Video games that teach you how to dance

Just Dance 3 (Xbox 360 with Kinect, Nintendo Wii, PS3 with Move)

With Just Dance, kids can dance to music as they try to follow the moves of virtual dancers. Depending on your gaming system, the game tracks movement through controllers, sensors, or cameras. It features current pop songs and has options for multiple players and different difficulty levels. Another dance video game option for younger kids is Zumba Kids. Older kids and teens may like Dance Central. It’s available for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One.

Access a free demo on Xbox Sore, PlayStation®store, or Nintendo e-shop, available on Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U. Dance to “Blame” by Calvin Harris ft. John Newman using the Just Dance Controller App to score and track your moves – no extra accessories or purchases needed! 

Now that we’ve entered the era of motion-sensor cameras and accelerometers, dance videogames that require those plastic pads are history. The Xbox 360 Kinect, because it tracks the entire body, leads the pack in movement gaming, but the PS3 Move and Nintendo Wii offer solid options, too.

You may think you have two left feet or that you’re an embarrassment on the dance floor, but there’s a game to help you with that. Dance Central came to the Xbox 360 via the Kinect motion peripheral in 2010 followed by Dance Central 2 in 2011, and Dance Central 3 in 2012. While games like Dance DanceRevolution and Just Dance were already around, the difference that Dance Central brought with the Kinect was the tracking of the body’s movement, instead of the movement of a Wii controller in one hand or the timed stepping of a dance pad on the floor.

Dance Central not only required timed stepping but also the movement of your arms, legs, hips, torso, and head. In addition to the motion tracking, the dance moves and routines in dance central were more current, edgy, and varied within each song (although there are continual song-for-song debates on Just Dance vs. Dance Central video on youtube). Plus as you get better at routines and moves, you can level up the difficulty and unlock advanced moves to learn and perform. Then you’ll have no problem being the hotshot at the club.

Rhythm and dance games are known for their weird accessories, which help to augment the experience and act as a tool to help break it down. But unlike a typical dance pad or plastic guitar, Nintendo managed to push boundaries with its pair of plastic bongo drums. While there were a few other obscure games that used this peripheral – even a Donkey Kong platformer – the Donkey Konga games were the main focus, and it worked marvelously.

The game managed to simplify the idea of the rhythm game by boiling down the inputs to only a handful of commands – hit the left, right, or both bongos to the rhythmic cues, and throw in a clap every now and then. The premise is basic but delightfully appealing, and the setlist offers a diverse lineup of enjoyable tunes. These range from various kids’ songs to Nintendo hits like the Pokemon Theme to Blink 182.

Younger gamers might only recognize this quirky PlayStation game from a cheeky Robot Chicken spoof. Yet, back in the 90s, this was one of the go-to rhythm-based hits for those who didn’t want to work up a sweat in DDR. The game contains some cute cell-shaded graphics and a simple-but-engaging narrative about a dog who wants to become a rapper – because why not? During the rapping romps, the player will train with Master Onion and face off against a diverse array of opponents which include a chicken man. It’ll be tough to hold back a smile as you rap your way through some crazy scenarios and rattle off cheesy lines. Though the actual mechanics boil down to hitting the right buttons at the right time, the presentation is uniquely enjoyable and the gameplay is appealing.

One of the few notable rhythm titles for Segas’s short-lived Dreamcast, Space Channel 5 makes a name for itself with its zany premise and unique sci-fi set designs. You take the role of a slender, sparsely dressed reporter named Ulala.The mission? Dance your way to victory against an invading force of aliens who have forced Ulala and her fellow humans to dance the night away. The game mixes rhythmic directional movements with button pushes, which must be hit in a sequence rattled off by the aliens. This triggers Ulalas zapper to shoot (or chu, as the aliens cutely chirp) at these little guys each time the player taps a button. Despite – or perhaps partly because of the bizarre presentation – Space Channel 5 proves a fun little rhythmic romp.

Nintendos Rhythm Heaven Fever reminds us that simplicity is often part of the draw of this genre. This charmingly cute and goofy rhythm game puts the player in a number of random rapid-fire scenarios that force them to peck the A and or B buttons on their Wii Remote to the varying rhythms. The game lives up to its title – as gunning for perfect scores becomes feverishly addictive and intense once the player gets into the swing of things. This sequel to the breakout DS hit takes things up a notch, with a more robust, more inventive lineup of scenarios. There are even competitive and co-op multiplayer missions, which include having to work in harmony with a friend as one navigates a rowboat through treacherous waters.

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