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Review of Everybody Dance for Playstation Move

everybody dance for playstation fitness

Back in 2009, Ubisoft’s “Just Dance” for the Wii introduced the concept of dance games using “real dance moves”. It was a huge success, selling over 4.3 million copies. Its sequel, Just Dance 2, was even more successful, selling over 5 million copies. The game appealed to people on all kinds of levels. Individuals could play it to learn real dance moves and get a great workout. Families and friends could play it together and have a ton of fun with the choreographed routines.

A year later in 2010, Microsoft introduced “Dance Central” for the Xbox. It brought to the table accurate full-body motion tracking of the Kinect and sold 2.5 million copies.

For all this time, the Playstation has been left out in the cold a bit. Singstar Dance was an early attempt to cash in on the “real dance move” craze, but at the end of the day it was a karaoke title with dancing spliced in as an afterthought.

Everybody Dance is Sony Computer Entertainment’s long-overdue dive into the genre. And it’s a pretty good one.

The game starts out with a rather superfluous video of random people in different places dancing with a Playstation Move controller in their hands. The next step is pointing the flashing motion controller at the Playstation Eye and pressing the Move button to calibrate the control. As with Just Dance, only one controller per player is used, which you hold in your right hand. The system supports a maximum of two players.

You have a couple menu options:

Dance Now: Here, you can dive right into one of the 40 songs that the game comes with by selecting an album cover using your Move controller. Each song has an “energy level” indicator from 1 to 3. The songs are:

– Amerie – 1 Thing (2)
– Barry White – You’re the First, The Last, My Everything (1)
– Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At (3)
– Billy Idol with Generation – Dancing with Myself (3)
– Bodyrockers – I Like The Way (2)
– Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting (1)
– CeCe Peniston – Finally (1)
– The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl (2)
– Chromeo – Night By Night (2)
– Dam-Funk – Hood Pass Intact (1)
– Deadmau5 – Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff feat. Bob Swire (2)
– Diana Ross – Upside Down (2)
– Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand (2)
– Elle Goulding – Starry Eyed (1)
– Elton John – I’m Still Standing (3)
– Fatboy Slim – Praise You (2)
– Groove Armada – Superstylin’ (2)
– Ida Corr Vs Fedde Le Grand – Let Me Think About It (1)
– Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne – Down (1)
– Kool and the Gang – Get Down On It (1)
– Lady GaGa – Born This Way (3)
– LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem (2)
– M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up the Volume (3)
– Miami Sound Machine – Dr Beat (3)
– New Kids on the Block – You Got It (The Right Stuff) (2)
– Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath (1)
– Ok Go – Here It Goes Again (3)
– OutKast – The Way You Move (1)
– Puretone – Addicted to Bass (2)
– Raphael Saadiq – Radio (2)
– Republica – Ready to Go (3)
– Rihanna – Rude Boy (1)
– R. Kelly – Step In The Name Of Love (1)
– SNAP! – The Power (3)
– Sublime – Santeria (1)
– Tiesto v Diplo feat Busta Rhymes – C’mon (Catch ‘Em By Surprise) (3)
– Tinie Tempah – Pass Out (1)
– Usher featuring Pitbull – DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (2)
– Usher featuring will.i.am – OMG (1)
– Willow – Whip My Hair (2)

Overall, I’d say the artist selection is “hipper” and less mainstream than Just Dance or Dance Central, the kind of set list you might see from a DJ in a club. This may be an advantage or a drawback depending on your musical tastes, but I found at least 7 songs that were familiar right away.

Once you select a song, you can choose one of three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional. I’d say Beginner and Intermediate are about the difficulty of a typical song on Just Dance, with relatively simple and repetitive motions from side to side. Professional, on the other hand, rivals a professional dancer where you’ll be doing the same basic moves, but adding complex movements, spins, jumps, and more intricate choreography. Here’s a video of me dancing in Professional level to Republica’s Ready to Go (I’m dressed in the same Ninja outfit I designed for Kung Fu Live to cover my face on account of me being so bashful!)

Finally, you can select a length. “Normal” songs range around 3-5 minutes, while “Short” versions last about 1-2 minutes. You then take a picture of yourself, which will be used to identify you in replays and any saved copies of your performance.

Gameplay itself is fairly simple. As with all the other dance games, your goal is to match the on-screen dancer as closely as possible by mirroring his or her moves. While Just Dance has a silhouette to follow and Dance Central uses a hipster doofus cartoon character, Everybody Dance displays a real video image of a human dancer which I personally prefer, as you can see the precise moves to follow.

The on-screen dancer’s image is in a grey color so it stands out yet doesn’t interfere with the background. He or she is holding a Move Controller, so you know exactly where your right hand needs to be at any given time to score point. The choreography is distinctly in the style of the song’s artist, and in many cases, the moves mimic the same ones the artists perform in their video. The on-screen character even look and is dressed like the original artist.

As with Just Dance, the more accurate your moves are, the more points you’ll rack up and are awarded one to five stars at the end. As with Dance Dance Revolution, you’ll also be rewarded for “streaks” of contiguous successful moves. You hold the Move controller in your right hand through the whole song. As with Just Dance, if you stand still and just wave your arms in the right way, you’ll be able to rack up points. But of course, the fun in this game isn’t in collecting points, it’s in performing the real dance moves.

As much as the game is derivative of previous dance games, there are a couple features in Everybody Dance that are truly innovative. While you’re playing the game, you can watch the original artist’s video playing in a rectangle in the background. Press the “triangle” button and the image in the rectangle switches to a live video image of you. You’ll even see a “trail of light” that shows your Move controller’s motion. This feature is extremely useful when you’re learning the dance moves, as you can compare your image to the on-screen character’s moves one to one.

Once the dance is over, you’ll see your point total, number of stars, and longest streak. You’ll also be able to view a 30 second video clip of your performance, as well as 10 snapshots that were taken during the performance of you in various poses. You have the option of saving them to the PS3 hard drive or posting them to Facebook or Twitter (and to the PS3 Community). Here’s some free advice: be VERY careful about using this feature if you happen to be dancing in your skivvies, unless you want to be the next Internet sensation.

By default, you dance in solo mode until a second player turns on their Move Controller. Once that’s done, the menu changes to “Battle Mode”, where  you can compete against each other in all the songs in Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional levels. Alternatively, you can also dance as “Dance Partners”, where each player gets his or her own unique choreographed moves. Bear in mind that for two players, you need at least 8-10 feet of space in front of the Playstation Eye so that both of you fit comfortably in the picture.

“Party” mode is another pretty cool innovation. It starts off by asking you to take pictures of each person who’s participating, from 2 up to 20 people. Then, it’ll pair two competitors at a time to a dance-off. The two selected dancers can choose a song, difficulty level, and song length to compete to. The rounds keep going until you stop, at which time you’ll be shown the overall winner (based on number of songs won, awards won, and longest streaks), rankings, and the biggest rival.

The “Dance Studio” menu offers three options: Dance Creator, Dance Class, and Dance Workout.

Dance Creator lets you record and play your own routines, either solo or with a partner. You’re shown a full-screen image of yourself (with the music video playing in the corner) and you basically record yourself dancing. You record an “album cover” by taking a snapshot of yourself, and then you can then play your (or others’) routines from the Dance Now, Party, or Dance Creator menus. As with any other song, you can play custom routines either with the original music video or your live video image playing next to the recorded image.

“Dance Class” is a great way to learn the dance moves, highly recommended for the “Professional” difficulty level. The system will break down the song into short sections of about 30 seconds each, and you loop through each section 4 times. Once you’ve mastered each section you’ll get a star, after which you can move on to the next section. Surprisingly, it took me only one or two times going through each section to master it for most songs, even at professional level. Here’s me learning the first few bars of “Kung Fu Fighting”. Note my gradual transition from neophyte to kung fu master!

With “Dance Workout”, you start out by setting up a new profile. You take your picture and set your weight using the Move Controller (a painful process the more pounds over 130 you are!). Then, you select a pre-defined workout which consists of similar songs bundled together at different difficulty levels. Here’s the “Charts Cardio” intermediate workout which includes Snap, Lady GaGa, and Tinie Tempa:

Each workout consists of 3 songs and lasts about 10 minutes (Professional+ workouts consist of 5 songs and last 15-20 minutes).

Beginner: Party Warm Up
Beginner: Pop Cool Down
Beginner: Retro Recreational
Beginner: Tune Up
Intermediate: Charts Cardio
Intermediate: Hot House Melodies
Intermediate: R&Burn
Intermediate: Sensual Session
Professional: Constantly Shuffling
Professional: Dance Drills
Professional: Fat Burning Beats
Professional+: DJ Got Us Sweatin
Professional+: Fat Fighters
Professional+: High Energy Exercise Professional+: Ultra Endurance Tunes

As you work out, a calorie meter is displayed on top of the screen showing you the target calories for each song. As long as you match the hand movements, you’ll get credit for the calories, but of course to get a true workout you need to be “honest” and really do all the motions you’re asked to do with your whole body.

“Get More Songs”: This option will quit the game and take you to the Playstation Store to download additional DLC. As of this writing (October 21, 2011) there were no songs available yet, but expect that to change very soon.

“Galleries”: This is where you can go to visit all your past saved performances, either ones you saved to your hard drive or uploaded. You can also visit the “Community Gallery” which shows the 30-second videos and photos that others around the world have uploaded. You can vote for videos you like which will  help them rise in popularity.

As of this writing the game has only been out for a few days, and yet there are already hundreds of videos out there, a few surprisingly good, most not quite ready for prime time just yet, and almost all with inadequate lighting. Some other observations: people generally seem surprisingly sober and clothed (probably because there’s a “report inappropriate videos” feature), men seem to outnumber women by a large margin, and grown men should really think twice before uploading a video of themselves dancing to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”.

You have the option of turning “singing” on and off. If you turn singing on, you can sing into the Playstation Eye microphone, or into a USB microphone or wireless headset. After each song you’ll get a “singing rating”, but otherwise there’s really no benefit, your singing isn’t recorded or anything.

Everybody Dance is an interesting game to rate, mainly because it naturally leads to comparisons with the games that came before it. I’d say from a “pure fun” perspective, Just Dance holds the crown. From a “motion detection accuracy” perspective, Dance Central’s full body tracking is arguably superior for games like these.

Having said that, Everybody Dance still does both of these things quite well. And the innovations that Sony brought to the table, including more advanced choreography that truly matches the original artist’s style, the community features, the accuracy of the “Dance Creator” (which is definitely superior to the same feature on Just Dance for the Kinect), and the ability to dance side-by-side with the on-screen character all catapult Everybody Dance into the same echelon as those other games, and of course is easily the best dancing game available for the Playstation Move right now. I’ll give it an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.




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