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Review

DanceStar Party Review

Ain't no party like a DanceStar Party.

The glory days of Dance Dance Revolution and its imitators have long gone by. With the newest generation of motion gaming tech, dance mats have been banished to the attic in favour of much more engaging, enjoyable methods of play; the rhythm genre having witnessed a sudden rise in popularity as instrument-based titles such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band have slowly declined.


DanceStar Party also features a Workout Mode, but without full-body tracking, it's a pretty useless add-on which calculates how many calories have been burned simply through the gestures of one arm.
Despite not being the first dance game to utilise motion controls, Just Dance has proven to be the most popular, being Ubisoft’s top-selling title for the Nintendo Wii. MTV’s Dance Central for the Xbox 360 has also drawn quite the following, along with a positive critical reception to match.

With PlayStation Move having been in circulation for over a year now, Sony may have been slow in getting its own foothold in what looks to be a definitive genre in casual gaming but with a friendly price-point and the talent of SCE London, DanceStar Party still has a fighting chance, having vastly improved upon the studio’s first attempt with SingStar Dance.

From the get go everything in DanceStar Party is made available to the player, including the 40-strong tracklist and selection of game modes. There’s no over-arching objective here, no means of in-game progression, just the incentive to have fun and nab a few high scores along the way. When playing solo your options are limited to the standard “Dance Now” mode, allowing you to tackle any of DanceStar’s tracks alone, either in their entirety or a shortened version, both with three tiers of difficulty. Beginner is the ideal entry point for newcomers to the genre with basic movements delivered at a fair pace. Intermediate starts to up the ante, and professional requires quick transitions from one complex move to the other at the game’s highest tempo. The different levels don’t just make a routine more challenging but really add some variety, with each tier feeling like a completely separate routine.

The actual gameplay can take some getting used to even if you happen to be familiar with the rhythm genre, but it doesn’t take long for everything to fall into place. Each track will feature a dancer who occupies the centre-right of the screen; to score points you simply have to following their moves one-to-one. Depending on how accurately you mimic their gestures you will be given a rating, spanning from the rock bottom “X” to “Flawless,” extra points also being awarded for “Streak” combos. Once finished, the points are tallied up and a star-rating is awarded, five stars being the max.

The bulk of DanceStar Party is dedicated to its multiplayer focus, there being more than enough content to satiate those who prefer to play alone. The presence of a second player not only unlocks competitive dance offs but also opens access to “Dance Partners,” a co-operative mode compatible with all 40 songs, presenting an extra routine engineered for dual-play. Taking the multiplayer interaction even further is “Dance Party,” allowing for up to 20 local players to join a massive lobby, pairs taking it in turns to go head to head.


Players who fancy themselves as vocalists can also enable a SingStar-like mode, chanting lyrics and busting moves in sync.
During play, the PlayStation Eye will snap photos and video footage, either of which can be uploaded to DanceStar’s user-content server for others players to sneak a peek at and rate if they feel so inclined. Its uses are fairly limited, though it’s easy enough to navigate and the game also features Twitter and Facebook integration for sharing your content.

Outside of the main game, you can also create your own dance routines for each song. No matter how bizarre or frantic as long as your motions can be traced by the PlayStation Eye they can be converted into gestures for other players to mimic.

From Tinie Tempah and Jessie J to Karl Douglas and Barry White, DanceStar Party is packing a diverse tracklist which is bound to keep everyone happy, and it doesn’t stop there. Downloadable content is already available, each additional song suited for every game mode including Dance Partners, but at a steep asking price. Available from most retailers at just over a tenner, we’d expect the DLC to yield just as much value for money, but with content only being available in bundles of three and not accessible via in-game menus SCE London’s approach to post-launch support is over-priced and under-developed.

Pros:

  • With a diverse tracklist of 40 songs there’s something for everyone.
  • Move is precise, easy to set-up, and consistent.
  • Ability to create and share your own dance routines.
  • Dance Partners (co-op) is a certified party-starter.
  • Spotless, clutter-free menus and game interface.
  • Available from most retailers for under £15 at launch.

Cons:

  • Transition to the PSN Store is sluggish.
  • Downloadable tracks are a bit on the steep side, only available in bundles.
  • Without full-body tracking Workout Mode is ineffective.
  • Despite Move’s precision, the game only allows for one controller per player.
It certainly isn’t pushing any boundaries, but DanceStar Party offers an enjoyable overall experience with a competitive price to match. It would have been great to see SCE London go the extra mile with a more comprehensive user-content system or maybe even tracking two Moves controller per player, but innovation clearly wasn’t the goal here; Sony just wanted its foot in the door. The first iteration of DanceStar may not reach the heights of Dance Central or Just Dance, but we’re certain this new series will be on level pegging when the next wave of rhythm games come around.

Score: 7/10

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12 Comments
  1. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    The genre itself is dead to me but I can’t help but think the visuals have been thrown together very quickly when comparing them to the other/stronger titles available. It almost looks “cheap” to be brutally honest.

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 11:14.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      isn’t it just very much in the same style as SingStar? I thought the simplicity was a design choice rather than a rush job. Although even so, it is a bit rough around the edges, judging from screens.

      Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 11:27.
      • Tomhlord
        Team TSA: Writer
        Since: Apr 2009

        Missing the point a little, if I’m honest. The menus are streamlined deliberately to work with the Move as the primary controller, which they do a very fine job of doing :)

        Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 22:26.
      • Rad4Life
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        It is the exact graphical layout as SingStar. This could not have taken very long at all to develop. Just reskin SingStar PS3 and add some dance code. Viola!

        Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 23:23.
    • djhsecondnature
      Since: Forever

      Have to disagree here. It’s a very similar style to SingStar and the game looks MUCH better in motion than the screens suggest.

      Compare it would JustDance/Dance Central and it’s probably the more atheistically pleasing.

      Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 11:33.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Ah, I was half-wondering if seeing it in motion would appease my criticism. :-)

        Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 11:46.
      • Jim Hargreaves
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        As Davs said, it’s very SingStar inspired and looks pretty funky in motion. At £10 and given the slightly smaller feature set compared to other dance games, I suspect that Sony were trying to rush this out of the doors for an Autumn release, but it actually comes together nicely.

        Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 16:09.
  2. minerwilly
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    Errrmm .. the demo was pretty good for this . Cough .. Cough right back to Battlefield.

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 11:22.
  3. Bodachi
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    I love playing Singstar and I can’t sing but I don’t think I’d like dancing to the music. Me, dancing would be incrediable embarrsing.

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 12:38.
  4. shields_t
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    Defo a stocking filler for the missus (that may happen to be an excuse to play it myself).

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 15:04.
  5. Tomhlord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    Not ashamed, love this game. The interface is the best bit because it has been designed with the Move in mind, no faffing around with a DS3, just straight into it!

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 22:25.
  6. Ro6afc11
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    Tried the demo, was in hysterics, bought it there and then for less than 8 quid. Not tried the full game yet envisage much hilarity over the Christmas period.

    Comment posted on 15/11/2011 at 23:52.

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