Dance Collider VR Game Review — Satisfying Arm Cascades and EDM Galore

Credit to: emergeWorlds

Dance Collider is a danceaholic’s rhythm VR game. If you like the body movement and music of BOX VR and Beat Saber, and the diamond mine of other rhythm-based games out there, Dance Collider by emergeWorlds needs to be added to your VR game wishlist.

Available On: Steam (Vive, Rift,), Oculus Store (Rift)

Preparation

Credit to: emergeWorlds

To prep for Dance Collider, I made sure to wear my Fitbit Blaze to track the workouts that I did for 27 to 30 minutes per session on Normal because Easy wasn’t a challenge for me.

I always wear a bandana to protect my hair from breaking off from the velcro strap on my Oculus headset and also to keep the sweat and excess moisture from seeping into the headset with a VR cover.

This game has EDM music from across multiple subgenres by Canadian artist Jesse Valentine or F-777 that plays all around you as you dance through 3 stages per character.

If you’re a fan of electronic music and dancing (or mimicking dance), Dance Collider’s 24 futuristic stages, 8 songs, and 8 unique smack talking characters will be a great mini-workout and coordination exercise that you’ll want to bust a move in.

Game Tips:

  • The game’s difficulty modes are Easy, Normal, and Pro.
  • You’re equipped with a pink and green neon node blockers to match node flurries flying in from above, below, down the middle, as well as right and left sides. Watch your peripheral if you can!
  • The game has standard pink and green neon nodes that you hit individually or in doubles for points. Hit harder for more points.
  • There is a yellow star that gets hit with both hands/controllers at the same time for points. This is a score multiplier and will happen only a few times through each song.
  • The game’s cascades are long pink and green chains that you hold your hands/controllers through. These will swirl and twist from different directions above and below, but they also multiply your score, so pay attention to those quick changes.
  • There are interlinking nodes that look like they are connected by wire. Hit these and don’t miss. If you miss, it breaks the chain and the multiplier goes away.
  • There is another type of fast-moving node that flies at you in super speed. You can tell these types of nodes when they barrel towards you and by their smokey appearance of pink and green. It’s going to take a lot of practice and coordination to hit them accurately.

Intensity 6/10

I played Dance Collider and this is my workout data. Credit to: Juanita Leatham via Fitbit Blaze

Dance Collider’s intensity depends on your level of fitness and which level of difficulty you pick. I chose Normal because the first 3 stages I did were in Easy and it wasn’t giving me enough of a challenge. If you’re just getting back into movement and exercise, start off with Easy and work your way up to Normal and then Pro.

For this game review, I tested all 8 characters in Normal, however, for the sake of time, I’m focusing on 3 characters and 3 stages a piece (9 total stages). I spent around 27 minutes dancing, punching, and moving to these jams.

First, I faced off against Lais with her trance song “Atlantis” at 128 BPM for all 3 stages, that lasted between 2:27 to 2:52 (min: sec).

Then, I played against Sonya and her electropunk song “Riot” that was 110 to 170 BPM per stage and lasted from 2:32 to 2:50.

Last, I challenged Core to the dubstep song “Oblivion” which went from 135 to 160 BPM per stage, with a duration of 2:19 to 2:49.

Overall, Dance Collider gave me a decent 27-minute workout where I burned 5.4 cals/min for 27 minutes (~3 mins was waiting in lobby or in between stages).

My Dance Collider data. Credit to: Juanita Leatham via Fitbit Blaze

Calories Burned: 147 Calories

Average Heart Rate: 115 BPM

Max Heart Rate: 128 BPM

Arms 7/10

This is a heavy arm game where punching both single and steams of neon pink and green nodes are going to gather you more points. Double punching the yellow node (the star) and dual pink and green nodes are great for the arms and chest. It also adds variety to matching and individually punching pink and green nodes to the beat of electro-punk and other EDM tracks.

There’s going to be lots of node cascades, which means that you’ll be holding out and adjusting your controllers and arms to the long chains of swerving and curving nodes. This isn’t especially tiring to the arms until it gets more complicated and you have to move your arms up and down or side to side quickly.

There are node placements that make this game great for working out the arms, shoulders, and chest. These go criss-cross and even make you reach down low and quickly adjust (almost) behind you for new node placements. When the pink and the green nodes are flipped you’ll have to shift arms over each other.

There are also lots of timing and coordination moves where you’ll outstretch your arm to hold a cascade and then punch with the free hand in zigzags and over and under motions. A lot of these movements feel a lot like hitting a speed bag in boxing.

Check out how players groove to Dance Collider in the clip below!

Legs 4/10

As a platform dance game, the leg movement in Dance Collider is minimal when playing at Easy and Normal. This is unless you intentionally squat low or keep leg placement apart at a hips-width distance to anchor yourself and to move towards nodes.

Hit low placed nodes or follow cascades that start high and go low, start low and go high, or to build up to a higher arc or spiral. This is a room scale game, but it isn’t a game that’s going to make you move around the room as a combat game would.

Core and Balance 5/10

Using the leg movement to reach up and down, left and right, and even turning to quickly hit nodes hanging out in your periphery will work your core and balance. I call the nodes that come in behind or to the side of you jump scare nodes because you won’t see them coming when you’re fully turned towards the other direction.

Criss-cross arm movements that have nodes flying in at different sides will activate the core because it requires you to adjust to the quick change of body movement. This quick movement is how boxers punch left and right sides of a punching bag. Have your guardian system on because the jump scare nodes and the nodes streaming in from left, right, above and below were disorienting at first.

Time Perception 7/10

I thought that the 27 minutes that was spent in Dance Collider went by quickly when I was dancing and punching nodes to the music. Picking a character and the scorecard/leaderboard in between the stages felt like it dropped my heart rate a bit and I think that kind of pulled me out of the immersion.

Having a quick start to bypass the scorecard/leaderboard section would also help with keeping the game progressing forward as a workout. I liked knowing my accuracy, power, streaks, sets, max multipliers, and cascade scores but staying in this part for a few seconds too long reminded me that I had another one or two more rounds, and thus, pulled me out of immersion a little.

Replayability 6/10

I think that in early access, Dance Collider is replay worthy but is rated at an above mid-range 6 because it has some stuff to work out with its node placement before full release. The jump scare nodes were a challenge but also threw me off a bit, which drove my score down. Placing these closer towards my eye line (closer to the platform) and out of my periphery is a good place to start.

Having the smokey effect for the fast moving nodes is too thick and seeps into each other, making it hard to see the nodes. Not being able to clearly see the nodes makes it really hard to hit and match node colors with so much going on. Dialing back the speed at which their flying towards your face will also help build replay confidence.

Overall, I’d replay this game because it has lots of cool cascade spirals that are starting to really grow on me. This isn’t and shouldn’t be ultimately compared to BOXVR or Beat Saber, rather they’re a referential starting point. Dance Collider is a unique rhythm and pretty much a boxing-esque game with some pretty sweet EDM music.

The game is also looking to build their game with a song editor, user-created beat maps, and modifications to increase the difficulty. These possible updates make me want to see where they take this game!

Fitness Scalability 7/10

Dance Collider has a lot of potential as a fitness game for VR. It’s got an upper body workout that’s great but needs some tightening. And it has a mixed core and leg workout that needs strengthening. When emergeWorlds dials this in, it’ll become a better fitness game.

Also, I think that creating fresh beat maps and releasing new music choices over time will take this game to greater heights. Music is a powerful fitness motivator and even helps us power through fatigue, so this game gets a 7 as it is now.

Social Competition 2/10

This game is a single player game but has 8 unique characters you dance off against. These characters have backstories and personalities, but I didn’t feel like I was competing against these characters more than I was trying to accurately connect with the nodes.

It felt like characters were just talking a lot of game at me before and after the match. Maybe even during the matches? I’m not sure if they were saying anything because I was focused on hitting the nodes more than listening to what they had to say.

Overall, I wish Dance Collider had PvP so I could challenge my friends to a face-off.

VRFI Final Fit Score 5.5/10

The Good

  • Song variety and the mix of characters were a great addition.
  • Works as a single player and is an interesting concept that puts player vs. NPC.
  • Great upper body game with leg and core movement.
  • Effective variety of punches, arm movements, and cascades are satisfying.

The Bad

  • Wish it had PvP.
  • The leg movement could be dialed in for a wider range of activity.
  • Jump scare nodes need to be timed farther apart so players can look around for a second.
  • Fast moving nodes and smoke graphics need to be dialed back for visibility and achievable timing.


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