A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nickelodeon Dance is a dance game for young children. Its goal is to engage young kids in fitness. The game includes several difficulty levels and can be enjoyed by up to two players at the same time. Several songs are unlocked only after certain achievements are met. At various times during a song, the game will take pictures of the players as they dance. These pictures are replayed as the score is revealed and kids always enjoy seeing themselves on the screen. This review was conducted on the Kinect for Xbox 360 version of the game. Other versions may be slightly different.
What's it about?
NICKELODEON DANCE lets kids choose a song and then dance to it by following motions shown on the screen. Much of the music is familiar, including theme songs from popular Nick Jr. TV shows: Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans, The Fresh Beat Band, and Go, Diego, Go! Parents may recognize kid-friendly versions of "Locomotion," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and "Rockin' Robin." There is also a Christmas song, "Santa Claus is Coming Aqui." The songs are grouped into four categories: Starting Steps, Smooth Moves, Fancy Footwork, Workout. The first three categories reflect the progressive difficulty of the dancing, while the Workout category uses special moves that are fitness related (such as lunges and jumping jacks).
During a song, kids watch lead characters, including Dora and Diego, as well as familiar faces from The Backyardigans and then try to mimic the moves that the characters are doing on screen. As in other dance games, upcoming moves slowly scroll across the screen. As kids perform the moves, they are given one, two, or three stars based on their accuracy. These stars fill up a "star meter" that calculates their score at the end of the game. They can receive one, two, or three golden stars, although they are given positive feedback regardless of their end score. Most kids should be able to get two stars just by continuing to move. The third star is more elusive.
Is it any good?
Nickelodeon Dance will appeal to preschool and early elementary kids who are fans of these Nickelodeon TV characters. They will enjoy dancing along with familiar songs. With a multi-player option, the game creates a social/family fitness activity. For kids who just enjoy the dance and pay little attention to their accuracy or the score, this game will be fun. But for those who are focused on scoring, this game may be frustrating. Even the easiest dances have some moves that will be foreign to most kids, and by the time they realize a change in moves has happened, it's time for the next one to arrive. The more advanced levels have moves that are very difficult for young kids (and some adults) to pick up on their own and the workout mode is fast and furious. Without any kind of tutorial for the dance moves, Nickelodeon Dance is best played by kids and an adult who can lend some extra help. The menus on the Kinect version of the game may also be tricky for younger players. It's easy to select the wrong song, but difficult to back out of it.
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