Country Dance: All Stars Kinect
Good fun... Even if you're not a country fan
I picked up Country Dance All Stars (CDAS) last night for my girlfriend. She's a big fan of country music. I am the total opposite. I'm a big fan of Hip Hop, R&B, and some club songs. A good country song will catch my attention sometimes but you won't see me rolling to a country song in my car with a gangsta lean any time soon. I play a lot of Dance Central 2 and a little bit of Just Dance 3 with the kids. As usual, the first thing I did was compare CDAS to DC2. But I tempered my expectations and decided to judge it on it's own merit rather than compare it directly to the best dance game on the planet. I'll mention it because that's what I'm familiar with but won't compare it directly.
There are some areas in the menu that could be improved, like player detection when there are two players in the play area and the overly sensitive menu selections when trying to select a song, but the overall presentation is very upbeat and clean and got my gf excited (and me a little curious) to do some line dancing. We had some issues selecting songs when attempting to swipe our right hand from right to left. Many times we selected the song above or below by accident. This could probably be tweaked in a patch to lower the sensitivity of movements. But overall, the menu design is good. I do wish there was an option for controller based menu selection. After all that dancing, sometimes my arms get tired and I want to just pick up the controller to select the next song.
While dancing, the player detection was quite good. Most of the songs my gf chose were rather feminine (Carrie Underwood and Sugarland), but I was able to "man up" some of the moves. For the country men out there, there ARE some masculine dance songs and steps within every song so that's a plus. I'm really tall and she's really short but the Kinect cam did a good job of detecting our body movements and transferring those into the game. She was able to get some good scores, and as I watched, the game only gave her a "Miss" when she really messed up a move. Also, just like in DC2, when you mess up, the body part that was not moved correctly or was not in the correct placement was red in color until the next move.
We only tried a couple of CDAS game modes last night. But we dipped our imaginary country boots in the Play Now and Rehearsal modes. The first thing we tried in CDAS was the practice section called "Rehearsal". We were hoping to do this in 2 player mode but it is only for 1 player. (It seems all dance games have practice modes for only one player. Why is this?) The Rehearsal mode allows you to practice a song's routine in sections. If you feel that you did well in a section, then you can move to the next. If not, then you can go back and retry it. Quite simple and well done. The moves aren't as complex as DC2 so there is no need to practice one move at a time. CDAS is all about repetition. If you can get on the dance floor and learn the electric slide or cupid shuffle, then you can get down to this. I thought I was going to end up saying, "MAN, THIS IS WACK!!" but I was right in the living room dancing away as we took turns practicing each section.
The Play Now mode allows 1 player, 2 player competitive, and 2 player co-op. Each player can login to use their own profile. If it does not automatically detect you, you can select "Swap Blue player..." or "Swap Gold player..." to select your profile. We then selected a song and got to dancing. After rehearsing one (I forget which one that was), we were able to do a good job with it. But once we selected another song without rehearsing we still didn't do too bad. Again, the moves are not that complex and it seems the game developers focused more on fun moves rather than advanced techniques. Of course, some dance routines are harder than others (based on level of difficulty in the song selection menu) so for anyone that's looking for more difficult steps they are definitely in there.
1) I already touched on the overly sensitive menu detection above so keep that in mind.
2) Some of the moves require that you have your back to the TV. I understand it's country line dancing and it's something that I have to get used to in order to master the full routine, but there are some moments where I'm looking behind me stretching my neck to make sure I'm getting the moves right. This doesn't happen all the time or in every song though.
3) My gf and I both had issues with "mirroring" some of the moves on the screen. Mainly during routines where we had to turn sideways or backwards and kick and twist and turn. It does take some getting used. I think that's the hardest part about the game - knowing when to step/kick and when to turn. I guess this contradicts my opinion above that the moves aren't that complex. In some cases we got it down. When we did, we felt a sense accomplishment. So there is a positive.
So that's my review from a tall guy that's not a big fan of country music but likes certain dancing games and only plays manly songs in his car... ok I lied... I drove in to work this morning to Selena Gomez "Love You Like a Love Song". I am not ashamed.