 diamonds. The more moves you do successfully, the less life you lose. Not nailing every move will gradually decrease your life bar though in half increments. Once you a complete a song, a little bit of your life bar is restored so as long as you dance well, you can keep this mode going on for a while. You do also get point bonuses for dancing well, amount of calories and doing the final pose. Yes, there is a calorie counter in here, I’m not sure why it’s not an option and only available in this mode. Overall, it was something fun to do. I did make a video of it so you can see for yourself, however I forewarn you, I haven’t played any of these songs and they are all on newbie difficulty, and yes there are few times I have no idea what I’m doing:

Power Skooling

This is the learning mode, which has been revamped but for the better again. You pick a song you want to practice and all of the moves are available to practice. You can practice them as many times as you want until you feel comfortable with them, even though this is a small ordeal, you practice to the beat, not to the part of the song where that move is played as it is in Dance Central’s learning mode. I liked that it just wasn’t a loop of the music, but the entire song. Like I said, it’s a small ordeal to me, but it made that much better in my opinion. If the song’s beat is too fast for you, you do have the option to slow it down and it just starts some random beat to dance the moves to. That’s basically all there is to it. I made a video of this as well:

Wardrobe

As with the last experience we had, this one again has the cool wardrobe option. I wasn’t overly impressed though as BEP had a ton more clothing options to really customize your character. As I mentioned earlier, everything is unlocked from the beginning so by doing well, you don’t earn any cool clothes. Anyhow, the wardrobe is broken down into 3 categories. The first is style which covers the following:

  • Headwear
  • Glasses
  • Upper Body
  • Upper Body Long Sleeve
  • Lower Body
  • Footwear
The second category is your characters features which are broken down into:
  • Skin Color
  • Hair Style
  • Face
  • Tattoo
  • Eye Color
  • Beard
The last option is to change your gender. I didn’t check out the female’s items to see if they different options available but unfortunately it’s not going to make or break this game by either means. It seemed that more effort was put into character customization in BEP than this one, unfortunately.

Options

Last are the options. You can turn voice recognition for the song select on or off. You can also adjust the latency setting to match the music with your TV. You can also change your storage device as well as viewing the credits.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s a step in the right direction with detection, although everything else seemed to go backwards in my opinion. The soundtrack is great, if you are older like I am, you will recognize most of these hits. I never knew you could really dance to a Too $hort song. I was hoping there would be some kind of campaign mode to this but unfortunately that’s all it is. It would have been amazing if they could have put all of the artists in here to dance with, just like how we were used to dancing with The Black Eyed Peas and even go through the history of Hip-Hop, having you start off as a nobody to become a somebody since every era is in here.

Anyhow, it’s not bad, but iNiS should really take advantage of the Karaoke with these music games. I know they tried with BEP and it wasn’t good at all, but how can they create the best karaoke series and not be able to replicate it in a Kinect title. Ubisoft also tried with The Michael Jackson Experience as well. Let’s face it, the next step for Kinect dancing games is to allow singing, and whomever does it first, either Ubisoft or Harmonix, will be crowned the king of the Dance Genre. If you love the soundtrack for this one, and just want to dance and not worry about anything else, then you will want this one. If you are looking for a more immersive experience, then you will have to wait until the next “experience” arrives.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of The Hip-Hop Dance Experience
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?