Friday, November 12, 2010

Video game number three hundred and twenty four: Dance Masters

Video game review number three hundred and twenty four in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Dance Masters"

Here are three factual statements:

I loved Dance Central for Kinect.
I loved Dance Dance Revolution by Konami.
Konami has just released a dancing game for Kinect.

If you put those three statements together, logically, you might assume that I would automatically love Dance Masters. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. This game sucks out loud.

I'm not sure what the hell Konami was thinking with this one. Maybe they don't understand what's "cool" about Kinect (I should have probably assumed that after playing Adrenalin Misfits this morning). Whatever the reason, they've created a shit-tacular dancing game here that feels nothing like dancing at all. Instead....the game forces you to strike weird and awkward poses at random times during a bunch of songs by artists you've never heard of.

The first thing I did was take the entire tutorial, which took me quite awhile. In the tutorial, I learned about "posing". In this game, two green silhouettes of your character will come from either side of the screen, colliding in the middle on time with the beat. You must strike that pose at that instant to score some points. If you miss it, you'll simply get a "boo" and eventually fail the song. In addition to that, there are little on screen circles you must touch with your hand (also on beat). There are circles below your feet, to the sides, sometimes two at a time. These circles come in different colors, some require you to touch them, others require you to hold your hand in them for a set amount of time, and others require 3 or 4 "touches" before they'll disappear.

In addition to everything above (as if that didn't sound confusing enough) there are silhouettes that require you to shout at the same time you strike your pose (I went with "woo!"). It feels as ridiculous to do as it sounds, and it's not in time with the music at all. There are also silhouettes that require you to shake your hips back and forth on time with arrows (which was the only thing in this game that felt remotely like dancing). Finally, there are hand motions that reminded me of Just Dance, only...they are actually tracked by the camera. If this sounds confusing, it is.

This game feels like a bunch of people at Konami got together in a conference room with 10 different ideas of how this game should work and then got into a big fight about whose idea they were going to use. In the end, instead of picking one idea and creating a good game based on it, they decided to just throw all ten concepts into the game and make all the people in the room happy. Unfortunately for the player, the resulting game feels like a fucking mess.

All of these different types of moves will pop up during a song, and if you can do them all'll build up combos, which fill your dance meter. Once you fill that, you have to somehow stick your right arm INTO your dance meter for a set amount of time (this is hard, because you're also supposed to keep doing poses the whole time this is going on). Once you manage to stick your right arm into the dance meter for a few seconds, it will light up....and then you get the opportunity to reach into your dance meter again to activate a slider. Once again, this will mess up your posing. If you can somehow manage to do all of this correctly without failing out of the song a result, you get to go to the "Parallel Universe". What's that? Who the fuck knows...but it turns the screen all sorts of weird rainbow colors for a few seconds.

After taking this insanely long tutorial, I played through 5 or 6 songs. I even made it to the stupid Parallel Universe once or twice. Although none of the songs on the disk were by artists I've heard of, I did recognize a few covers of old DDR songs. I'd wager that the only people who will find songs they know on this disk are going to be old school Dance Dance Revolution fans, and even so...the songs are just updated covers of those classics, not the originals you know and love.

Overall Score? 3/10. I know I've only played a few so far, but this is the worst Kinect game I've seen yet. I actually had less fun playing this game than I did with Just Dance 2, and that's saying a lot. I know there are a lot of Kinect launch titles to choose from, but I seriously hope that people don't make the mistake of choosing this dancing game over the other, much better one.

Dance Masters is new and different, and although the scoring is admittedly very accurate, the way you are scored is just all over the place. It's hard to learn, hard to play...and most importantly, it doesn't feel like dancing at all. Konami should stick to making dance games with plastic mats. That's what they're good at. Other than trying this game out of sheer curiosity, I don't think there's any reason to ever play it. Rent it....don't buy it.

Achievements: It's lame that after playing it for over an hour, all I could get was one lousy achievement. These achievements are ridiculous and require you to play this game for quite a bit longer than I'd ever be willing to. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to this, but if I do....I'll certainly never go after the full 1000.

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