Dance Central Spotlight Review

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By Shaun McInnis

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You get a lot of bang for your buck on the store, but the way you have to skip past featured downloads before getting to your personal library can be a little annoying.

But there is one irksome quality to the game’s tried-and-true formula. Do well and you’ll see the screen explode in a fireworks display of light and color, with score combos and star ratings going out of their way to tell you just how hard you’re nailing it. But botch a move and all you get is a red outline on your character’s limbs–the same feedback system that’s been used since day one.

That minimalist feedback has always been nice because of how non-invasive it is, allowing you to keep having a blast even if you happen to be making a real hash of Rihanna’s latest single. But in Dance Central Spotlight, it’s a bit at odds with itself. That’s because Dance Central Spotlight’s progression system requires you to unlock new dance routines by collecting flawless performances on various dance moves. Generally speaking, this system is pretty forgiving; there are so many dance moves to collect that you never really hit a brick wall in terms of progression. But in those instances where a trickier dance move just doesn’t click with you, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re doing wrong.

Nonetheless, other improvements to the dancing experience ease the process of learning new moves. Now you can pause mid-song and jump into a quick practice mode, running through a move over and over again–even slowing it down if you prefer–until you feel comfortable with it. Once you’ve got it, you can pick up right where you left off. No need to jump out to the main menu and launch a separate practice mode.

You unlock routines by getting a “flawless” score on enough dance moves, but the scoring is pretty forgiving and the new routines come fast and often.

In fact, Dance Central Spotlight is pretty light on extraneous game modes altogether. There is a neat little fitness mode that lets you design a custom playlist of routine types, set the overall length of your dance session, and then see how many calories you’ve burned according to your height and weight. But beyond that, there’s the song store and little else.

But even without the delightfully silly story mode and assorted minigames of its predecessor, Dance Central Spotlight’s core offering still delivers a tremendous value. For a mere $10, you get an album’s worth of songs that all feature five distinct routines to learn. What’s nice is that each song you buy from the store–which run for $2 each, with some bundles offering a small discount–also offer the same generous assortment of choreographies. So whether you end up spending another $10 or $40, the library you assemble gives you plenty of ways to shake it while simultaneously reflecting your own musical tastes.

Indeed, Dance Central Spotlight feels like an admission that sometimes you just can’t be all things to all people. Rather than beef up the feature list, Harmonix has taken the opposite approach: it’s slimmed down the game, offered way more value, and removed the obstacles between you and just getting out there and dancing. It’s a different take on Dance Central, but the party is just as fun as ever.

Via: Video Game Reviews


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