Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: March 27, 2012
MSRP: USD $39.99
One thing that the Kinect has done great for the most part is limit the amount of shovelware since its release. Kinect Game Party 15 with the heading “NOW WITH 15,000 MINI GAMES” wouldn’t have pushed the success of the Kinect as far as it actually has. Which means games that include the name “party” in the title won’t necessarily be found haunting the shelves or value bins at your local game store and share the Kinect logo.
There have also been quite a few Kinect games that made full use of its abilities and create an immersive feel to the game. The Kinect, like the Wii remote and PS Move, offers motion control, but the majority of the time it is done where the controller or additional accessory is not needed. Although Microsoft has done great things to limit the amount of dummy software out there, it doesn’t mean that the plan was foolproof.
Country Dance All Stars is derived from the previous Nintendo Wii releases. The best songs from these titles were brought over to the Xbox 360 to utilize the Kinect’s motion controls instead of holding a remote to mimic the moves. This was done effortlessly by Harmonix with Dance Central and Ubisoft with the Just Dance series. The basic modes of Country Dance All Stars follow similar suit.
Two players can join in the main screen and it’s off to the boot scootin’. This was a little bit of a letdown as Dance Central 2 allows for players to jump right in and go from there. Other than the ‘Normal’stages, players can run through a few others.
Selecting the ‘Freeze’ style game will stop players mid dance and keeps you frozen until you mirror the character and then the song moves on. This was abrupt at times, but it did offer a little bit different approach to mixing it up in a dance title.
The ‘Perfection’ mode is one of the most precise one of the game. This is where you will have to nail each move just as you see it on screen. Give yourself a little space to work out the kinks because, when they say perfect, they mean P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
The other mode is for all of you struggling to nail the steps–this includes me. In the ‘Rehearsal’ area, players can take their time to brush up on moves, figure out some new ones, or just simply learn what rhythm is. Each song is broken down to give examples of each step that is included in the track. This was actually one of my favorites to play, even if it was just for practice. It gave me time to learn each separate dance in sections instead all at once on screen.
With Country Dance All Stars being a dance oriented title, it is almost impossible not to compare it to others out there. This is especially the case when it comes to how the moves are delivered.
I know it’s hard to teach a person something new, especially when it comes to dancing. The games utilized on screen motion prompts and players must look over and follow these to score big. The prompts slide into the screen and players must mimic the dance moves shown on the card and from the dancer. Got it? Most others do this relatively smoothly, however, the speed and icons depicting each move were confusing unless you take the time to go through and rehearse. For the game being a pick up and go title, it did have quite a learning curve.
The swift transitions through moves wasn’t the only difficult part to get used to. Instead of a career type playthrough, the game drops dancers right into the midst of songs and pretty much leaves it at that. Each song has a difficulty setting and is not adjustable. Players who are new to the game must pick and choose songs that are in their difficulty range. This should have come standard as an adjustment that any player could make.
This also brings us to the responsiveness of Country Dance All Stars. The game itself is a lot more lenient then other dance games out there, but I think this was primarily to counter the difficulty settings. It hurts the game more than helps, particularly since it’s geared towards families who are probably playing with kids. Not everyone is a great dancer nor will everyone be at the same difficulty level based on knowledge of how the sensor works.
Some of the other noticeable flaws of the game are in the design itself. It seems as though the game chugged along during most sequences; dancers even became laggy as it struggled to continue on. It felt more of a port of the same character models rather than a game that was built specifically for the Xbox 360.
With all of these complaints, I must have some sort of suggestions, right? Yes.
1. More than a game
Something that Country Dance has going for it is that it is the only Country Dance game out there. I was truly excited about the songs that were on the lineup. I knew approximately 95 percent of the songs that were on the list and I’m not at all afraid to admit that. High Voltage should have capitalized on this with some of the Kinect’s abilities. It could have been little things like clapping in Little Big Town’s “Little White Church”, or even brought on a yeehaw or two—something more than boasting the Country Hits that you moderately have to mimic to pass a level.
2. Gone Country
As stated before, the game is something unique to the genre: it’s a country dance game. There could have easily been an incorporated version teaching new players how to dance like a cowboy. I would have even enjoyed a tutorial teaching me how to line dance, something outside the box. Instead, a choppy tutorial with songs that are great to sing along with, but terrible to dance to.
3. Al La Mode
Something that I was disappointed in was the lack of game types. Sure, it has got a Freeze, Perfection and Rehearsal; these are simple and get the job done, but disconnect between these and a players progress. Even after completing numerous rounds of each of these, I was expecting some sort of breakdown of performance or a tally of best performed song—something. Instead, it just finishes up without any recollection of me just blowing through five rounds of tearing up that dance floor. I wouldn’t say tearing it up, but you get the picture.
Speaking honestly, Country Dance All Stars had a lot going for it. For starters, it is the only country dance song to my knowledge on the market. It should be blowing its competitors out of the water. The sad part is the only competitor out there is the Country Dance franchise and it didn’t become victorious on the Kinect.
The songs of the game are great. It was quite a shame that they are not that great to dance to. The games difficulty varies by song and isn’t something you can adjust by song, but rather by choosing another song. The only other modes of the game are brief and not fulfilling to the least.
Some might find enjoyment in the spread of hits the game has in store, which was something great to sing along with. The game offers a few modes, but there isn’t much to shake a stick at. I thought by the end I’d be steppin’ like a cat on a hot tin roof, but I dropped it quicker than a bare hand on a hot skillet.
+ Great song list
– Difficulty settings
– Replay value