By SuicidalSnowman 1 Comments
In my last blog I wrote about how a quest for Just Dance 2 also got us saddled with Family Game Night 3. The last blog was a mini-review for Game Night, which I actually think is a pretty decent product if you want to turn your Wii into a family board game, without the hassle of missing pieces and pencil and paper scoring.
Now how about Just Dance 2? The short answer: It's awesome.
Just Dance 2 seems to be looking to get into a little bit of the name confusion sales with the new Kinect dance games being released. Just Dance 2, however, is on the Wii, so therefore it doesn't contain the slick new camera technology. In fact, JD2 (my abbreviation, if a little obnoxious) doesn't even use the Wii Motion Plus controller dongle, just a standard, single Wii-mote pointed device.
Having said all that, I went into this with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. The core gameplay involves following an onscreen dancer through a series of dance moves while holding a Wii-mote. You get scored based on how accurate your moves are, plus there are bonus "Gold Moves" and streak multipliers. You get a score rank, and move onto the next song, or retry the current one. There are several modes, including "Just Dance" which allows you to pick any song by yourself or with up to 4 other people, Dance Battle which opens up competitive styles, and a workout mode. I haven't tried the workout mode yet, so no comments there, but it seems like it just gives you songs and then it makes up a sweat amount.
First of all, let's talk about what this game gets so right: The Technology. Yes, a Wii game that is technically masterful. I know, imagine that. First of all, the game accepts the Wii hardware limitations and works with them, rather than against them. The dancer you follow is a highlighted avatar that is a bright and colorful representation of the actual performer. The African hip-hop has (possibly ignorant) native costumes with headdress, the Jackson 5 song has their trademark dapper suits, the Charleston has flappers. Even Chris Cross has pants that are clearly on backwards. These dancers are a delight to look at and each captures the flavor of the artist and song perfectly. So far, I have not found a single Mii!
The second technology piece is the way the Wii mote works. As said before, no motion plus or nunchuck or any other attachment. This, right away, is genius. The remote is accurate enough to keep you from cheating, but also forgiving enough to not be finicky. You almost always get scored the way you think you should (well, how about the way someone watching you thinks you should...). Anytime you do not understand why you are missing moves, all you need to do is take a step back and realize you probably aren't doing them right. Also, even though you only hold the Wii mote in your right hand, the game almost always can tell when you are doing the left-hand moves correctly. I would guess that instead of programming in the exact positions the remote should be in for each move, the developers instead had dancers play the game, and just said, "Ok, now if the remote moves like that, good." It puts Wii Sports to shame...
Having said that, you can cheat a little bit by not doing the leg moves. For example, if you are supposed to step out and move your arm, a lot of times you can move your arm without stepping and get points.
Now let's go to the mediocre. Rhythm games live and die by their soundtrack, and Just Dance 2 falls into the same category. Some of the songs are great, including Ke$ha, Madonna, Wham!, and even Franz Ferdinand. Some, like the Pussycat Dolls and "Big Girls are Beautiful" miss the mark. There is a download store, but currently there are only 5 additional songs available... There is a mix of original tracks and covers, the covers are all passable, except for Toxic. Even with the heavy auto-tuning they just couldn't even come close.
The choreography varies. Some are very fun, including the Daft Punk remix of Body Moving and the aforementioned Jackson 5. Others are a bit of sleepers, the Pussycat Dolls involves blowing kisses and putting your hands on your hips... My only gripe is that a lot of it is very, very feminine. While I don't mind doing silly, girly dances, there comes a point when I don't want to keep seductively running my hands through my hair or swaying my hips in Toxic. The disco songs are especially fun, and the Sprinkler makes an appearance. Some of the songs also fall into a bad habit of repeating the same 5 moves over and over.
However, this is all balanced against the duet songs with special choreography. My and my girl had an absolute blast with these, as they are a little silly and nicely interactive. This also leads to the game's low point. There is almost no reason to play this by yourself. I suppose you could try to high score songs, but that makes the limited move set readily apparent. This is a party game, or at least a two player game, through and through.
Just Dance 2 isn't for everyone. However, if you have young females, or anyone who likes silly dancing, it is a worthwhile purchase. The gameplay is fun and great for all levels of experience. If your adult friends can relax a bit, it also makes a great party game. Even the most hardcore of gamers will appreciate its approach to problems that have plagued the Wii. Yes, there are some huge shortcomings, including the lack of downloadable additions and any sort of single player incentive, but Just Dance 2 is a solid replacement for a non-Kinect or Move household looking for a dance game.