Dance Evolution

By: Tristan Clark    On: Xbox 360
Published: Sunday 26 Dec 2010 10:00 AM
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Let’s get this out of the way right now: this is no Dance Central. But it’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 aren’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 here’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. Evolution’s tutorials, by comparison, are staid; while they teach you the basic methods of interaction, they certainly don’t let you in on how to look like the onscreen dancers do. Instead, you’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 doesn’t seem advanced enough to properly judge your dancing. This isn’t an issue so much for those who just want to move around, but if you’re looking for recognition of any growing skill, you won’t find it here.

Again, this is all a result of the DDR DNA: it’s not about dancing so much as it’s about correctly following onscreen cues. Looking good or terrible, or actually learning a whole set of dance moves, isn’t as big a priority.

The soundtrack is… 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 I’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 Harmonix’s launch gem if you’re a complete DDR nut with a big love for Japanese pop.

The Score

Dance Evolution
"Not a train wreck, but it can’t compare to Dance Central."
Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments (6)

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On Sunday 26 Dec 2010 10:52 AM Posted by Donutta VIP
"I would only recommend this game over Harmonix’s launch gem if you’re a complete DDR nut with a big love for Japanese pop."

This sums it up for me. The tracklist for Dance Central is simply abysmal and an utter turn off for me. The only track that interests me is Poker Face, of all things. I'd be more willing to give this a look because of the track list.
On Sunday 26 Dec 2010 11:00 AM Posted by Donutta VIP
Actually, I just watched this video on YouTube. This game could sell me on Kinect where Dance Central couldn't...

I'm such a dork for the DDR music.
On Sunday 26 Dec 2010 11:06 AM Posted by Donutta VIP
Okay, watching videos has sold me on this. It's like a full body version of Elite Beat Agents with DDR music.

Time to get a Kinect, I think.

I have the weirdest system sellers...
On Monday 27 Dec 2010 10:18 PM Posted by Oliver VIP
Not to insult you Donutta, but won't you have to buy a new 360 as well as Kinect? And all that for just one game? I wish I had that kind of cash.
On Monday 27 Dec 2010 11:21 PM Posted by Donutta VIP
27 December 2010, 10:18 PM Reply to Oliver
Not to insult you Donutta, but won't you have to buy a new 360 as well as Kinect? And all that for just one game? I wish I had that kind of cash.
I don't think you know how much I used to play DDR back in the day. At least $5 worth a day. ^_^
On Monday 3 Jan 2011 12:34 PM Posted by tnzk
Within five seconds of watching a video I could tell you could arse your way through the entire thing.

I never understood why the Japanese called this "dancing" either. When it comes to pop and hip hop, real Japanese dancers have it on lockdown. But gaming wise? DDR should never have had the word "dance" in it.

Both this and Dance Central have ultra gay routines though. Here's hoping Michael Jackson: The Experience on Kinect can teach a few boys how to dance like men!