gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Dance Paradise Kinect Review

I don’t know why I’m committing my opinion of this game to the wider world, it would seem obvious to all that I’m rife with bias and contempt for pop-orientated dancing games. And, to some extent, all would be absolutely correct. I don’t dislike pop entirely as a category, but simply maintain that most music that sits in this pseudo genre is awful. And it general is.

Dance Paradise takes a very mediocre chunk of this awful music, plus a handful of more-or-less passable songs, and couples it with some very disjointed dance moves which are both difficult to follow and seemingly completely unrelated to the music currently being played. Is a massive lineup of A-list pop and a smattering of dancable classics really too much to ask? I guess so, as “downloadable content” is clearly the watch-phrase for any even slightly expandable title these days. Only, with dance games, instead of giving you a horse and selling you horse armour, they give you the horse armour and sell you the horse. That said, to my knowledge no downloadable content has yet been confirmed for Dance Paradise,

Not content, however, with simply jumping onto the Kinect dance game bandwagon, Dance Paradise also includes a dash of Guitar Hero, and not in a good way. The basic premise is that blocky, cartoon characters proceed down four colour coded tracks, ala Guitar Hero’s notes, toward you, strutting their stuff and warning you of the complicated and not particularly well flowing dance move you must pull off next. Once they hit the end of the track, you must not only be successfully copying their dance moves, but have simultaneously also jumped to the virtual space assigned to that particular track. It’s difficult to explain, but you must move left and right, using your whole body to dance in the right track, with the right moves.

It’s a complicated mess that doesn’t feel even remotely like dancing, and yet I still somehow managed to pull off a sizable number of “Perfects” performing what must have looked to the outside observer like the death throes of a headless chicken. The dance moves don’t seem to relate to the music, each other, or anything much in fact. Nothing seems to flow properly from one move to the other and, unlike the infinitely superior Dance Central, it really doesn’t feel like dancing. Just a chore.

What Dance Paradise has over Dance Central, however, is music videos. If you want to watch the music video and, to some extent, enjoy the music whilst you flail your arms about in a vague attempt to parrot the dance “moves” thrown at you by the game, then it’ll at least be some fun. Fortunately the developers allowed you to simply sit on the sofa and watch the same videos, without the nuisance of having to actually move around.

Speaking of sitting on the sofa, if you’ve got friends over for a dance off then that’s what they’re going to be doing most of the time. Whilst Dance Paradise is perfectly capable of supporting and recognising two dances simultaneously, if you can provide the ming-boggling amount of space that Kinect requires for more than one person then I, quite frankly, envy your cavernous abode. In order to successfully dance side-by-side you will be needing the sort of room that you see in the adverts, minus the crowd of onlookers because the Kinect really can’t cope with any non-players being in the frame.

It’s important to stress, however, that this is a requirement and limitation of Kinect as a technology, and not the game itself. It’s a sad and oft-mentioned fact that Kinect requires a living room the size of a Blimp hanger in order to function as advertised. Of course, if you’re inebriated enough then the occasional beatings you give your opponent whilst over-enthusiastically attempting to pull off some of the more elaborate dance moves are all part of the fun.

The set list is brief, varied, and full of C-list songs that I’m absolutely positive nobody actually likes. Okay, it’s got Lady Gaga, La Roux, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. All of whom I find vaguely listenable. And there’s MC Hammer’s classic “Can’t Touch This”. Sadly the lack of any real connection between the dance moves and the actual music really detracts from any enjoyment one might have dancing to these songs, and the amount of inconsequential crap that fills in the spaces in the set list is really quite shocking. Artist names including an ampersand, or “featuring” someone else, generally lead to abysmal sonic experience, and there are far too many of these. Seriously, the videos to most Rap songs themselves show that dancing mostly involves grinding ones genitalia upon someone’s thigh, they have no business being in a dance game, and even less business being one (or about 7) out of only 40 songs.

Overall, Dance Paradise is anything but a paradise, and is decidedly more a me-to game which seeks to bring the already horribly crowded dancing game genre crashing down under a towering pile of fetid shovelware. Buy Dance Central instead– It looks a million times better, it actually lets you learn the dance moves one by one, and it genuinely does feel like dancing. If someone kindly picks you up a copy of Dance Paradise this Christmas, then the trade-in discount on Dance Central should be handy, too!

If you have Dance Central, have danced it to destruction and are looking for something else to satiate your dancing desires then you’d best watch out for pre-owned or bargain bin copies of this title. It’s got a certain amount of play value, albiet that amount is decidedly nominal, and if you’re drunk, and have similarly intoxicated company it could actually be called fun. Otherwise- grab Dance Evolution, if you think you’re good enough!

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, Xbox 360.