It used to be that if people wanted to play a game and “dance,” they did so with the assistance of a mat-style controller of some kind. Games like Dance Dance Revolution and In the Groove reigned in arcades and living rooms with their simple-yet-complex combination of arrows to step on. Sure, it sometimes looked like a lower-body seizure, but those who appreciated the speed and skill it took to hit those arrows revered the masters of the craft. But with the advent of motion controls, now it takes actual dancing skills to own the virtual dance floor. Just Dance’s premiere on the Wii changed everything, but Just Dance 2015 proves that the series may have outgrown its Wii remote roots.
Just Dance 2015 is packed with over 70 songs, a variety of performances ranging from single-person routines to four-person dance ensembles. Unlike the games mentioned prior, you’ll need to perform all sorts of twists, jumps, spins, hand movements, and more to score points. As someone who grew up on DDR (and possesses rhythm but no ability to dance), playing and reviewing this game not only gave me minor panic attacks, but also finally convinced me to put up the curtains in my apartment that I’ve been putting off for months. Don’t let that put you off, though; the Just Dance series has come a long way since its beginnings, making for the perfect party game for those without shame.
If we talk about the game itself and not the platform it was played on, there’s tons of good things to say about it. There are plenty of modern songs to choose from, with varieties ranging from pop to hip-hop to R&B, with even a sprinkling of “Let it Go” for those who hadn’t already let whatever it was go yet. Though there’s no way to tell if a song is going to be easy or difficult before you actually try it, there’s a pretty good variety of difficulties available to play. And for those with a karaoke itch, you can sing alongside dancing performers to get bonus credits and help unlock new dance routines. The dance moves themselves range from cool, music video-ready maneuvers to goofy party humor (like the entire routine for the Tetris song).
If there’s anything wrong with the game itself, it’s that too much of it falls flat without someone else in the room to play it with; sultry duets like Enrique Iglasias’ “Bailando” feel hollow alone, and even “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” feels weird when trying to fall into the arms of a person who isn’t there. These team songs are the best parts of the game, even though trying to match Lady Gaga’s choreography for “Bad Romance” is fun (and terrifying), too.
Where the Playstation and Xbox versions of the game both utilize full-motion cameras to capture your moves (definitely the way to go), the Wii U version relies on motion captured from the Wii remote to convey score. This means that technically, so long as your right hand is doing all the right steps, the rest of your body doesn’t matter. This was a boon for someone as uncoordinated as me, but it’s obvious that Just Dance 2015’s moves aren’t made to be done with a controller in your hand. Crawling, twirling, hand-holding, leapfrogging, and more feel impaired by the presence of a bulky Wii remote. And, even though a part of me felt blessed that the game wasn’t judging my footwork, I felt less accomplished knowing that the game’s “Perfects” had everything to do with one hand and nothing to do with the other hand or my feet. Even the game’s multiplayer mode suffers as a result of the Wii U; though you can record gameplay videos and post them online, you’d have to prop up the Wii U Gamepad to get the camera to record the performance if you’re willing to go through the effort. Needless to say I didn’t try that feature.
If just you’re looking for a new way to burn a few calories and aren’t so much worried about the gameplay component then Just Dance 2015 might be for you. If the only way you can play it is on the Wii U then grab your Wiimote and dance to your heart’s content. That said, if you’ve got a PS Move Camera or an Xbox Kinect sensor around, shell out the extra ten dollars and grab the game for either of those platforms; the moves just aren’t as slick as they should be on the Wii U.