Multiplayer dancing madness comes to the Wii not in the form of yet another DDR or Guitar Hero clone, but in the unique and completely simplified experience that is Just Dance. Rather than keep pace with colored blocks or keep step with cartoon arrows, Ubisoft’s latest project has players skipping the fake instruments and plastic pads, instead grabbing a single Wii remote and lets up to four players down and dirty anywhere you can skip to the beat. The game features a new innovative synchronized system where the player(s) is to mirror the silhouetted character on screen as closely as possible in order to boost their score(s). There’s no punishment for failure, so just boogie, grove, jive or what ever it is you do JUST DANCE!!!
Unlike most music and rhythm-based games, Just Dance casts aside concepts like hitting multi-colored shapes in step with the beat, fancy tricked-out screens, or in some cases, even maintaining the most accurate performance. If there was ever a game that truly lived up to its name, this would be it, as the game encourages you to do one thing and one thing only – just dance, baby. Setting up a performance is simple, as you’ll get to pick your player icon (think Monopoly) from items like a boot, skateboard, headphones, and more, which shake and groove to the music while you’re rocking out. The gameplay consists of closely mirroring the actions of the onscreen dancer, all while adding your own personal flourishes to impress your friends.
There are pictograms that scroll across the bottom of the screen that help the player to be able to more accurately stay in rhythm, but honestly it’s probably better to just to try and mirror the silhouette. There are also subtitles for the lyrics for every song just in case you wanted to sing along, and these can also be used as a good cue for up coming dance moves. Both lyrics and pictograms and be turned off for the more hardcore elite, just so you know.
Each song is ranked according to the difficulty of its movements and amount of effort needed, ranging from 1 to 3 Stars on both parts. The scoring system is each song grades your performance Great, OK, or X (miss), while hitting combos during play will multiply your score considerably. Extra include a barebones tutorial and progress page that keeps track of what songs you’ve played and how well you’ve done. It’s disappointing that there aren’t more rewards such as unlockable tracks or different artwork to help spice up things after you’ve seen and heard everything.
The variety of music is spread across 32 different tracks that span a wide range of genres, styles, and dance-ready hits from the 70s to some of today’s biggest smashes. Artists such as Gorillaz, MC Hammer, Dee-Lite, Iggy Pop, and even Britney Spears mingle with KC and the Sunshine Band, Katy Perry, Elvis, and so many others. 32 tracks may not sound like a lot up front, but given the simplistic nature of the gameplay itself – and the fact they’re original versions (no covers here) – and you’ve got yourself one packed disc of hits for a relatively low-price.
The visuals of the game are a buffet of pop-culture, dancing and bleach-white silhouettes dressed in various era clothing like bushy afros, short-shorts, and fedoras. There’s even fun costumes they’ll occasionally wear costumes like puppy dogs, nerds, and the strangest cowgirl you’ve ever seen. The colors are powerful and vibrant against the dark background that gives a dance club feel when boogying out to the music. This doesn’t change even when playing multiplayer, as every player onscreen are just represented by the player icons they selected beforehand.
The game does not make fun of you, nor does it stop you because your dance skills leave much to be desired. This really helps feed into the game’s mission of simply letting people have fun with their onscreen icons and just bust a few moves, especially with friends. For those seeking a challenge Stop and Go Mode has the players stopping at random during a song and then pick up at a moments notice. Lives Mode lets you miss only so many moves before failing and having to restart. Another nice feature is the option of playing a short of full version of a song, which allows players greater control on the pace of the gameplay.
Simplicity is key with Just Dance for the Wii, as its blend of psychedelic funkiness and simple Wii remote-only control make this one of the most accessible music games in creation, with plenty of style and song titles (no covers) to choose from. As we’ve come to expect from many Wii games (and most rhythm games in general) the controls can be a little wonky, as the Wii remote won’t always register your exact movements, meaning your performances will often be less than perfect. Still, it’s hard to see how that might be a factor when four players start rocking out to “That’s the Way (I Like It)” into the wee hours of the night…no pun intended.