Starting up our Dance Central VR review, this game flew under the radar even for me, a Dance Central aficionado. Maybe not so much “under the radar” but more like “restricted to a platform”. Some time later, I decided to pick this game up since technology has improved for VR software.
Originally, Dance Central is a franchise that was created by Harmonix for the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor. With dozens of songs, and even another sequel for the Xbox One (Dance Central: Spotlight), there’s always plenty to hear and dance to. Where does this new one fit in and also, it has a story? Find out here in our Dance Central VR review!
Dance Central VR
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Price: $29.99 USD
Surprisingly, there is a story for Dance Central, seriously. This game however doesn’t continue that story however. The characters you encounter though are from the original games on the Xbox 360. This virtual reality standalone game doesn’t really touch on any of the previous events of the other games and instead opts for the “just have fun lol” approach.
With that being said, there are 3 modes you can choose from, Perform It, Crew Up, and Break It Down. For most, you’ll just jump straight into Perform It mode and it’s where you can free play songs in your library.
Crew Up acts as a multiplayer element like the previous entry, Dance Central 3, where you can choose a side and compete. Break It Down mode is meant as a tutorial that lets you practice and learn new moves in your favorite songs.
Various locations are scattered throughout the club filled with NPCs and some of the main characters. In the Wardrobe, you can customize your avatar and unlock new clothes and phone cases when you interact with characters more often. The balcony doesn’t serve a purpose, but it is nice to take in the atmosphere.
The gameplay is very similar to the original series but is toned down because of VR limitations. Since you can’t track your feet without the use of third party accessories, hands are the main input. It’s not immersion breaking but it is a step down from the series a bit.
Looking at aesthetics for our Dance Central VR review, they feel the same from previous entries with the night club aspects, minus the time traveling from DC3. Graphically, it is improved over Spotlight and runs much smoother. Character models do however look much different from previous games, and have a different art style.
It’s a jarring change if you’ve ever seen the other games in the series and see this appear so oddly. I loved the strobe lights and the club scenery, and every screen that showed the title of the song and the Star ratings were placed like a genius. When your arms, or the other character’s arms move, you see the swishing effect which helps visually.
The graphics are great without the strange looking new character designs. It isn’t something you’ll think about when exercising or playing a song trying to match their moves. All in all, it’s an atmospheric game that has a world that feels immersive and known.
It should go without saying that audio in this game is top notch. I would expect nothing less from Harmonix in this regard since they know audio very well. Music is high quality, and you can listen to it like normal when playing. In other cases, you can hear the club speakers booming and the crowd chatting and it feels real.
This game has a catalog of 32 songs (including DLC) so there’s plenty to play from almost every era. Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, and D.N.C.E. add their music to list of songs to play and master. If I had known about this game back in 2019 as opposed to 2021, I would have bought it sooner.
This is one of the highest points of the game, for obvious reasons. Harmonix has a great track record of audio in their games sounding masterful. F.U.S.E.R. and the Rock Band franchise have all benefited from these sound systems. If nothing else feels right, this feels completely right.
I’m glad I got to go back and play this game to do our Dance Central VR review, even if I am about 3 years too late to the party. I’ve always been a fan of Dance Central since it first came out and I stood in line at Old Navy to get it with my purchase. Thankfully, I just sat on my but and ordered it through the “meh” marketplace of Oculus (now Meta Quest).
Closing out our Dance Central VR review, I would recommend this on sale and if you have a good workout regiment to assist. You can lose weight by playing and moving to the music, I used to until I got a desk job where I added 40 more pounds. It’s a great return to form and makes me nostalgic for the games of the past on the Xbox 360.
Dance Central VR was reviewed on Oculus Quest using a copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Dance Central VR is now available for Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 via its digital store.