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From the $20 bargain shelves: DanceMasters for Kinect, Nickelodeon Fit for Wii, and more

Kinect games marked down at Target

Many of the $50-60 games that launched last year with Kinect are now being cut to the $20-or-less level.  Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout and Sonic Free Riders, both of which got moderately good reviews, are now at Big Lots for under $20.  Yesterday I noticed that Target has those titles as well as DanceMasters and Game Party for Kinect.

Game Party got poor reviews, but I really like DanceMasters.  It got upstaged by Dance Central in both reviews and sales, but I think it’s kind of an apples-and-oranges difference.  While DC is a very Western club dancing style with American hit songs, DM is more of a stagy, performance “Japanese hip-hop jazz” dancing style with more intricate choreography, plus it puts YOU right up on the stage next to the performers.  Anyone who likes DDR music (which makes up DM’s soundtrack) and enjoys watching Emi and the other DDR dancers, ought to give DanceMasters a try at this price.

Also on Target’s $20 shelves, which occupied a good section of wall, is Nickelodeon Fit for Wii.  This exergame for kids has gotten good reviews at Amazon, with many parents saying that it offers enough intensity for grownups to enjoy doing it along with their tots.  It was launched at a pricy $40, but now that it’s been cut 50%, maybe more families will give it a try and hopefully be pleasantly surprised like I was with Kidz Bop Dance Party.

Salute to summer on Kinect and Dance Masters

Here is a video of a classic DDR pop tune, My Summer Love, on Dance Masters.  Since this is one of the hidden or locked songs, I probably won’t be able to unlock it on my 4gb Xbox 360, so thanks to YouTube for letting me enjoy it.  Welcome, Summer of ’11!

Dance Masters for Kinect demo is available, for Xbox Live Gold

If you have Xbox Live Gold (a free one-month membership came with my console) and Kinect, now you can download a demo of Dance Masters.  This is the “other” dance game for Kinect.  Dance Central has gotten most of the attention and sales, and the demo I played from the Kinect Adventures disc was lots of fun, but when I heard about Dance Masters, that was the one I wanted.  And I don’t regret it.

Dance Masters is to Dance Central what DDR is to Just Dance.  Just Dance (for Wii) and Dance Central (for Xbox 360 Kinect) are fun, casual games your whole family will enjoy, loaded with familiar hit songs.  But Dance Masters, which is on Kinect only,  is more of a “gamer’s” dance game.  Rather than club-style dancing, the dances are more like a stage performance, and the Kinect is your electronic Carrie/Len/Bruno, judging whether you hit those moves just right.

In lieu of scrolling arrows like DDR, DM has an interesting set of “marks” to hit.  A green silhouette will sometimes scroll in from the side, and you have to hit that pose right as it reaches the center of the screen (like in the TV show Hole In The Wall).  There are also round bullseye targets that you have to hit with either your hands or feet, We Cheer-like arm lines, and a green circle on the “floor” to be stepped on to the beat.  The choreography is the same for each song on all difficulties, but the number of marks increases on each difficulty.  Thus you can get away with just a series of poses on “easy”, but once you get to “extreme” or “master”, you pretty much have to have the dance down pat as marks come flying from all directions.

For extra fun (or embarrassment), DM puts you right up on stage with the dancers!  You can even “clone” yourself by projecting a video of yourself on a previous dance along with your live image.  Multiplayer puts both players up on the stage, and DM (unlike DC) offers online play as well.

The Dance Masters demo includes both solo and duet versions of three songs:  A Geisha’s Dream, Unity and We Can Win the Fight.  These aren’t “hits” like Dance Central or Just Dance offer; they’re original, Jpop-style songs that only DDR fans will be familiar with.  I love the choreography of DM, but A Geisha’s Dream is a particular favorite, and not that hard to do.  Here’s a gameplay video:

No, I’m not posting a video of myself doing it, sorry!

Dance Masters trailer: gotta get up to get down

There is now a trailer for the upcoming Dance Masters game for Xbox 360 Kinect:

Read the rest of this entry

Dance, dance, dance – yowza, yowza, yowza

So many dance games were announced in just the past 3 days, I can hardly see straight anymore.  There’s even a new DDR in there somewhere.  Let’s see where we’re at…

First there are the two dance games that will launch along with the Xbox Kinect add-on in November, Dance Central and Dance Masters.  DC is from the maker of Rock Band and DM is from the maker of DDR.  DC appears to follow the Just Dance model (why mess with success?) where you dance along with scrolling cues and score according to how well you keep up with the beat.  The game will track your calories burned, and promises pop hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, No Doubt and Bell Biv Devoe.

Dance Masters looks more like a cross between Eye Toy Groove and We Cheer.  This game actually puts you up on the screen as a backup dancer, and you follow a green silhouette and occasionally trace lines with your arms a la We Cheer.  DM is going to have a DDR/Walk It Out-ish soundtrack, as in Japanese pop, original instrumentals and maybe some licenses if we’re lucky.

DC is already up on Amazon, for a steep $60.  Like Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band, the consumer’s choice may come down to the music.  Here’s a hand’s-on with video of Dance Central, and here’s the same for Dance Masters; I’m leaning toward the latter, unless a new We Cheer comes out.

Just Dance 2 was also announced, to no one’s surprise.  The sequel appears to be more of the same, with 40 songs and a new Just Sweat mode.  It’s going to stay on Wii only – that’s a relief!  Ubisoft also sprang a surprise that had been rumored for the past year:  they are working on a Michael Jackson dance/karaoke game for all platforms, including the PS3.  The PS3 announcement of their Wiimote-like Move controllers was kind of anticlimactic after Kinect, but they too will have a dance game, SingStar Dance.

Finally, lost in much of the excitement was an announcement of another DDR game for Wii.  No word on if it will be Hottest Party 4, or if it will have doubles.

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