The debut of the Kinect and Move have heralded a whole host of rhythm and dance games that have made Dance Dance Revolution’s footpad old hat. The Move has bragged on its bulbous wands used to detect the player, and Microsoft doesn’t go a single press conference without announcers writhing on stage to whatever title will be showing off the Kinect’s “cutting edge” technology this year; GO DANCE for the iPad is Sega’s attempt to call their bluff and do the same with a plain and simple iPad camera, and whether they succeeded or not is to be determined.
Exclusive to the App Store, GO DANCE is a dance rhythm game, as implied by the title, for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, compatible with iOS 6 or higher for those who have yet to make the jump to iOS 7. All platforms use the front facing camera by default, so no clever mirror tricks that might be required by playing with the camera on the back are necessary. Launched on September 12, few changes or additions have been made to the game in the month since, which is hardly a good thing.
Much like other motion sensing dance games, players imitate a figure dancing on screen to the best of their ability and are judged based on the accuracy of their movements and timing. While titles such as Dance central for the Xbox Kinect feature an in-depth tutorial mode that in essence teachers the player how to accurately perform each move step-by-step, GO DANCE has no such redeeming feature. Basically, players are left to flop their arms around in a manner similar to the silhouette on screen in an attempt to trick the camera into thinking you performed the desired move with perfection. The upside is that this title is great as a self-esteem booster for those who thought they couldn’t dance; my arms alone score at least an AA every time. One of the game’s selling points is that, unlike those on the Move or Kinect, it can be played anywhere, but let’s be honest: If you get that confident, it might be time to put down the iPad and back away slowly.
With only two short excerpts of songs available upon download, players aren’t going to be picking up dance moves with much variety unless they buy the currency in the game with which additional songs can be purchased. Each additional song costs 50 STAR points that can be bought in either 50 or 100 point increments for $0.99 and $1.99 respectively. The second in game currency, HEART points, are earned by winning battles in multiplayer and can only be used to purchase stages and clothes for your avatar.
With colorful menus in pastels and a responsive swiping interface, the game is easy to navigate so you can get to flailing your arms to some sick beats as quickly as possible, all two of them. That said, watching a plain black figure outdo you on screen can get somewhat dull and since there’s nothing else to spend HEART points on, use them to spice up your avatar. For example, I went with a jet-black jacket, purple sneakers, and bright orange hotpants. Downright sexy. Then I headed off to multiplayer to show off the new threads.
Rather than battling each other simultaneously, multiplayer consists of each player taking turns on the chosen song and then submitting their score with the chance to retry for a better or worse score using tickets that can be bought in the store. Battles can only be initiated via battle tickets which refill at a rate of one every ten minutes or, you guessed it, can be bought in the store.
While GO DANCE is well done for its availability on a platform not yet swamped with the genre, and it no doubt a great arm workout, don’t throw out your Kinect just yet. The iPad camera simply wasn’t made with the capability hardware wise and it’s blatantly obvious. The camera is it’s being used for GO DANCE has no ability to detect anything but horizontal movement, and only in relation to the location of your torso, which excludes depth and full body movement, and even only detecting arm movement it’s not very accurate. Secondly, the game is almost entirely reliant on in-game transactions, something that is expected of obscure free-to-play games, but not Sega titles that cost $1.99. In reality, the game will cost players at least $5 if they wish to get any real play out of it, and even then the songs available are very limited. For the first of its kind, the game is an attempt worthy of mention, but only in passing before it end up being what it looks like: Free-to-play.