Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Chris Scott0
Dance Central Spotlight Review
Summary: Dance Central is the game Kinect owners came to love on the Xbox 360 and Dance Central Spotlight is a great start to something on the Xbox One.
Microsoft’s initial push of the Xbox One was reliant on selling the Kinect as a necessary accessory. And while it easily proved its worth to users in terms of voice-activated commands, there was nothing that showcased Kinect as a gaming device. The games that did use it fell into one of two categories: Crimson Dragon-level bad or Ryse-level unnecessary. The two biggest franchises to utilize the device, Kinect Sports and Dance Central, were notably absent from the launch window. Rare released an OK entry into the KInect Sports series earlier this year with Kinect Sports Rivals. Now, nearly a year after the Xbox One launched, Harmonix gives us Dance Central Spotlight, or, as I like to call it, The Game That Should Have Launched with the System.
Dance Central Spotlight marks the fourth entry into the dance-focused Kinect series and it is very familiar, albeit with some very notable differences. Spotlight still sees you dancing to choreographed routines set to individual tracks but does so in a very streamlined way. Gone is the elaborate career mode with goofy storylines that were part of both Dance Central 2 and 3. Spotlight simply pits you against the dance to try and get the highest score possible. Each dance now has eight routines associated with it, ranging from simple beginner dances to “professional” level numbers that will give you a workout.
Speaking of workouts, Dance Central continues its support for making you a healthier person by dancing in front of your television. Routines for each song are choreographed for fitness, cardio and strength. But Dance Central Spotlight goes a bit further than just giving you workout routines for each song. It also gives a host of options to select as well. From 10-minute to 60-minute workouts (and everything in between) that combine cardio and strength training to personalized fitness setlists that focus on one or the other, Dance Central Spotlight is a great workout tool. I can firmly attest to it working as intended as I was still feeling the burn two days after my first fitness workout.
However if you aren’t looking for a fitness program and instead just want to get your groove on, Dance Central Spotlight is still the game for you, although maybe not in the way you were expecting.
Like the nowhere-to-be-seen career mode, Dance Central Spotlight comes in missing the expansive song listing of past games. This is because Spotlight is a much smaller endeavor that serves as a platform for Dance Central as a service. Priced at $10, Spotlight comes equipped with 10 songs. If you want to dance to something else, you’ll need to buy it from the wholly integrated store. Legacy songs that you purchased previously in past Dance Central games will unlock free of charge but new songs will cost $1.99 a pop. Not every song ever done for past Dance Central titles is available yet but Harmonix is promising frequent updates to the Dance Central Store. And that will be the key to success for Dance Central Spotlight as a platform. If Harmonix can get us new routines in a timely fashion it could sustain the game for a long time.
Still, it doesn’t matter about how many routines there are for each song, how strong the fitness mode is, or even how Spotlight has become a platform. The reason you play Dance Central is to dance in front of your television, be it by yourself or with/against friends. And here the game shines. Starting with less complicated moves and transitions, Dance Central Spotlight gradually ramps up the difficulty and if you find yourself being hit with a number of moves that you can’t perform, telling the Kinect to slow it down will jump into a training session focused on making you better at the game. And it really is a showcase for the Kinect with everything working as intended, down to even tracking subtle movements that weren’t possible on the original Kinect. Most important is that the routines themselves are fun and varied and offer the ability to play with or against a partner with scalable difficulty per player.
Dance Central is the game Kinect owners came to love on the Xbox 360 and Dance Central Spotlight is a great start to something on the Xbox One. However, that is all it is: a start. The $10 price tag is like a cover to a nightclub. It gets you in the door. That door of course is a great gateway to some fun dance filled nights but it can also be a costly one. I for one am on board, and I hope this new approach to Dance Central being a platform for dancing is successful because maybe it means I can get a similar delivery platform for a new Rock Band.