The dance mat allowed for gamers to move their feet onto the corresponding pads as instructed. Available as a peripheral for the house or even in your local arcade, it was ideal for the casual games market, with titles such as Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution proving popular. However, with the ever-developing technology, the need for a dance mat was removed with the introduction of Kinect, and with it came Konami’s Dance Evolution.
Known as DanceMasters in the US, Dance Evolution is a rhythm-action game that has players dancing to music. With Kinect being advanced enough to be able to track movement of all parts of the body, the series has evolved further than simply using your feet. On-screen prompts instruct players what to do, including green silhouettes to strike a pose, orange ‘waves’ that players trace with their hands and green circles which players step into.
Initially, getting your head (and body) around the game can prove quite difficult but, with enough willpower, players will get an enjoyable experience out of it. This is greatly helped by the tutorial which, despite the poor English used, acts as a good introduction to the game, even if it is quite tedious.
Unfortunately, the technology has not been utilised to its full potential, though it has made a very good attempt. Whereas the game does pick up the majority of the dance moves used, players don’t need to accurately replicate the displayed shapes and it’s sometimes simply a case of flinging your arms around to gain a “Perfect” score - one of the four grades awarded at the end of each action - the remaining grades being either Great, Good or Boo, depending on how accurate with their timing the player is. At the end of each song, the grades are combined to give gamers an overall grade ranging from AAA to F.
Rather than having set difficulties, the dances for each song doesn’t change across the game’s difficult levels. Instead, the Light setting simply has players imitating certain poses and arm movements while the Extreme setting is fast-paced, requiring very quick reactions. Finally, Dance Evolution also contains Stealth mode, which takes away prompts and has players imitating the on-screen 3D dancer.
On some occasions, players will also be able to freestyle, allowing them to pull off their own dance moves and generally go crazy. This addition to Dance Evolution takes away the element of repetition that seems to crop up in extended plays of the game and also makes for some interesting viewing on the Live Action clip.
Also at the end of songs, players are able to save a Live Action clip of their performance, allowing players to watch their dance back. While this has become a common feature within Kinect titles, the feature does bring some comedy value to the game.
Expanding on the comedy elements, the most important part of the game, the music, is laughable. Dance Evolution contains thirty songs in total; though don’t expect them to be instantly recognisable tracks from the likes of Lady Gaga and Soulja Boy. The track list contains artists such as Naoki and The Remembers (don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either). Whereas they won’t be to everyone’s taste, they do make for enjoyable dance songs and players will develop a liking for a number of the songs over time.
The game’s main mode that players will spend the majority of their time on (mainly because it is the only game mode in the game) is Dance Mode, which can be played in single player (Solo) and with a second player (Duet). Dance Mode allows players to dance to single songs or playlists, generated by the genres R&B, Old School, Club and Pop.
In terms of development, Dance Evolution is to a mediocre standard. Graphically, the game includes immense detail on the 3D dancers, which is quite something and brings a realistic element into the arcade game. Nevertheless, the game lets itself down due to the occasional pixelation of these characters.
Overall, Dance Evolution is a great attempt at using the Kinect technology to create a rhythm-action game. Unless Konami can produce the goods with their upcoming downloadable content, the track list isn’t to the same level as its rival (Dance Central). Nonetheless, there is fun to be had from the title, despite its competitor pulling off the more spectacular result.