The Black Eyed Peas Experience (Xbox 360 Kinect)
“I gotta feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”
Good may be a stretch when it comes to the Black Eyed Peas Experience, but the enjoyable music and entertaining dancing does ensure that there is fun to be had.
I will be completely honest, the only reason I bought a Kinect at launch was due to the great visuals and excitement conveyed by another dance title, Dance Central. I may prefer explosions and nonsensical fire fights, but the original Dance Central (and it’s follow up) was, and still is, a terrific example of how a rhythm dance game should be developed for use with the Kinect.
Looking at the Black Eyed Peas Experience, I am quite baffled by the fact that a dance title that is so singularly focused is released these days. There is no denying the mass appeal of dance titles but surely this limits the full enjoyment of the game only to fans of the Black Eyed Peas? I do not consider myself a fan, but I do occasionally listen to their music. The music is undoubtedly catchy and automatically makes you want to move your body, but a few hours down the line and I had my fill of the Black Eyed Peas.
The game features 30 hits from the various Black Eyed Peas albums released over the years, which can be experienced in 2 game modes.
The first mode, dance party, allows you to quickly get your groove on by selecting a song of your choice. Each song has only one associated difficulty level so you may not want to select your favourite track right from the start due to the complexity of the moves. Compared to what other titles offer I found this to be a further limiting factor reducing its replayability and longevity.
The dance routine associated with a song consists of 2 stages separated by an intermission of a few seconds. Each stage has multiple dance steps, with the second stage mirroring the first but for one or two dance steps. This gives you the opportunity to repeat and improve on those moves you learned earlier. In addition, each dance step is performed by a different member of the group, so members are constantly switched out as the dance steps change. This can be a bit confusing and does take some getting used to.
The second mode – Deluxe Experience – represents the campaign mode where the aim is simply to dance well, gain followers, complete objectives and receive rewards. These rewards come in the form of fashion accessories, upgraded and new venues. Throughout the routine you are scored by how well you perform a specific step as well as the smooth transition from one step to another.
While you are busy performing a step the next dance step is shown on the top of the screen. Instead of a static image though, it is a character silhouette performing the move. This is extremely helpful and is an element the Black Eyed Peas Experience does better than other titles.
It may be pertinent to mention at this stage that the word “Experience” in the title alludes to more than just dancing; if you happen to have the USB mic you can have a friend join you by singing along while you burn up the dance floor. If not, they can still jump in and dance along assisting you with gaining followers and reaching objectives. Please note though that I did not have a microphone and could therefore not test this aspect.
The Deluxe experience is not that dissimilar to the dance party mode. Here however, you are required to first select a dance venue, which shows all the available tracks. As with dance party mode, the same track difficulties are applicable. Track selection shows a set of flyers, which consists of a few dance steps. Completing a flyer allows you to move onto the next flyer, and so on.
Occasionally Black Eyed Peas team members will launch a direct challenge, which requires you to reach an objective as part of completing the routine. These were quite tough and kept the experience fresh.
Completing all flyers associated with a song allows you to take part in the final performance, which is just a routine that amalgamates all the previous dance steps into a single performance.
Admittedly, I am not much of a dancer, but compared to other dance titles I found some of the moves extremely difficult, even on the low skill level songs. This makes the prospect of moving to the more difficult songs very daunting.
The game does give you the opportunity to slow a move down to better understand exactly how it is done. This proves very helpful if you want to master some of the more complex moves often performed at ridiculous speeds.
A nice feature of the deluxe experience is the choreograph-maker. Although my hopes of doing the funky chicken and watching my family perform it were quickly dashed, it does allow you to take the moves from all the songs and string them together in different combinations, to the Black Eyed Peas song of your choice, of course. This does take some time to complete but it is satisfying when viewing the end result.
You may have read up to this point with the impression that I have really enjoyed the experience and that would be entirely correct. However the illusion created by the game that I was actually performing the moves via my on-screen character was completely shattered when at a moment of physical exhaustion I flailed my arms and witnessed my character continuing to perform the moves with great skill and precision.
Yes, the Kinect controls on this game, tracking your body movement, are highly inaccurate. In fact at times it even tracked feet movement when mine were still. This completely ruined the experience for me as there was no point or motivation for me to mimic the on screen moves if I could just haphazardly move my body and achieve a similar result. A great disappointment from developer iNiS, who specialises in rhythm games.
The Black Eyed Peas Experience utilises the Unreal 3 Engine, but this by no means represents the best utilisation of the graphics engine. Visuals are still good though, with well modelled characters and futuristic venues to dance in.
The Black Eyed Peas Experience never reaches the heights and brilliance of a Dance Central, but still represents a good entry into the now flooded market of dance titles.
If you are a fan of their music and inaccurate tracking controls are of no significance to you, then you will find this a fun and engaging experience. If not, then you are better off looking elsewhere.