With the Just Dance and Dance Central series tearing up the Wii and Xbox 360 respectively, Sony was bound to follow suit for the Playstation Move sooner or later. Dancestar Party marks the attempt by Sony London to get involved in the motion controlled dancing craze but, whilst Dancestar Party offers a feature rich package, the song list is a significant let down in comparison to other competing dance games.
If you’ve ever played a motion controlled dance title, you’ll know exactly what to expect in Dancestar Party. You hold the Move wand in your right hand and mimic an on-screen figure’s dance moves. Accuracy and good timing nets you points, which in turn tally up to a star rating at the end of the song. The mechanics offer nothing new, but are robust and enjoyable enough with the Move offering a precise method of motion controlled input. My attempts to just fling my arms randomly for points were generally ignored, meaning it must have known I was going wrong at some point, an accolade I’m somewhat reticent to award to other titles in the genre.
The main string to Dance Central’s bow is its large amount of features and modes. There are a fair few songs to contend with, with each offering three difficulty levels and a choice of a full length or shortened routine. The tertiary difficulty system offers more than just point modifiers, with each routine differing greatly in terms of technical complexity and energy. It’s nice to see so much effort put in to offer accessibility and challenge where required, but it must be noted that many of the easy routines are often very dull in comparison to their more difficult counterparts. This is to be expected to a degree, but it would have been nice if the easy routines could have been a bit more varied and dynamic.
Routines can be tackled solo or with a partner for a specially choreographed duet version of each track, and multiplayer modes offer 2v2 shenanigans for up to twenty players. It might have been nice if such a round robin mode could be done with solo players, as there are plenty of people who don’t have the multiple Move wands required to use the multiplayer features. If you’re lucky enough to meet the hardware criteria, then Dance Central offers a suitably jolly and humorous multiplayer mode with the right company.
For those interested in other forms of competing, you can record custom dance routines to the game’s tracks and then have others compete against them later. This does mean the prompts for dance moves don’t show up as they do for the pre-set routines, but the motion control remains uniformly accurate, even on extremely bizarre creations. Speaking of recording, the Playstation Eye records various video and picture highlights as you compete in all games modes, making for some amusing viewing after. You can even upload these highlights directly to Facebook and Twitter, or to the Dance Central servers where the community can view and rate your efforts. You can even opt to sing along and get scored on your vocals as well, with a choice of using a USB mic/headset or the built in microphone on the Playstation Eye carrying your questionable melodies. The built in mic proved inaccurate during our testing unless you really belt the songs out, so alternate equipment is highly recommended for those with quiet voices. Regardless of this minor technical fault, it’s a fun addition that is unique to Dancestar Party.
Whilst the core gameplay of Dancestar Party is strong, the songs it is built around are lacking. There are certainly enough tracks, but there is a distinctive style of track that is catered for largely in the set list that won’t make it appealing to everyone. Whilst other competing dance titles offer more modern dance and hip-hop tracks along with the cheesier oldies, Dancestar Party offers almost exclusively contemporary music. This isn’t going to be a deal breaker for those who enjoy the music of this generation, but there is a distinct lack of variety in comparison to the more widespread tracks in the Just Dance series. The available DLC can make up for this with some great classics already being available, but if you want some 80’s cheese available on disc, you may be disappointed. 40 tracks is a decent number, but with Kung Fu Fighting being the only pre-90s track on disc, it isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. This is of course a highly subjective matter, so feel free to ignore this particular criticism if you really can’t get enough Lady Gaga in your life. For those hoping for more of a choice than this, beware.
The other big issue with Dancestar Party is its severe lack of identity. It seems like an odd thing to criticise but, in comparison to the slick visuals in Dance Central and the cheeky neon style of Just Dance, Dancestar Party seems very bland. The on-screen dancers are various real life people captured on video, and the backgrounds are just the accompanying music videos to each track. It’s very functional, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with what they’ve gone for, but in adopting this unassuming visual style, Dancestar Party seems to lack the flair of its competitors.
Overall, Dancestar party is a highly functional dance title that effectively uses the Playstation Move controller. What it lacks in track variety it makes up for with diverse features, but the lack of an identifying visual direction makes the package feel somewhat tackier than the competition. If you only have a PS3 and want a fun dancing game, then this will serve you well. If you hate modern music and have other consoles available, then it’s likely that you’ll be better served by the Dance Central or Just Dance series.
The full track list for Dancestar Party is:
Amerie 1 Thing
Barry White You’re The First, The Last, My Everything
Basement Jaxx Where’s Your Head At
Billy Idol with Generation X Dancing with Myself
Bodyrockers I Like The Way
Carl Douglas Kung Fu Fighting
CeCe Peniston Finally
Chromeo Night By Night
Deadmau5 Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff (feat. Rob Swire)
Diana Ross Upside Down
Duck Sauce Barbra Streisand
Ellie Goulding Starry Eyed
Elton John I’m Still Standing
Groove Armada feat. Gram’ma Funk I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim mix)
Ida Corr Vs Fedde Le Grand Let Me Think About It
Iggy Pop Lust For Life
Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne Down
Jessie J Do It Like A Dude
Kool And The Gang Get Down On It
Lady Gaga Born This Way
LMFAO Party Rock Anthem
Los Del Rio Macarena
Miami Sound Machine Dr Beat
New Kids On The Block You Got It (The Right Stuff)
Nicole Scherzinger Don’t Hold Your Breath
Ok Go Here It Goes Again
OutKast The Way You Move
Republica Ready To Go
Rihanna Rude Boy
SNAP! The Power
Tavares Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
The Chemical Brothers Hey Boy Hey Girl
Tiesto v Diplo feat Busta Rhymes C’mon (Catch ‘Em By Surprise)
Tinie Tempah Pass Out
Usher featuring Pitbull DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love
Usher featuring will.i.am OMG
Vengaboys We Like To Party
Willow Whip My Hair
Yolanda Be Cool vs D Cup We No Speak Americano
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Captures photo and video highlights of your dances, Good motion detection, Different difficulties offer new routines, Can view other players' videos, Offers a range of modes
Uninspired visual direction, Song list lacks variety, Some dance routines are dull, Lack character
A halfway house between the jovial Just Dance and more serious Dance Central, Dancestar Party offers a fairly standard motion controlled dance 'em up for the PS3 that has its rich features hampered by a poor track list