The Hip Hop Dance Experience Review

The Hip Hop Dance Experience

Though hip hop is a fairly niche genre, the success of dance games which feature songs of this genre is hard to deny. For those that simply aren’t that into rock music, or don’t like to pretend that they are playing real instruments with tiny pretend ones plugged into a console, console-based dance games are the perfect alternative.

Since the PS3 once lacked a suitable movement sensor for detecting your every move, The Hip Hop Dance Experience is strictly Xbox-based experience (it also has its place on the Wii as well, but this is the review of the Xbox version) because of the brilliant Kinect hardware. Forget shredding for hours on guitars or having to sing embarrassingly into a microphone in front of all your friends because The Hip Hop Dance Experience is much more urban, much cooler, and simply much more accessible to those that even know a little bit about moving their body in time with the music. Plus, with all the hip-hop and pseudo-rap in the charts at the moment, it seems fitting that such a game should be prominent in everyone’s minds.

In its format and presentation, The Hip Hop Dance Experience is similar to pretty much every other dance game preceding it such as Just Dance 4 and the Black Eyed Peas Experience. The format simply uses the Kinect hardware of the Xbox in order to track your movements, which should loosely mimic those of the on-screen instructions whenever possible. You will perform moves of varying complexity along the way, and it is your goal to match what is happening on the screen in time with the music. Some moves are simple steps left and right whereas you will eventually move on to more complicated stuff such as twists, turns, and your upper/lower body moving around independently of each other as far as is possible. You are of course judged on your performance, with the game using the Kinect sensor to establish the fidelity of your moves to those displayed on the screen. Knowing what comes next is made possible by the on-screen “dance cards”, which demonstrate the moves coming up next, allowing you to be one step ahead at all times.

The familiar format aside, games such as this rely on their selection of songs for their entertainment value, and The Hip Hop Dance Experience has 40 tracks for you to enjoy. Even if you’re not a huge hip-hop fan, you’re definitely going to recognise some of the repertoire on here, which includes some classic and newer tracks. Expect to make shapes to Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, J-Kwon’s Tipsy, and Run DMC’s It’s Tricky, as well as modern tracks from the likes of Pitbull, Nicky Minaj, Flo Rida, and B.o.B. In terms of hip hop, the selection is quite varied and includes tracks from the distant and past as well as enough “current” songs to keep the younger players interested. The track list is a little heavier on the nostalgia than it is the present day however, so players under the age of 20 may struggle to find familiar enjoyment from these songs.

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Aside from the track list, the other source of variation in the game comes from the variety of modes in which you can enjoy the tracks. Dance Party Mode is essentially a “pick up and play” experience where you can simply pick a track at a difficulty selected by you and go ahead and dance to it straight away, either solo or with an acquaintance. Dance marathon allows you to embark upon a seemingly endless string of songs consecutively, which is quite a tiring experience though one that is excellent for exercise purposes. There’s the option of going head-to-head with an opponent in order to battle it out and see who gets the most point at the end of the experience. Power Skooling mode is simply the practice area where you get to work on your moves a little to refine them for the other gameplay modes.

Developers Ubisoft were sure to take care in both the gameplay and presentation of The Hip Hop Dance Experience. You can customise your own dancer and everything looks flashy and polished. The game’s responsiveness to your movements is again impressive, and coupled with the song selection, The Hip Hop Dance Experience is one of the best hip hop dance games you can wish for on the Xbox 360.