"World Dance" is a unique computer game. Viewed from a third-person perspective, you control a dancer and you must collect various objects found about a dance floor. Usually I disregard game suggestions from friends; I find more often than not that they listen to hype rather than an honest opinion from a reviewer. So when a friend suggested this game to me, I thought I could ignore him. However, I couldn’t resist taking a look at “World Dance” simply because I’m a dance freak. The right music, the right atmosphere and the right people can have me flailing about a dance floor all night long. Unfortunately, “World Dance” captures very little of what makes dancing fun. Its static and rigid nature betrays the freedom one feels on the floor.
At first, the concept is novel (or at least less offensive than "Mary-Kate and Ashley Girls Night Out"). You are a dancer on a dance floor. To proceed to the next venue, you must collect treasures while dancing around obstacles. After passing a level, you can read the historical and the cultural facts for each treasure. Aspiring dancers can look forward to 7 distinct venues with 6 cultural treasures in each venue. Additionally, each venue will have its own dance style with about 12 moves; 6 of which are venue related. Lastly, our character will change at every level. The venues available are Hawaii, Senegal, Egypt, France, China, Mexico, and Ireland. Thus, one would do well to enjoy the path rather than the goal.
Controlling your dancer is quite simple. You may use the mouse or the arrow keys to pick dance patterns to execute. As the difficulty setting is augmented, the grid lines will disappear and the dance patterns will need to be combined before execution. I should mention that there is a time allotted to collect a certain amount of cultural treasure, though the time is hardly a factor I would consider limiting; it is more of a reminder to not be in a venue for too long. The last technical challenge is coupled with the venues. Each venue will present a border and some dance floor obstacles. Trying to dance through any of these barriers will result in the loss of a cultural treasure, and too many hits will have you lose the level. The game is a superior piece of work due to the fluidity of the dancers. The moves are very well articulated. They are probably motion captures, as the companies' services would indicate as much (I would love to meet the dancers). However, the game fails in many respects.
There are two categories of failings: technical and conceptual. The technical failings are quite clear. The graphics are meager. Not only do the dancers have little detail to them, but also they don't even offer a change of dress colour or sex. Similarly, the dance floor has little detail other than a shade of colour. It is quite clear that they do not place emphasis on the graphical detail. The music and sound also carry the same amount of quality. The music harks back to the early days of computer MIDI music (um, the uncool MIDI music). For an activity that derives energy from the music, the music is simply flat and repetitive. Similarly, I can probably count on my fingers the amount of sound effects involved in this game. For an aside, it would have been neat to hear the description for each cultural treasure, as one would collect them; I know there's enough room on the CD to accommodate this. Lastly, the controls are not optimized for actual input. They are simply there. With over a hundred keys on an average keyboard, they make use of 3 of them for in-game input (left, right, enter). I would think it natural to use one key for each move available, as this is a simple game that requires a simple and fast input method. Additionally, I would like to have a queue of moves to execute, but that too is not present. Though the technical failings clearly mark this product as a "value" game, the conceptual failings are much more of a personal nature.
This game doesn't appeal to me on several levels, which I have labelled "conceptual". The first obvious gripe I have is that this game features only one male character. I'm sure all the styles have a male counterpart to them (okay, probably not France and China). I concede that the amount of motion captures and work would have practically double, but it would have added another dimension to the game. Similarly, this game features only singular dance styles. I enjoy dancing because of the dynamics one may create with a partner. I adore the dynamic nature of salsa, swing, flamenco and ballroom. Of course, this would be very difficult to program into a computer game. The point is that this game appeals to those who watch from the sidelines and insist they do not want to be in the spotlight. Additionally, this game is quite static in the moves repertoire. Worst yet, the static nature of the dance floors and dance moves make this game just another puzzle movement game where you collect some meaningless object to get to the next meaningless level. Lastly, and most unforgiving, this game excludes much of what I relate to the dance styles. There are basic steps and premises for each style of dance that I expect. This game fails to capture that base, but the base may be biased. Though, I must ask... Where is the seemingly independent upper, lower and middle body movement in the belly dance? Where are those distinctive and powerful stomps of the jig? Where are those never ending kicks in the can-can (your character always pauses and waits for your dance pattern input as opposed to looking cute and occupied like in "Worms")? Where is the continuous fluidity of the hula (again, the pause issue)? Where are the playful hat nuances of the hat dance? Where is the communal feeling one feels during the tribal dance (this is an important concept of the purpose of dance)? Where is the typical posture of the xinjiang uygur dance (she looks like she is just walking around sometimes instead of being a powerful performer)? I guess I just expect too much.
Frankly, this game is a super-budget game. There is a lack of polish in the music, graphics, user interface and move repertoire. Though it is fun at first, one will lose interest within a few hours. It just does not captivate.
[05/10] Fun Level