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Review: Dance Central Spotlight

If you owned an original Xbox 360 Kinect, chances are you’ve played Dance Central. Hell, you might have bought the peripheral just to get into the franchise. A new console means a new version of Kinect, and as you’d expect, a new entry in the popular series too: Dance Central Spotlight.

If you’ve played Dance Central before, you’ll be very comfortable with this new, fully digital entry. For around $10 you get access to the game and ten songs. Ten songs doesn’t sound like all that much, but each track comes with 8 different choreographies. If you’re sick of the base songs, additional songs can be purchased for around $2 each, or bundles provide a little more – but not much – value.

The goal of Dance Central has always been to dance as best you can, but the new angle of Spotlight is to collect dance moves. Nail a move flawlessly for the first time, and it becomes part of your collection. A certain number of collected moves will unlock a new choreography for a song, and so on. Each song will start you off on Beginner, but soon you can move into Cardio, Strength, Pro and more.


Apart from that, the game is Dance Central. One or two players can step up and dance to songs. You’re to mirror movements that are made by on-screen dancers – all returning characters from Dance Central 1, 2 and 3 – and use cards to the side of the screen that show which moves are to be performed. A successful move is ranked either flawless, excellent, ok and so on, and better scores in throughout the dance will get you ever-closer to a 5-star rating. Do exceptionally well and you’ll get 5 gold stars for your efforts. If you’re wanting to use the game as a workout, a Cardio mode will help you track calories too.

Spotlight thankfully does away with the need for a head-scratching plot, à la Dance Central 3, but keeps the franchise’s level of difficulty. Beginner choreography is easy…. Pro is a lot harder. Durign the more difficult choreographies, I didn’t even try to mimic moves, preferring instead to flail about wildly; I knew that was as close as I was going to get. For those with a little more patience, you can use Kinect’s GREATLY improved voice controls to say, “Hey DJ – practice that!” and give the move a go at a slower pace.

Be warned: you will feel like a bit of a tool for yelling, “Hey DJ!” to no-one in particular.


Dance Central and Just Dance both have their place in the motion-control dance genre. While Just Dance is quite casual and meant for a good time, Dance Central definitely caters for the more technical, even professional, dancer. Kinect 2.0’s tracking only helps this; if you’re closing your hand in a move that requires it to be open, you’ll get stung for it. It’s a testament to the technology, and to Harmonix as well.

If you’ve purchased any of the previous games’ DLC, you’ll be able to import those songs into Spotlight. Sadly, unlike as in other Harmonix games, you won’t be able to import on-disc songs from Dance Central 1, 2 or 3 – which is a real shame. That said, a $10 game using Xbox One and the new Kinect means I’m a little more inclined to splash out a couple extra dollars to pad out my song library.

Microsoft isn’t stupid. They’ve reversed the decision to include a Kinect with every Xbox One, and since the Kinect-less SKU was introduced, Xbox One sales have skyrocketed. That doesn’t mean those without the peripheral mightn’t ever want it, so it’s now on sale as a standalone item; Dance Central Spotlight is bundled in too. Don’t get overly excited, as the Kinect on its own is pretty damn dear — $170 AUD. Hopefully those of you who want to get your groove on already have the camera.

Dance Central Spotlight is a neat little package and a must for any of you with an Xbox One, a Kinect and a bit of space. Leave your inhibitions on the table alongside your Xbox One controller.

Dance Central Spotlight

The good

  • Great value for money at $10.
  • Dance Central, as you know it and love it.
  • Improved Kinect 2.0 motion and voice controls

The bad

  • You can import old DLC, but not old on-disc songs.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.