Say what you want about the Black Eyed Peas, but its hard to deny their success with their huge fan base, record breaking sales, and massive hits (some that I didnt even realize were theirs). Ill admit, Im not the biggest Black Eyed Peas fan (I dont even own any of their albums), but I do enjoy their hits and unique style. Is the Black Eyed Peas Experience enough though to bring in new fans?
To be honest, I was more interested in the Black Eyed Peas Experience game more because its developed by iNiS, whove been around for over a decade making great music based games like Elite Beat Agents and the Lips franchise. Before we delve into the game, lets go over a brief history of the Black Eyed Peas and why they even have their own game, for those that dont know much about them. In 2003, the Peas released their third album, Elephunk and since then have gone on to sell more than fifty million records. As an alternative hip-hop group, the band consists of Will.I.Am, Apl.De.Ap, Taboo, and the newest front woman, Fergie, who joined in 2001. As I mentioned above, Im not the biggest fan, but youll mostly likely recognize many of their hits from radio, TV, movies and other media.
Not being a huge fan, I was surprised with how much of their music I actually recognized (and enjoyed), and some I didnt even know that it was a Black Eyed Peas song. Some of the notable songs on the disc that I knew were Boom Boom Pow, Dont Phunk With My Heart, Hey Mama, I Gotta Feeling, Just Cant Get Enough, Pump It, and Rock That Body. Also, who doesnt want to dance whenever My Humps comes on every now and then? There are thirty songs included on the disc (two of which are downloadable for free if you bought the Limited Edition new), and while it may not seem like much number wise, all the hits are here and any Black Eyed Peas fan should be happy with the selection.
From the very beginning of the game youll notice that its different from the other dance games. To even begin playing you need to sway back and forth in line with the dancers on screen. An interesting touch that didnt go unnoticed. From here on, youll control the menus with your normal hand movements by hovering over your selections. Rather than having an icon on the left for your hand to hover over like almost every other Kinect game to go back a menu, you have to raise your right arm above your head, then kind of swipe backwards to bring up the menu of previous choices. It seemed odd and at first I couldnt get it to work because its just an icon that shows to raise arm and move it (which didnt do anything). Its a small thing, but its one of the first frustrations I had with the game almost immediately.
If you want to just quickly jump into a song and play, the Dance Party mode is for you. If youre looking for the campaign, then youll want to choose Deluxe Experience. The first thing youll do in campaign is create your dancer (male or female) and as you complete songs and gain more followers, youll unlock more clothing choices to eventually dress your dancer however you like. You gotta look good when youre on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, so get dancing!
Obviously people are going to compare this to Dance Central 2 and see how it compares. There are similarities simply because of the genre, but it does do some things differently that make it a unique experience apart from the other dance titles. Most notably, is that while your mimicking the dancer in front of you, off to the left side youll also see your created character, as if youre standing behind them. I found following this character instead of the dancer in front of you (like a mirror) made it much easier to learn some of the more difficult moves and ultimately felt like I was seeing my dancing on screen through my dancer.
From here youll pick your venue (you have to unlock them in order with a set amount of followers), then the song you want to play. Youll notice the song is sectioned into 4 different pieces. Play part 1 to learn 4 or so moves of the routine, then part 2 to learn another set, and lastly part 3 for more moves. Each training set is mimicking the moves twice, and then putting them into a string of moves with each other. After all 3 training sections are complete; you can then play the routine that brings it all together. By the time you get to the actual routine, youve heard the same song about 8 or so times. The routine is just all the moves put together for half the song, take a quick rest break, and then repeat. The issue I found with this layout is that by the time you get to the routine, youve forgotten set 1 and 2s moves if they are difficult. Every so often youll also be given a challenge if you choose to accept it. This has you trying to complete a specific objective in the set or routine youre about to play such as getting 30 incredibles, 10 smooth transitions, or a set amount of followers by the end of the set.
Instead of flash cards coming at the screen in order, at the top itll show you only the next move a few seconds before its about to happen, so theres less clutter on the screen at once. While I like the less clutter, its also sometimes difficult to get ready for the next move as you can only see the next upcoming move instead of the next few. Dance better and youll gain more followers. Do smooth transitions between moves and youll gain bonuses, and nail that finishing move for a big bonus. I just wish there was feedback on your moves and why you arent doing well. If youre not even close to doing the correct movements, your dancer will stop, but that doesnt help me to get better and tell me why Im doing it wrong. Seems no dance game has figured out this solution yet. If youre having trouble nailing specific moves, theres a dance coach to assist in learning said moves. I highly suggest it for some of the more difficult moves, as some require a lot of energy and flexibility.
If you want to prove you have what it takes to make a routine of you own, then Choreo-maker is the mode for you. Here you can completely customize a dance for any of the songs included. Sadly, you dont get to just dance in front of the Kinect, making up your own moves as you go. Instead, you pick set moves built into the game and string them together however you wish. Youre able to pick any dance moves from any song and incorporate them into your dance masterpiece for you to then share online with your friends.
Speaking of your friends, if a friend wants to join you at any time, they are able to by standing in front of the Kinect beside you and hold their hand above their head for a few moments. If theyre too shy to dance, two players are even able to grab a microphone and sing along instead (the Lips microphones even flash in sync with the music). Multiplayer is highly encouraged because youll earn followers much quicker, and its obviously more fun than dancing alone.
Its great when a Kinect game simply works, as the tracking seemed to be accurate and I never felt like I was being unfairly scored performing a move. I know if I was missing dance moves, it was out of my own laziness (though usually tiredness). New copies of the limited edition come with a download code for Someday and Light Up the Night and it feels like a much more involved game than the Michael Jackson game did. There are even small facts about the band and members are the loading screens and now I know that Fergie has dry hair and uses olive oil for it.
What Black Eyed Peas Experience does right is make you feel like youre in a club atmosphere rather than just trying to learn some moves by yourself. Does it beat Dance Central? Maybe if youre a huge Black Eyed Peas fan, but keep in mind theres no other music here other than theirs (which is probably why youd be buying it anyways). Just like Beatles Rockband, Greenday Rockband, and others, if youre a big fan of the band, youll enjoy the experience within. To everyone else, its not a necessity unless youre becoming tired of Dance Central 2 somehow. While Black Eyed Peas may not be my band of choice, they do bring a different dance experience to Kinect and even though I didnt know all the songs, I enjoyed my club-like experience for the most part. After a handful of songs, youll easily break a sweat.