Letâ€™s get this out of the way right now: this is no Dance Central. But itâ€™s called Dance Evolution, so I can see how you got confused.
This particular Kinect dance game is from Konami, of Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) fame. This legacy has very much shaped Dance Evolution, with mixed results. By no means is this game as bad as the shovelware already available for Kinect, but nor is it a shining beacon of motion-controlled goodness.
Dance Evolution gives you a selection of not-overly-long songs and accompanying routines, with either a male or female dancer attached to them. You arenâ€™t expected to completely emulate your onscreen counterpart: instead, there are four types of movements that will appear. Steps require you to, yes, step in time to the main dancer; poses are silhouettes that you must copy; streams are glowing lines you follow with your arms; and ripples are simply areas around you that you must stab at.
On the easy difficulty settings, this can all feel pretty disconnected, and you can get away with barely moving at all. Thankfully, the harder difficulty has enough of these elements in each song to make it feel pretty involved. And like DDR, achieving an ever higher score will keep you coming back, until you look like a smooth old pro on each song.
But hereâ€™s my problem: every step of the way, I kept comparing this to Dance Central, and Evolution kept coming up short. Consider the tutorials: Dance Central allows you to break down every single routine, learning each move until you can properly perform a song. Evolutionâ€™s tutorials, by comparison, are staid; while they teach you the basic methods of interaction, they certainly donâ€™t let you in on how to look like the onscreen dancers do. Instead, youâ€™re left to try and mimic as best you can in order to be in the right position for the next cue.
And that brings me to another point: even on the harder difficulties, you can get away with too many half-arsed or just plain incorrect moves. Unlike with Dance Central, the body tracking in Evolution just doesnâ€™t seem advanced enough to properly judge your dancing. This isnâ€™t an issue so much for those who just want to move around, but if youâ€™re looking for recognition of any growing skill, you wonâ€™t find it here.
Again, this is all a result of the DDR DNA: itâ€™s not about dancing so much as itâ€™s about correctly following onscreen cues. Looking good or terrible, or actually learning a whole set of dance moves, isnâ€™t as big a priority.
The soundtrack isâ€¦ inoffensive. Again, very DDR. Nothing ever grated on my ears, but nothing stuck in my head, either. The music is simply functional. If having licensed tracks matters to you, look elsewhere.
To beat home the point Iâ€™ve been saying this whole time: Dance Evolution is not a bad game, but if you only want a single dancing Kinect title, forget this one immediately and buy Dance Central. I would only recommend this game over Harmonixâ€™s launch gem if youâ€™re a complete DDR nut with a big love for Japanese pop.