Review: Grease Dance for Xbox Kinect

PHOTO: Game play from the XBox Kinect game "Grease Dance."YouTube
Game play from the XBox Kinect game "Grease Dance."

Grease Dance for Xbox Kinect is a dancing game that serves as an effective answer to the night club staples that headline the Dance Central and Just Dance games. It trades Rihanna and The Black Eyed Peas for Elvis and Little Richard, not to mention all of Grease's most danceable tunes.

Focusing on choreography and interpretive dance over fancy footwork, you'll recognize some of the game's moves from the movie. I have no doubt that if a group of high school students played this game enough, they could put on a full show utilizing the game's moves. The game is rated T for teen due to its more suggestive themes (we all know what Summer Lovin' is about) and the experience is better for it. Nobody wants a watered-down Grease.

I particularly enjoyed the flow of the game's menu system. It had extremely pleasing visuals between songs and buttons with a musical sound design that would encourage you to click around just for fun. The game is full of cartoony set pieces from the films, with even cartoonier versions of Grease's characters animated with spirit.

At times, dancing along to Grease Dance is a blast. You can't help but crack a smile when pointing your finger to an imaginary crowd during Grease Lightning or doing the hand jive to time in Born to Hand Jive. Still, the game could have benefited from some variety in the dance routines; each song only had one degree of difficulty, hurting replay value. It was not good that I kept earning A+ ratings on every song during the first go-round. I wanted a dance challenge beyond the first two hours of gameplay.

There is a gender issue at work with Grease Dance as well. Songs like Sandra Dee will make the girls prance while the hip-thrusting Elvis tunes feel best fit for a male dancer. Depending on how you see it, dancing against gender can be hilarious fun, but more often than not I found it more awkward than anything. This game is best played with a mix of guys and girls so either can jump in when needed.

Grease Dance allows you to karaoke along to the tracks while you dance. In order to sing you'll have to have microphone accessories, don't expect the Kinect's built in mic to do this job.

This may be a greater issue with what has become a standard for Kinect games, but I am getting tired of freestyle dancing and mid-groove photo sessions. It's been done and I don't understand why this has become the norm. When you are in the flow of a rhythmic, choreographed routine, being thrown into freestyle mode throws off your groove. I would have been happy if this option could have been turned off.

When Grease Dance is at its best, it's more fun than many of the dance games out there. There are times when you will catch yourself laughing with the over-the-top moves you're asked to perform and those are moments of pure joy. The sensors are forgiving, the game is easy and it has decent replay value just because its songs have proven to be timeless. Fans of musical theater and Grease the movie will get a huge kick out of Grease Dance for the Xbox Kinect. Now excuse me while I try to get "Grease Is the Word" out of my head.

Grease Dance is available for Xbox Kinect, PS3 Move, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS at $49.99.