While Dance Central on Kinect nailed the dance genre with its first step, many developers are still struggling to turn PlayStation Move into a fruitful dancing experience. Konami's venerable DanceDanceRevolution series had a first go, and Sony's own SingStar Dance had some things going for it, but there's still not a killer app dancing game. Is this the title to break this cold streak?
Ubisoft's previous efforts in the genre have disappointed: Dance on Broadway scored 3/10 here, and Michael Jackson: The Experience only scored marginally better with 4/10. Let's Dance with Mel B is worse.
The game supports up to eight players, although only two can dance simultaneously, with the multiplayer modes on offer being a simple one-off dance, a survival mode for two players and a team or individual battle for as many as eight dancers. As far as content goes, that's it — there's no tutorial, no career and nothing to unlock. There's also only one difficulty per song, vastly restricting the game's appeal.
Limiting its appeal further, however, is the appalling motion detection: despite having to calibrate Move between every song we still found the game struggled to read our movements accurately. In fact, we were able to score 12,000 points by sitting down, setting the controller in our lap and bouncing our knee up and down. Other occasions saw us rewarded for wheeling our arms around like an irate chimp. To make matters worse, the pause menu allows you to switch this so-called "advanced tracking" off, with a warning that the basic tracking is in fact less accurate than the standard set-up and should only be used if you encounter issues. Quite how switching to a system the developer freely admits is less accurate would help with issues is anybody's guess, but we noticed no clear differences between the two.
Perhaps the game would be able to track your actions more reliably if it could more accurately explain what it expects you to do. The dance bar scrolling across the top only displays a still image of what the move could be, so it's a guessing game from there: while the picture might be a man stood still with arms folded, you might need to swing your arms around, jump and do the monkey before folding your arms. It'd be laughable if it weren't so absolutely crucial to the game.
All this is compounded by the terrible implementation of a murky on-screen video from the PlayStation Eye. Rather than attempt to remove you from your surroundings, the oval-shaped video grows and shrinks depending on the move at hand, but it's so poorly done it looks like the Lost smoke monster dancing in a Portal.
Let's Dance with Mel B is terrible. The assembled soundtrack might provide some glimmer of enjoyment if it weren't accessed through an horrendously inaccurate and poorly designed dancing game, which gives you no clue what to do next and then punishes you. We can't urge you any more strongly to stay away.