One of the major benefits of virtual reality over other types of gaming is how active it keeps you. Whether you’re moving around to dodge bullets, swinging a sword, or moving to the music, you are rarely still. Dance Central for the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift certainly pushes you further than some other games though, having you move your whole body to score points.
Dance The Night Away
Dance Central takes place in a club that is due to shut down. It’s more of a setting than a story, with other dancers mentioning all sorts of different rumors about why it is shutting down and what will happen to it.
The club is open for now though and while it is, you can spend your time with some dancer characters, some with some rather unique personalities. You can choose a location within the club to visit and dance with each of the other dancers to a wide selection of thirty-two popular songs. While there are plenty of songs included in the base game, there are also a small amount of DLC songs to potentially purchase for a small cost. I was quite tempted to buy the Gangnam Style DLC since it would be quite fun to dance to, but I refrained.
Getting Those Points
Dancing in Dance Central essentially means mirroring the other dancer. It’s not just a case of moving your arms when they do though! You need to move your body up and down, side-step and have your hands in the right state as well as position. There’s more to keep track of when compared to a lot of other rhythm games, even though it’s just mostly based on headset and controller position. Many similar games are just about using your controllers to hit the right points with the right timing.
As you dance, you will receive scores for each mirrored movement. You can get flawless, great, or good scores if you succeed. This culminates in a final score for the leaderboards and a rating out of 5 stars. It isn’t really too difficult to get a respectable rating in normal mode.
One feature that I liked while doing this was that it showed cards for each upcoming motion. These gave you an idea of how to do the move as well as what was coming up. They can be turned off though.
When you feel things are too easy, you can move over to pro mode. This is far less forgiving. You need to match the choreography a lot more closely than in normal mode.
Fortunately, if pro mode or even the normal mode is too much for you, there is help. One of the characters you meet will happily teach you everything you need to know in the studio. You can practice whole songs or even just parts of them on repeat. You can slow things down as far as half speed to help you practice the movements. There’s more guidance here on exactly how to move and perform the poses too.
There isn’t really too much in the way of progression in Dance Central. You can clear all of the songs with good scores, but there are only a few things to do beyond that.
The game has simulated social features where the characters will send messages to you, as well as challenges to beat their scores. By dancing with the characters and beating their challenges, you can earn respect. By leveling this up enough with a character, you can unlock some cosmetics. Personally, I didn’t feel the need for cosmetics. I rarely looked at my clothing being a first-person point of view. With that said, the simulated social features and chatter from the characters did help to bring things to life a bit more, as well as adding a goal.
Aside from playing with the NPCs, you can send and receive challenges between friends if you know anyone else who owns the game. There is also a more direct form of multiplayer where you can meet other players in a lounge which I gather can include two versus two and team dances. Unfortunately, I was never able to find anyone else playing online to test it personally. I’d not expect to be able to use this feature unless you can convince a number of your friends to play too.
I touched on it before, but I feel that Dance Central is quite good for fitness. It is a fairly light form of exercise but it always has you moving about. This will vary somewhat though, as the more closely you mirror the movements, the more intense the exercise. It should help primarily for aerobic exercise, flexibility, and the strength to hold a position.
There is an included fitness tracker where you can input your height and weight. It estimates the calories used by playing which is a nice feature.
Overall I enjoyed Dance Central. It was a nice change from most of the other rhythm games that I’ve played in both type and intensity. There’s quite a good music selection and it has some nice features to keep players invested.
It is a pity that there isn’t more in the way of progression and that multiplayer isn’t active. The latter is fairly typical of many virtual reality games outside of the smash hits though, so cannot really be helped.
DANCE CENTRAL IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Harmonix/Oculus for an Oculus Quest review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.