What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game doesn't have an official ESRB rating, but we would recommend the game for ages 13+ due to the online chat component and some mildly suggestive lyrics and skimpy outfits. The game has open chat with a built-in language filter which blanks out common curse words, but users seem to have found creative ways of circumventing the filter (such as spelling the curse word with a slight difference). Players can marry other players of the opposite gender in the game, or "divorce" them by buying a "dump potion." The game is free to play, but players can use real money to buy an in-game currency called Acclaim Coins, which can be used to purchase new clothes and items. Items can also be bought using Points, which players earn through dancing, but it will take them longer to save them up. Players get 1005 Acclaim Coins for $10, and a complete outfit costs between 600 and 1500 Coins.
What's it about?
Dancing is a social activity, so a game like DANCE! ONLINE makes perfect sense. It takes the dancing game mechanics of Dance Dance Revolution and transplants it into an online social network where players can challenge friends or strangers in dance battles to see who can achieve the highest score. Players start by choosing a male or female avatar and then join a dance room based on their level of expertise, where they will meet other players to dance with. As a song plays, four different directional arrows scroll up the screen, and the goal is to hit the corresponding keyboard key in the correct rhythm to \"dance.\" After each dance, players are awarded a letter grade, and will gain experience points. Leveling up unlocks new outfits and other bonuses. If players have a PC-compatible dance mat (from a third-party manufacturer like Red Octane), they can use it instead of a keyboard.
Is it any good?
In addition to being able to compete with 1 to 5 other players and dance to 75 hip-hop, dance, and pop tracks (including numbers by En Vogue, Chromeo, Sean Paul, and Ashley Tisdale), players can enjoy social networking features like the ability to chat with other players in the lounge, send messages to people on their buddylist, buy clothing and other items to outfit their Avatar, and buy items to give to other players or to decorate a private room, which also contains a television for watching recorded dances.
Dance! Online is off to a good start, but some of its features could use refinement. Confusing menus and a lack of adequate help files make it hard to explore the game's more advanced features. While dancing, the difficulty is uneven, with "superstar mode" basically consisting of tracks that have been sped up to insane levels as opposed to taking the time to create more intricate dance patterns. Let's hope that as the online experience continues to evolve, some of these features will be smoothed out to make Dance! Online an even richer experience than it already is.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether they prefer to use the keyboard or a dance mat. Which is easier? Does playing a dancing game make them want to learn some dance moves in real life? Do they think that this game has improved their rhythm or dancing skills?