Budget games tend to make me a little skeptical. Usually when there’s a hot trend in gaming it doesn’t take long for cheaper copycats to appear, trying to look the same and appeal to the price-conscious consumer. Let’s Dance fits that mold – it’s a budget title that offers a stripped-down version of the experience you would have with genre leaders like Dance Central or Just Dance. For the price, the single player experience is solid, but the multiplayer flaws and annoying design issues will keep it on the sidelines when you’re picking a dance partner.
The object of the game is simple; pick a song and dance, scoring points and being rated based on how well you perform the moves. You’re projected on the screen as part of a five person dance group, with the objective to mirror the lead dancer. At the top of the screen you can see outlines of the current and upcoming moves. Like any other dance game your first couple of tries through a song will be rough, as you get an idea of what the moves are for that song.
The motion detection in the single player game was solid, although the game was being a fairly generous when rating my moves. Being able to see myself on the screen was helpful, because I could directly compare myself to the lead. It’s not as good as Dance Central, which gives direct feedback on which parts of your body are not matching the moves, but it works.
In a single player game you can either dance to one song or choose survival mode, where you have multiple lives and will keep dancing to different songs until you lose all of your lives by underperforming. When dancing to one song you have the option to play the full song or a shorter version, but that’s the extent of the options. Each song in Let’s Dance has an overall difficulty rating, but, unlike other games, songs do not have multiple difficulty settings, reducing the replay value.
When playing with others you can choose a straightforward two player game, or opt for party or team modes if you’re playing with several people. The game only supports two players dancing at once, so party and team games become a series of one on one dance competitions adding to a total score. In two player games the motion recognition was so relaxed that we were both getting credit as long as we did something vaguely resembling the move on screen. In fact, the only way I failed moves was if I stopped moving entirely. We also found that while navigating menus the game couldn’t tell us apart, which probably explains why the motion tracking had to be so loose.
Let’s Dance is hosted by Mel B., formerly of the Spice girls. Mel appears throughout the menus, talking you through and adding occasional commentary. At the end of a song she’ll present you with three pictures taken during your dance, and offer her opinion. What’s interesting about Mel’s appearance is that it isn’t mentioned anywhere on the game’s case, even though the game contains a song which features her (Wannabe by Spice Girls). I couldn’t help but find it odd that they paid a celebrity to be in the game and then didn’t market it at all, choosing instead to have pretty generic cover art.
The most memorable thing about Mel’s appearance in the game is her physical appearance; she hosts in a black cocktail dress that shows plenty of cleavage. While I’m not some sort of crazy anti-boob nut, it’s out of place in a game that’s most likely to be played by younger gamers. Most of the dances are fine but some feature moves that seem like they came straight from the gentleman’s club. While each parent needs to decide what is and isn’t appropriate for their own children, as someone with a nine year old girl, I wasn’t happy with some of what I was seeing when she played.
Those who do play the game will have to deal with some annoying design elements. When I first started the game I had to choose my storage device, pick a profile, turn on a controller to type in my name, and then choose a storage device again. Every time after that was the same, minus the name entering. The game wants to take a picture of each player, and it can’t be skipped, which makes games with several players a trial to set up.
As a single player dance game, Let’s Dance fares decently, but the multiplayer won’t satisfy anyone other than young kids, whom you might not want playing it. My overprotective parent issues aside, the game is simply too late. When the Dance Central games were selling at full retail price there might have been space for a budget offering, but both of those games are now available at or near the same price as Let’s Dance, and at that point there’s no contest. With poor motion detection, fewer options and clumsier design, Let’s Dance doesn’t keep time with the competition.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.