An interface can make or break a dance game. It is integral to the fun because it essentially is the fun; it is the manner in which the game brings you its supposedly unique brand of dancing entertainment, no matter which platform it is on. The reason that so many console-dwelling dance games have a similar interface is because that particular one simply works. This format almost invariably entails dancing in your living room with the motion-controller input hardware of your chosen console either strapped to you your watching your every move; points are scored depending on your performance, progress is made through the game, the next song plays, and so on. Gone are the Dance Revolution days of dancing on a mat that has buttons to step on, but it's probably best not to rule this interface out entirely. This is because the iOS-based Dancepad is a mobile dance game that involves boogying with your fingers through an interface that is an inventive take on the tile-based input format of Dance Dance Revolution. The result is an entertaining dance game that sits apart from the crowd, but how much can this interface really do?
Firstly, it is an integral part of some gameplay that is actually quite entertaining. When playing through the short and helpful tutorial levels you become familiar with the way things work in the game: ‘left' and ‘right' icons appear on the screen in different combinations and for different lengths of time. With the music playing in the background all the while, you must press either the ‘left' or ‘right' icons not as soon as they appear but when the external circle tightens around them. The icons for both fingers are also colour coded just to make things easier when you're dealing with a faster-paced song. Your moves are rated with various descriptions such as when it either tells you ‘Meh' for a poor performance or praises you for excellence and accuracy. Though this interface is remotely similar to fellow iOS-based dance game Touch Dance 2, this particular interface feels superior because not only does it involve more colour and visual variety but it also takes place on and lets you move gracefully around a virtual dance floor like in Just Dance Disney Party, and what is a dance game without a virtual floor to dance on?
There are a few variations in the moves that you will have to perform as part of the routine. In addition to the standard tapping on the screen, you sometimes have clock-bearing icons that must be held for an amount of time that is indicated by a circular countdown around the icon; you must tap on the icon and hold it until this visual timer counts down. To make things a little more realistic for your dancing fingers you must also perform slide-like moves where you tap an icon, hold it, and then slide it on a pre-determined path indicated by a perforated line or a variety of other shapes. These seemingly minor additions and augmentations to the dance interface may sound insignificant but they make the game more fun in an almost immeasurable manner.
You'll notice that there are only a few songs available initially. This is because you must unlock the more difficult tunes as you progress, including various stages of the tutorial level and then onto different songs by artists such as Sebastian Drums, Nabiha, The Bangerz, and Mayer Hawthorne. You're not likely to find many of the current top-40 hits in this app, but the selection of songs is ample and you'll be more concerned with the incredibly original interface than worrying about whether you'll be able to dance to your favourite song.
DancePad is certainly one of the more unique dance apps out there. It literally turns your mobile device into a portable dance floor, complete with brightly-coloured lights and flashy dance moves performed by your fingers. The interface is most definitely its strong suit, though this is supported by some slick design and pretty impressive presentation that is superior to even some console-based dance games, particularly Dance On Broadway (here you can read a review of Dance On Broadway). The song selection feels limited and you'll be dancing to relatively lesser-known tracks, but the game is of such quality that this shouldn't really matter. The game is arguably more fun to play than the PS3's Dance Dance Revolution, and it feels better-designed than many other dance apps, even Red Bull's Break Dance Champion app. Moonshark have done a great job designing and implementing one of the greatest mobile dance-floor experiences in Dancepad that can be enjoyed by anyone with more than one finger.