Dance Central 3 Review

Rating: T
Genre: Music, Rhythm, Exercise
Publisher: Harmonix Music Systems/ MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems/ Backbone Entertainment
Release Date: October 16, 2012


I have an affinity for dancing games. As a dancer myself, I love the idea of playing games and earning trophies while dancing, laughing at myself, and even getting a little exercise. I loved Dance Central 2 (it was one of my first Kinect games), so when Dance Central 3 was announced, I knew it was a game I was going to have to play.

Dance Central 3 is the next installment in the Harmonix Music Systems Kinect dance series. Like the first two, Dance Central 3 uses Kinect technology to track your body movements as you follow a series of dance moves demonstrated by a dancer on screen as well as pictured along the side of the screen. You can earn up to five stars on your boombox each song, and the more accurate your movements, the higher your score – get a few flawless ratings in a row, and you will earn multipliers. Go for the highest score you can!

There are several returning play modes, such as Party mode and Fitness mode, as well as a few newcomers, including the Crew Throwdown mode and the  Story mode. Party and Fitness modes are welcome returning inclusions, both providing different ways to play and diversifying the reach the game can have. Battle mode also returns, allowing you to battle against your closest friends and most evil of adversaries.

New to the franchise is the Crew Throwdown mode, which allows up to eight people in two teams to go head to head in various dance battles and performances. For those who enjoy an even bigger challenge and have a competitive nature, there are also Throwdown mini-games to challenge the other team. The “Keep the Beat” mini-game challenges you to track the rhythm of the music. The “Make Your Move” mini-game lets your creative side shine, which has you compete by making up your own dance moves on the fly. 

Also new is the highly anticipated Story mode. The addition of a story mode in a dancing game had all the possibilities of being a complete failure if not done correctly, and many people were dubious as to how it would relate to the general atmosphere of the dancing genre. Harmonix attacked this incredibly well by creating a fun, short and cheesy storyline about time travel and an evil Doctor who wants to use mind control to create a dance party that never ends. You become a member of Dance Central Intelligence (DCI), and go back through the decades to master pivotal dance crazes. It’s incredibly campy in a great way – anything serious would ruin the party vibe of the game in general.

The song selection is diverse and still current enough to allow any generation to enjoy it. Personally I am not a fan of a lot of the new popular music, so the fact that there are a lot of amazing tracks from the 80s, 90s and the 2000s that I can really rock out to balances the more current music for those who are into that as well. The downloadable content has the same appeal and diversity as what’s included on the disc. I squealed in delight when I noticed both Naughty by Nature and A Tribe Called Quest had downloadable selections. They were instant purchases.

One of the more impressive details is the dance styles that are included in each decade. My husband is a B-Boy and I am a hip hop dancer, and so we typically end up cringing at the dance moves in mainstream movies and video games. However, Dance Central 3 has done a fantastic job in both matching dance moves to the right decade and doing them correctly (as much as can be expected in a Kinect game, anyway). The examples of popping and old school in the 80s versus the new school and party dances of the 90s is pretty true to what was current at the time – considering that some concessions were made for the functionality of the Kinect technology. A few times I was reminded of real hip hop dance moves like the Biz Markie and the Jerk popular during the 80s and the 90s.

The Kinect responds well considering how fast you are moving and the complexity of the dance steps. I found that only in a few situations it was unresponsive to my movements, and in a couple occasions it worked out in my advantage. With a little practice, you’ll be able to master the moves, hit the flawless ratings, and not look silly doing it.

The ability to import songs from your previous Dance Central games is a great feature, but at 400 Microsoft points per import, the cost to do so almost doesn’t make it worth it. The lack of an online multiplayer mode is also a miss yet again, something that was unavailable in the previous versions as well. In the current gaming world, many of us have friends in other cities, states and countries who are more willing to play online than those down the street, and being unable to connect with them in a battle mode is an unfortunate quality that is missing from the third installment in the series.

Whether you’ve played previous Dance Central or dance games before or not, Dance Central 3 would make a great addition to anyone’s gaming collection, and is definitely worth the purchase. It’s accessible to both advanced and beginner players, and has something for everyone to enjoy, in terms of mode, challenge level, and song choice. The newly added story mode makes it more relevant to the single player experience, and the Crew Throwdown mode expands the applicability of the multiplayer experience to a bigger group of people that want to battle it out for the top spot of dancing champions. The DLC options are endless, and will continue to grow as time progresses, meaning you can tailor your library to your specific taste in music. This is a game that will be getting a lot of playtime at my house, both at parties as well as alone when I feel the need to take out Dr. Tan once more with my never ending “swagger.”


the higher your score – get a few flawless ratings in a row, and you will earn multipliers. Go for the highest score you can!