Fantasia: Music Evolved is more fun than I expected

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Yesterday I rented Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One) with very little in mind other than to use it as a background activity while having some beers. It turns out to be more fun than I initially expected, which is a pleasant surprise. Coming from Harmonix (of Rock Band fame) I guess I should’ve known up front it would be a quality experience, but Fantasia never really ended up on my radar.

The first thing I noticed about Fantasia is that it seems quite responsive and not at all unpleasant to play (something the 360’s Kinect was somewhat notorious for). Performing the motions feels smooth and enjoyable, and I can’t get enough sweep cues and punch cues. I just enjoy doing the hand motions. The visuals are also pretty superb, and I absolutely love the effects on screen as you perform.


I apologize for the rough cut between songs in the clip above, it’s a bit jarring. 

I’m quite early in the game and it’s not overly challenging, but I assume the performances can be made to be more complex as you progress further into the game. I haven’t yet been able to check out the multiplayer mode and I haven’t unlocked composition spells yet, but I’m excited to dive deeper into the Fantasia experience. I’m just hoping we’ll continue to see some quality Kinect games now that Microsoft has unbundled the Kinect.

If you’re looking for a fun family friendly Kinect experience this holiday season, I highly recommend checking out Fantasia: Music Evolved. If you want some more great Kinect experiences, both Just Dance 2015 and Dance Central Spotlight make for an enjoyable time.

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Just Dance 2015 and Dance Central Spotlight on Xbox One

Yesterday I played my first two Kinect games on the Xbox One. That’s not to say the Kinect hasn’t been useful, I love using it for voice commands, streaming, logging in, switching / snapping apps, changing channels, the list goes on and on. I just haven’t used it to play a Kinect game yet (I have used Kinect features in games and enjoyed it). Last night I downloaded both Just Dance 2015 and Dance Central Spotlight and enjoyed both quite a bit.

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I had never played a Just Dance game before, but right from the start I was impressed. I really love the sleek and quick menus and the collection of songs available is quite enjoyable. The game features about 40 songs but you can buy more for $1.99 a song (we bought a handful including PSY’s “Gangam Style” which is so fun to dance to I’m surprised it wasn’t included in the game).

Just Dance 2015 menu

A look at the menu on Xbox One. You can navigate either with hand motions, voice commands or with a controller.

The dancing in Just Dance 2015 is simple enough to make it accessible to just about anyone, but it can be challenging in a fun way with some more complex moves (some even requiring you to get down on the floor, or hold another dancer). At the end of the song you’re presented with a highlight reel edited by the ‘autodance’ feature which will make you look as good as possible (but still quite goofy if you’re me).

You can choose to share your highlight reel with the Just Dance community and even Facebook if you like. At the moment, however, the Facebook functionality in Just Dance 2015 is not working on the Xbox One for many users. Once it launches the IE app to connect to Facebook there’s a URL redirect error. I’ve e-mailed Ubisoft support (as have many other users) but I haven’t seen a response yet.

My highlight reel from “Gangam Style”. Not the best dancer, but hey there was alcohol involved!

Just Dance 2015 challenges

There’s some multiplayer functionality available in Just Dance 2015 as well. You can compete with other dancers by adding challengers and you’ll see their scores alongside yours throughout the song. These are pre recorded scores you’re competing against but it gives you an incentive to up your game. I’ve also received challenges in my Just Dance feed from other players. I assume the game is curating these challenges rather than being issued by the players, but I haven’t played enough to know for sure. You can also compete against live dancers in the World Dance Floor mode, however I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. When I was playing last night there were on average 25 dancers online in World Dance Floor mode at any given time throughout the evening.

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Dance Central Spotlight is Harmonix’s dancing game available as a $9.99 download on Xbox One. As opposed to Just Dance which bundles 40 songs into a $50 package, Spotlight charges a minimal fee for the game and throws in a small sampler of songs (10 songs) and then allows you to purchase only the songs you want for $1.99 a song (some bundles are available for $3.49). I actually like this business model of charging just for the content you want. There are quite a few DLC songs available for download already with more to come (I picked up “Turn Down for What” and “Party Rock Anthem” so far and plan to pick up a few others).

Dance Central focuses more on a core set of moves and incorporates those moves into the various songs. The game wants you to learn those moves and master them as the difficulty raises and more and more moves are introduced. From my experience Just Dance has unique dances for each song and doesn’t reuse any routines, however this can lead to quite a bit of chaos (which can also be fun). Once you learn the moves of Dance Central it’s easy to nail routines and feel like you’re not just flailing limbs around like what tends to happen in Just Dance.

So far I’m enjoying both games quite a bit and they have me wanting to check out Harmonix’s Fantasia Music Evolved as well. I may end up picking Fantasia up in the few weeks to experience some more Kinect content. If you’re looking for some fun party games that make use of the Kinect I highly recommend checking out Just Dance 2015 and Dance Central Spotlight on the Xbox One.

5 days with an Xbox One

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A look at the new headset controls. I like it!

So I’ve had my Xbox One for about five days and so far it’s been more amazing than I could’ve imagined. I’m in love with voice controls. It’s so easy to swap between apps or games without even picking up a controller. If I get a message I simply say “Xbox go to messages” and in less than 2 seconds I’m seeing my messages. I say “Xbox Go to Dead Rising 3” and I’m back in the game. The quick resume feature is also blowing my mind. I don’t even have to save a game, I just turn the Xbox off and when I turn it back on at a later time I can jump right back into whatever game I was playing at the exact same spot without any loading screens or title screens. Pretty awesome!

I’m loving the entire Xbox One experience. I’ve been watching TV on it via DISH Network and it works seamlessly. The other day I snapped TV and watched Modern Marvels while playing Call of Duty Ghosts. It was great because I could listen to the program as I played and if something piqued my interest I could glance up at the top right corner and see what was going on. Also I’d watch while waiting to respawn or while matches were loading.

 

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History Channel and Call of Duty

I’m also loving the whole Xbox ecosystem more than ever. The Xbox Music app is pretty awesome. The menus and the way it displays artist pictures as you’re listening is very pleasant. I’ve enjoyed using it as I’ve done things around the house and most likely will remain a subscriber for $9.99/mo. Would it be nice if they threw in Xbox Music for free for Gold subscribers? Sure, but with music royalty fees I can’t see anyway they’d be able to do that. Spotify is a similar service and is also $9.99 a month for the full featured version.

I rented a movie using Xbox Video last night and it was quick and easy. It was actually quicker to rent a movie using the Xbox than it would’ve been via DISH On Demand or Amazon Instant Video. The quality was great and I got a few achievements in the process (app achievements are all worth 0 points so far, but will show up in your achievement list and feed as being accomplished).

Playing with friends is as easy as ever and I enjoy the party system / app. I played a bit of Call of Duty Extinction with my buddy last night and it was a great time.

I’m also loving the Xbox DVR and Upload Studio features. I’ve made quite a few videos and uploaded them to SkyDrive with ease. If you want to share these videos on Facebook or YouTube you simply logon to your SkyDrive account and you can download the .MP4 file to do with as you please. I’ll be sharing some of my videos soon, but right now I’m at Starbucks so I won’t upload them all here. I’ve been uploading them to Facebook for now but will put a few up on YouTube to share here.

I played about an hour of Dead Rising 3 last night and it’s an absolute blast. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had in awhile. Creating weapon combos and wreaking havoc on HUNDREDS of on screen zombies is a constant rush. It’s also fun to hop in a car or a steamroller and flatten zombies by the dozen.

One thing to note, the games require huge updates! Forza 5 required a 9GB update right off the bat and Dead Rising 3 required a 13GB update! The good news is that once the update is about a quarter of the way done you can start playing the game.

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I still have yet to play RYSE but will probably play some today if I can pull myself away from Dead Rising 3 and Call of Duty Ghosts. If you’d like to play a game, add or follow me on Xbox Live. My gamertag is Darth Gumballs.

I’ll post some gameplay videos when I have the chance, until then have a good day!