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Dance Paradise Kinect Review


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Dance Paradise Kinect Review
03-23-2011, 05:08 AM (This post was last modified: 03-10-2012 01:23 PM by dirtyvu.)
Post: #1
Dance Paradise Kinect Review
Dance Paradise

[Image: mki3vp.jpg]
  • http://www.danceparadisegame.com/
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Developer: Smack Down Productions
  • Genre: Dance
  • Players: 2
  • Xbox Live supported?: Yes (leaderboard)
  • Uses avatars?: Yes
  • Age group: 6+

Dance Paradise - The good
  • The best soundtrack of all current dance games
  • Simultaneous 2-player multiplayer
  • Ability to create custom playlists
  • Ability to watch full-length music videos

Dance Paradise - The not so good
  • Lack of sufficient tutorial mode
  • Dance consists of strings of dance moves rather than a single choreographed routine
  • Music is so good that the shortened dance version begs to be longer
  • Will occasionally lose track of player (but rare)

Dance Paradise - Introduction
Dance Paradise is another dance game that is available for the Kinect Sensor. It plays like Guitar Hero or Rock Band but instead of hitting a note on 1 of 4 lanes, you do dance moves on the lane. It has a "dance power" that behaves like the "star power" of Guitar Hero.


Dance Paradise - Kinect experience
Dance Paradise is a very large installation, needing 6.2 GB to install to hard drive. The game doesn't require a hard drive but I'd advise installing it to the hard drive if you can because the load times for the songs are long. It's faster than Just Dance 2 but Just Dance 2 has no hard drive installation option. For comparison, Dance Central required 1.6 GB.

The user interface controls quite well. It utilizes Kinect ID well. Menu navigation is quite easy and the control is very good. If you don’t like navigating the user interface with your hand, you can use a standard 360 game controller. There is a slightly frustrating element to scrolling through the songs though. If you like to flip through the songs slowly so you can see what the song is, you can hold your hand over the arrow button. However, it’ll advance slowly for only 2 songs. If you hold over the button for more than 2 songs, it’ll start to scroll really fast which may cause you to skip pass the song you want. So if you know the song you want is a few songs away but not far away, what basically happens is that you have to hold over the button for 2 songs, then lift your hand off the button and then put it back on the button to scroll for 2 more songs and then lift off. This can become very annoying.

Again, once you know where all the songs are located in the list, scrolling fast is advantageous. Luckily, you can control the user interface by the controller if you want more granularity in your navigation. I would say that its menu navigation is right up there with the best Kinect titles. It's below Dance Central's UI but above Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports (the snap-on motion of the cursor can be annoying sometimes).

The motion recognition for the dancing appears good such that if you do the move correctly and in the correct lane, you will score well. The key is being in the correct lane in order to be recognized for doing the move properly.


Dance Paradise - Graphics
The graphics are bright and colorful with a cartoony appearance. In the upper center of the screen, you see the music video for the song playing. The majority of the screen is dedicated to the 4 dancing lanes. The right side of the screen shows your Xbox Live avatar. When you perform the move correctly, your avatar will perform the move correctly. Sprinkled around the screen are random avatars who are also dancing to the music. The far left shows your "dance power" which behaves like "star power" in Guitar Hero. The dance moves which you are to mimic are conducted by Gumby-like characters. The graphics are not complex or have special effects like Dance Central or even Michael Jackson (Wii) but they do look better than Just Dance 2. But the music video and seeing your own avatar dancing just feels good. It feels like you're having an effect on the dancing whereas Dance Central and Just Dance 2 have a canned effect. You can just stand there and the on-screen character keeps going like you don't exist.


Dance Paradise - Gameplay
There are 2 difficulty modes that can be set under the options: easy and hard. This is a global setting that sets the default difficulty for the song. However, in the song selection screen, you can individually set the difficulty for the song. So for example, you can set Easy under Options so that all the songs are tagged for easy difficulty and then change a song such as “It’s Raining Me” to Hard.

Under the single player mode options, you have Career and Free Play.

The first thing most gamers do when they get a game is jump into the career mode to finish the game since gamers tend to be goal-oriented. Games like Dance Central prevented this by making you do the breakdown mode to unlock the career mode of the song. But Dance Paradise lets you jump right into the career mode. In career mode, they'll give you a goal for a song such as having to perform a minimum of 5 combos. Since there’s no tutorial for the dancing, the career mode can feel like a chore because you have to accomplish some career goal, but you didn’t have a previous chance to learn the song so you’re just trying to do the moves on the fly to do the career.

Dance Paradise has a free mode where you can freely select any single song and there’s no specific goal. You just dance. This is the mode to learn the dance steps for the songs. It’s more fun not having a goal to do when it comes to dancing. And once the moves are learned, the career mode becomes more fun because you’re just dancing and if you dance correctly, you’ll almost certainly accomplish the career goal for the song.

In the free play mode, you can choice over the specific song you want to play. However, it’s not like Dance Central where you pick a song and then jump right into it. In Dance Paradise’s free play mode, you are supposed to create a playlist of songs you want to play. If you only want to play a single song in Dance Paradise, you create a playlist of 1 song. Otherwise, you can create a longer playlist of all the songs you like. I think the limit is 8 songs at a time. The playlist feature is very nice and useful because it makes it so that you’re just dancing once the playlist is done. Once you have started a playlist, you can move forward or backward on the list. So when you finish a song, you can choose to retry the dance, go to a previous song or go to the next song. Dance Central doesn’t have a playlist function but you can jump into a song quicker because you don’t have to generate a playlist.

The tutorial is very basic and it only serves to teach the basic game mechanics of Dance Paradise such as how to transition from one lane to the next and how to activate your Dance Power. It doesn’t really serve to teach you how to dance. It does get you an easy achievement and that’s all it’s good for. But apparently people skipped the tutorial, judging from the comments on Amazon where people didn’t realize you need to change lanes to dance.

The nice thing about Dance Paradise is that it has multiplayer modes where you can compete head to head simultaneously locally. It’s only simultaneous 2 players, but it’s functional. There’s no online multiplayer. Zumba Fitness and Dance Masters/Dance Evolution also allow for simultaneous local multiplayer and online. Dance Central only offers alternating multiplayer.

Versus mode is where the best dancer wins (highest score).

Attack mode allows you to can use attacks to weaken the opponent. Attacks are activated by jumping. You build up your “dance power” and then unleash an attack. The issues with this is that 1) it’s kind of hard to see when your “dance power” is charged enough to unleash (kind of like how some versions of Guitar Hero, it was hard to see the star power in the periphery) since they only change the color of the star and it’s in the far peripheral view and 2) you have to jump to initiate the attack which can throw off the rhythm. But again, hitting “star power” in Guitar Hero often could threw off your rhythm too. As you do the moves correctly, the “dance power” gauge goes up. When the gauge is full, indicated by all 5 stars being lit, you can then jump to activate your “dance power”. Note that “dance power” is also used in single player but in single player, it’s to achieve career goals or to boost scores.

Some attacks include Vitality theft (steal opponent’s energy), Track jump (keeps changing the opponent’s track/lane), Twinkling (makes the opponent’s silhouette difficult to see by twinkling it), Stuck (prevents opponent from changing tracks), Hidden (makes opponent’s silhouette transparent so it’s hard to see), Free (freezes the opponent’s avatar so they can’t dance), and Score theft (steal 10% of opponents score and add it to your own).

Synchro mode is synchronized dancing where teamwork is key. It’s more about being in sync than anything else. Otherwise, you're trying to figure out who's to blame for messing up the routine.

I have Just Dance 2, Michael Jackson (Wii version), Zumba (Kinect), Dance Central (Kinect), and Dance Paradise (Kinect). Now I feel Dance Paradise is the best soundtrack of them all. It's really, really good. The game has all the original music videos and original music tracks. There are no covers like in Just Dance 2. There are 40 tracks which is impressive since they're all original tracks whereas Just Dance 2 has 44 tracks but quite a number of cover versions. Dance Central only has 30 tracks but you can purchase additional tracks.

The dancing, like all Kinect games, measures your entire body too. They tried to follow the Guitar Hero/Rock Band system where the center of the screen is occupied by 4 lanes or tracks. The dance moves you are supposed to do are coming down the lanes so you have to change to the correct lane for the game to score your move. This throws a lot of people off and the comments you read on places like Amazon reflect this. Because sometimes when things get hectic, you're doing the correct dance move but you're in the wrong lane so it counts as a miss. The body recognition is fairly accurate, arguably as accurate as Dance Central.

Now onto the dancing… When you dance a song, the routine is essentially a string of dance moves. It's not a single choreographed routine designed for the song like in Dance Central or Just Dance 2. For example, in Dance Paradise, you may do a jitterbug move and then transition to the swim move, then transition to a cross over move. The moves are actual moves from the past including a number of disco moves, the hula, some moves from the 60s like the mashed potato, the twist, the swim, etc. You’ll definitely recognize some Lady Gaga music video moves. There’s even an abridged version of the Macarena. So basically all the craze moves that were cool at the time but are corny now. There doesn’t appear to be a huge number of dance moves. It appears that they recorded some moves specifically for some songs and then reused those moves in other songs (but they do little things like slow down the move for the song or speed up the move depending on tempo). So some songs seem well choreographed but other songs seem haphazard. The well-choreographed songs feel awesome and feel Dance Central-esque. The other songs feel disjointed.

The game uses some Gumby-like dance characters which you are supposed to mimic. Because they are Gumby-shaped, it can make it hard to figure out how you’re supposed to do the move. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which way the character is bending because he’s a simple Gumby model. In Dance Central, Just Dance 2, etc., you have more realistic looking models which makes it easier to mimic. On the right side of the screen, you see your own Xbox Live avatar and when you do the move correctly, your avatar will dance correctly. And your avatar’s movements are quite easy to see. If they simply had your avatar traveling down the 4 lanes, performing the moves would be much easier (though it would be a little surreal to see 4 copies of yourself moving down the lane).

As for the length of dancing, both Dance Paradise and Dance Central have shortened, abridged versions of the original tracks. Dance Paradise just goes roughly halfway through a song and stops. I suppose they couldn’t edit the audio track since there’s a music video. Dance Central, on the other hand, adroitly edits the track so that while it’s a shortened track, it feels like a complete song because it has a beginning and an end. Just Dance 2, Dance Masters, and Zumba Fitness have complete full length tracks. However, the Just Dance series uses a lot of cover songs. I suspect all these decisions were because of royalty costs. JD used covers whereas DP and DC used shortened songs.

Dance Paradise also has a feature called the Video box, and the video box allows you to set up a playlist of music videos to watch. A limit of up to 8 videos can be in your playlist. Once you have started the playlist, there are on-screen buttons to exit, to advance to the next video or to go back to the previous video. Once the playlist has started, it will play to completion and then repeat. To exit, you have to select the exit button. The videos are in the correct 16:9 aspect ratio, but the video doesn’t fill up the entire screen. Instead of taking a full-screen 1280x720, the music video is 710x400. While the video is definitely standard definition, it looks pretty good. The framerate of the video appears odd as it seems to be skipping frames in order to keep the video and audio synchronized. This may be due to a PAL to NTSC conversion issue as this was originally a European title but has been brought to the States.

Another strange phenomenon is if you are standing in front of the TV or are out of view of the Kinect, the buttons will disappear so that you have a clean view of the video which is nice. But if you are sitting on the couch in the Kinect’s view, the buttons stay on the screen underneath the music video, and subtle movements of your body can move the on-screen cursor which is distracting because if the cursor moves over a button, it causes the “select button” sound effect when all you want to hear is the music video.

Also if you plan to watch a bunch of videos without intervening, make sure you either turn off the 360 system screen saver or move every once in awhile or else the screen saver will kick in and dim the screen. To turn off the dimming, just move a little and the screen wakes up.

Regardless, the videos are watchable and a really nice feature. The music videos are the original full length videos. I never saw some of these videos so it was fun to watch. This makes it more sad that the whole song isn’t played during the dance especially when you really like the song and want to dance for more than 3 minutes. When you see how hot some of the girls are in the videos, you’ll appreciate the inclusion of the music videos. The music videos are so fun that it makes you reminisce of the days when MTV actually played music videos.

If you’re an achievement fan, Dance Paradise is the game for you. I completed 7 achievements just by doing 1 song. In fact, after playing a few times, I had more achievement points in Dance Paradise than I had in Dance Central, and I’ve had Dance Central since before Christmas.


Conclusion
Dance Paradise is a fun game and would make a fine addition to your Kinect library if you like dancing. If you’re really not into dancing or only want 1 dance title, that should be Dance Central. But if you want to complement Dance Central, try out Dance Paradise.

I like this game a lot because of the music. It also has simultaneous multiplayer (2 players). The negatives are that when you dance a song, the routine is a string of dance moves. For some songs, it works really well. For other songs, the moves don’t flow together. The other negative is you only get to dance half the song. It just reaches a point and then fades out to a results screen. It feels bad because you really get into a good song and it ends just when you're into a groove. What makes it feel bad too is that they included the full-length music videos which you can play in their video jukebox.


Screenshots
Gameplay
[Image: 9huw6f.jpg]

Menu
[Image: 2em33fp.jpg]

Video Box
[Image: 2pt6rs3.jpg]


Video
Kevin Rudolf ft Lil Wayne (Let It Rock)

50 cent (In Da Club)

Atomic Kitten (Ladies Night)

Gloria Gaynor (I Will Survive)

720P dancing...



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