Now Playing: Rhythm Party (Xbox 360 Kinect)

As a Kinect launch title Dance Central was neat but the more I played it I realized that it’s not a dancing game at all, it’s a dancing instructor. You do exactly the motion that is asked of you and are penalized for any creative flair you may add. While this could legitimately make you a good dancer it’s not what I want out of a dancing game. Games are about living out fantasies and when I’m in front of a camera, about to perform for a video game I’m already a really good dancer. Rhythm Party embraces this delusion by not demanding anything too specific of its players and for that I’ve come to cherish it.

Essentially it’s the Easy Mode from Konami’s Kinect title, DanceMasters, extruded out into a full game. There are no 3D dancers to mimic, your goal is to make sure some body part hits the circular targets that appear around your in-game visage in time with the music. Along with simply hitting the markers on screen you’ll occasionally have to hold on one for a few seconds or make directional swipes when a series of arrows appear.

While that’s all it takes to move through Rhythm Party’s meager playlist and unlock higher difficulties the game is tracking (and scoring) much more of your movement. Stepping around the play space, jumping, spinning, posing and more are all tracked with optional in-game challenges to hit a certain number of those moves in a song. Hitting consecutive targets and throwing in extra moves builds up a score multiplier while “special effect” moments add bonus points and unexpected costumes over your in-game self. Suddenly you’ll be dancing around with a pair of fairy wings on your back or encased in an Iron Giant style robot suit. Each song has its own special effect that matches the style of its well-animated background and is honestly, usually, quite silly.

Silly is the best way to describe Rhythm Party and that’s not meant to be condescending. Though there’s depth to be found in the scoring and motion tracking, it’s really an excuse to dance around to music and watch crazy things happen on the screen. That frivolity makes it all the more disappointing that there’s no multiplayer mode at all. Even a take-a-turn high score competition would’ve been enough but at the least it’s easy to restart a song and swap places.

Where Rhythm Party feels the most thin is in its playlist. For the regular price of $10 you get ten songs: 3 short cut U.S. pop tracks from the Village People, Bobby Brown, and Lady Gaga, 1 kid tune, 2 that feature Vanilla Ice and 4 that would sound at home in DDR. I have come to enjoy all of them (except YMCA) but it’s very much up to personal taste if you feel like you got ripped off. You can also spend up to an extra $12 to add 12 more songs through DLC but most of those are from the same artists here and there’s no official way to preview them without buying.

Rhythm Party isn’t deep or technical or even very challenging. It’s got a bare-bones set of features and songs. It doesn’t even make it easy to play with friends which you’d expect from a game with “Party” in its title. Somehow, though, it transcends all those quibbles for me by enabling my delusions for short bursts of silly dancing — I mean, really good dancing! You can spend more on DLC but for ten dollars I can’t think of a Kinect game that’s made me as happy as Rhythm Party.

This review was originally posted at PEGreviews.com which is currently on hiatus

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