Why I’m interested in The Hip Hop Dance Experience

(I wrote this a few days ago, initially for this blog because I thought it was too silly, then half-way through decided “Yes I WILL submit this to GamerCheese”. However they haven’t posted it, possibly because it’s too silly and the game hits in two days so…)

EDIT: GamerCheese just posted it here:


It’s no secret that I love music games. It’s also no secret that dancing games are the one thing the Kinect can do well. So you would think I would be all over the deluge of dancing game available, right?

Well the problem is that they all have crappy interfaces. Yes, even Dance Central. Full body dancing games are a new frontier and it is difficult to tell players what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, and with adequate warning, as well as what they did wrong. I’ll go into detail about this at a later date, but suffice to say, Dance Central didn’t get this right. Oh they nailed it on telling you what you were doing wrong! Lighting up the out-of-sync bodyparts was a brilliant idea! But that was it. The two silhouettes that represent each dance move don’t really tell you what to do ahead of time and the commands scroll at an awkward rate with little warning. Basically the only way to play a song in Dance Central is to memorize the dance steps first and it’s really hard to get excited about a lengthy tutorial for each song you want to do.

What makes this worse is that every two-bit bargain basement dancing game then copies Dance Central and thus has the same problems. Still, you would think that after 3 installments these issues would be addressed. However, Harmonix seems satisfied to rest on their laurels. Dance Central is the best dancing game on the market, so what do they have to worry about?

Well when GEL, Mr.”I’ll even try We Cheer!”, doesn’t want to play your games, I think there’s a problem. I’ve tried the demos for Dance Central 2 and 3 and absolutely cannot convince myself to buy the games. There just…doesn’t seem like much of a point. It’s just more of the same.

But you know what I did like? The Black Eyed Peas Experience on Kinect. Not because of The Black Eyed Peas, I’m pretty indifferent towards them, but because of iNiS. Yes, the fine folks that made Elite Beat Agents and Gitaroo Man worked on the Kinect version of the game. The result was a strange and flashy dancing game that got a lot more right than its competitors. The interface used animated silhouettes to represent each dance move and had a clear countdown timer to when it would switch moves.

Whats more, it’s the only Kinect dancing game with custom characters and this adds a lot to the game. How? Well it means that the game can reward you for doing well with new clothing and customization options, thus giving you a reason to play beyond “I feel like dancing”. This became even more important as they actually worked learning the dance steps into the game as stages of their own. Stages which contributed to you earning more stuff.

The only problem, aside from The Black Eyed Peas being a very polarizing group, was the fact that the game didn’t tell you what you were doing wrong. Yes, the one thing Dance Central did well was the one thing The Black Eyed Peas Experience did wrong. If only there were a way to combine the two.

Well, Dance Central 3 sure didn’t do that. It’s more of the same, but now with a time travel gimmick, some new modes, and a story. While these are significant additions, it doesn’t address my major problem with the game: the poor interface.

But, much to my surprise, The Black Eyed Peas Experience was getting a Pea-less sequel with The Hip Hop Dance Experience once again from iNiS!

Custom characters return (including quite a few hairstyles and outfits from the previous game) and the dancing silhouettes, countdown timer, and general interface remain. But what’s this? Not only are there new modes, but the out-of-sync body parts are highlighted in red just like Dance Central! Why, the game even tracks what dance moves you are worst at and encourages you to get better at them! It looks like we may have a contender for the best dancing game on Kinect!

That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns. The presentation isn’t nearly as insane as The BEP Experience’s and I don’t see the “Trainer Battles” that teach you the dance steps. But I gotta be honest, this looks like a contender. Better still, it’s only $40!

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One Comment on “Why I’m interested in The Hip Hop Dance Experience”

  1. Fabianeo Says:

    Aside from the differences, Dance Central 2 and 3 actually suggest moves you should work on after you perform the song. There aren’t too many different things. Albeit character customization is pretty cool. That it. You also forgot that DAnceCEntral 2 3 not only highlights what you are doing wrong but you can record youself to see what you are doing wrong.

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