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.[drop]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.[drop2]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.
- 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.
- 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.