Dancing and video games have been matching beats for quite some time now. Starting with Parappa, the Rapper and followed by Beatmania and Bust a Move, the rhythm action game genre really gained steam with Konami’s hit Dance Dance Revolution series that debuted in arcades almost 20 years ago in 1998. DDR’s fitness potential is so good that it has been approved as an exercise alternative in many school’s PE programs. During my time working at Konami, I had the pleasure of working on several mobile Dance Dance Revolution games. That experience and my current work in virtual reality made me excited to play Holodance and see just how many calories I can shake off while playing a rhythm action game in VR.

Preparation

I put on my dancing shoes and strapped on my trusty Apple watch to track the workout. I also added the TPCast wireless upgrade kit to give myself a bit more mobility. I like to think I looked something like this but the video I captured shows something else entirely. Not quite sure what happened there…

Intensity – 6/10

  • Workout duration: 30 minutes
  • Calories burned: 173 active / 223 total
  • Average heart rate: 92 BPM
  • Max heart rate: 125

Arms – 8/10

The design for this game has a lot of frantic arm motions.  Instead of focusing on a punching style of rhythm game, the designers have added a lot of opportunities for the Player to interact with the various UI components. For example, a lot of the game play interactions require you to connect with graphic elements and then move your hand back and forth along the UI design. This results in more sweeping arm movements and puts the player through a greater range of motion, a good thing.

Legs – 1/10

The game loses a lot of its fitness potential by ignoring Player leg movement and positioning. The developer could be easily remedy this by requiring Players to move back and forth between “lanes” and then bonus their score appropriately. Additionally, having some of the hand based interactions move lower to the floor would require the Player to bend their legs, which would increase the quality of the leg workout greatly. No skipping leg day right?

Core and Balance 6/10

Due to the sweeping arm motions that this game generates, core and balance workout was above average. Moving to the music beat and constantly moving hand interactions between calls for an active stance, this style of play greatly contributes to this element of the workout.

Time Perception 7/10

Time dilation was great. After running through multiple songs, I was surprised that 30 minutes passed as quickly as it did. I expect this is partially due to the length of the music tracks and the Player’s ability to immerse themselves into the beat. I felt like I was getting a good workout but could easily see myself going for another 20 minutes before feeling like it was time to logout.

Replayability 9/10

Holodance has great replay potential. The game currently has a lot of music track options through Osu! and will eventually have its own editor that allows you to use your own music library. At that point, the game engine analyzes the music that’s being piped into the game play and adjusts accordingly. This inspires the Player’s to want to come back not just to experience new music but also to master the interactive interpretation of their favorite tracks.

Fitness Scalability 6/10

The fitness scalability for Holodance is focused quite heavily on the fact that the Player is in control of the music that’s selected for the experience. A higher BPM track will obviously deliver a better workout. That being said, there is probably an upper limit to the BPM that separates a solid and controlled workout experience from frantic spasming that may occur when trying to play with a music genre such as Speed Metal.

Lack of Nausea 4/10

Holodance’s UI design can cause a little bit of visual disorientation and that typically causes some degree of nausea. Essentially, the beat elements intersect with a 2D grid that appears directly in front of the Player. As the beat elements intersect with the grid, other UI elements such as score modifiers and like are likewise thrust at the Player. This repeatedly shifts the Player’s in-game focal point between close, mid and far distances, causing discomfort. It also distracts from the Player’s view of upcoming beat elements. Removing the impact grid would go a long way in reducing any visual disorientation and also allow the Player to focus more on mid and far focal points, a crucial requirement for good beat matching games such as this.

Social Competition

Holodance is currently lacking on supporting good community features. It’s currently a single player game with score matching on music tracks. There are plans for multiplayer support in the future and that should make a real difference for those looking for a community experience.

VRFI Fit Score 6/10

The Good

  • Fun and entertaining
  • Access to lots of music tracks and beatmaps
  • Enough movement and action to get the heart pumping

The Bad

  • UI can get in the way and cause disorientation
  • Currently requires and an Osu! account
  • No real leg workout capability

Holodance is a fun and invigorating experience. Obviously, getting exercise while interacting with some good music is always a great idea. From a fitness perspective, I would recommend Holodance to be a great 15 – 20 minute warm up to get the blood flowing before something more strenuous. Conversely, it would make a great cool down as well if you chose the right music. The forthcoming updates, especially multiplayer features, will definitely add to the game and is something to keep an eye on.

If you are interested in staying up to speed on what great VR fitness alternatives are out there then make sure to keep checking in with vrfitnessinsider.com. Fitness and games have always been a passion for me so I’m stoked be reviewing games and also working on awesome VR fitness tech at Black Box VR.

 

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