Just Dance Review

I recently broke from my regularly scheduled action/adventure/shooter/platformer/fighting/sports/strategy/rpg playing to take a critical look at a game that I can honestly say I never expected to see in my Nintendo Wii. Fortunately, though, I did try out Ubisoft’s Just Dance, because I ended up having a pretty good time gettin’ down, just dancing.

Although my level of embarrassment when first beginning to play was unprecedented for a videogame — I was alone in my house and still felt awkward about mirroring the on-screen moves — after a little loosening up, I got into the groove and started putting forth the true effort the game demands. Soon I had danced through 30 songs and worked up a decent sweat.

Just Dance

The game’s basic premise is to mimic the on-screen professional dancers who demonstrate each song’s choreographed moves in time with the music while holding a motion-tracked Wii remote in one hand. Because of the Wiimote-only input, the upper body is the most important part of each dance, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that being lazy and trying to focus solely on the Wii remote position without doing the dance moves was less conducive to a high score, while really getting into the songs and bustin’ moves yielded much better results. Overall the game does a good job of figuring out how you’re performing, but sometimes gestures are not detected for whatever reason — likely because there are many ways to hold the Wii remote that differ from the way the game shows players at startup, and it’s easy to do it incorrectly. Each new move is telegraphed by a little silhouette sliding along the bottom of the screen, so no, you don’t need the reflexes of a reflection to do them correctly. Points are awarded based on timing and accuracy, with chains of well-executed moves netting extra. Bad, good, and great moves are tabulated at the end of each song and displayed as percentages along with each player’s overall score.

Unlike other rhythm games, there is no progression, advancement, or unlocking later songs by completing earlier ones; everything is available from the very beginning. To seasoned gamer-types, this is a flaw, as we’ve come to expect the former design from games in the genre, but immediate availability of all of the game’s content also makes Just Dance a ready-to-go party-maker in a box. Players can jump right into either Quick Play mode, where you simply pick a song and dance, or Challenge mode, which has three gametypes designed for multiplayer competition. In challenge mode, players will choose songs and either have a standard battle for maximum points, play a “red light, green light”-style Strike A Pose game, or compete in a Last One Standing contest, where all players begin with seven lives and lose one for every mistake they make. In all modes, songs come in either “full” or very truncated “short” versions.

The game features 32 danceable tunes from the 60s to today, and each is rated according to the difficulty of its moves as well as the energy level of the dance. The game features plenty of disco, techno, pop, and rock music, but I found the absence of my personal favorite popular genres to dance to — latin, reggae, reggaeton — quite conspicuous. Otherwise, the mix was good and the tracks were almost all recognizable hits. I think that anyone who truly enjoys dancing (college girls, I’m looking at you) will absolutely have fun with this game, especially with a group of friends. I was only able to test it out with one other dancer, but that yielded lots of laughter, so a four-player session (the game’s max) would most likely be completely off the wall.

Just Dance‘s biggest flaw is its lack of depth as compared to other games in the music genre. As mentioned earlier, there is little forward progression within the framework of the game, and the 32 included tracks are far less than what gamers have come to expect from offerings from the Rock Band and X Hero franchises. Downloadable content would certainly help fix the problem, but unfortunately, no such DLC is in sight. The game’s biggest asset, however, is that it can be a whole lot of fun for the right audience, and that audience is sure to love it despite its very basic nature. In any event, it’s at least worth renting to laugh at with your friends.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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