The art of dancing, as far as video games are concerned, was covered for a long time by Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series. It may not have resembled any real type of dancing that you would see at clubs or a party, but it did get people engaged in the activity before deciding to add some real moves to the routine. The arrival of the Wii also saw an evolution in the dancing video game, with Dance Dance Revolution now throwing in Wii Remote and Nunchuk movements to the routine and games like We Cheer using the remotes to simulate cheer maneuvers. After years of understanding what the console can do for dancing games, Ubisoft has decided to throw its hat into the ring with the release of Just Dance. Unfortunately, its efforts to dethrone Konami at its own game prove to be futile, as Just Dance is plagued with enough issues to prevent it from being any fun.
The game features 32 songs to dance with. To play, simply hold the Wii Remote in your right hand and follow along with the on-screen coach. Based on the moves you perform and how well you do them, you'll be given a score for that move alone. At the end of the song, you're ranked along with up to three other players according to the score earned during that time period.
There are a few different modes featured in the game. The Classic mode has you dancing and scoring as stated earlier, and this mode can be played tournament style with variable rounds. Last One Standing places you in a survival situation where several mistakes will boot you out of the game. Strike a Pose has you dancing until instructed to stop. Every failed stop makes you lose a tremendous amount of points until the song ends. Finally, there's warm-up mode where you can simply dance for fun without having to worry about earning points.
There are two aspects that hurt Just Dance tremendously: gameplay and controls. There's really nothing more to do here than imitate the moves on-screen. There are no songs to unlock, no new dancers to reveal, and no new icons to get. There's nothing else compelling you to come back to the game and get a better score or master all of the moves offered in a song. Worse yet, the controls don't do a very good job in detecting whether you made a move or not. More often than not, you can follow exactly what's dictated on-screen but not get it counted as a correct move. At the same time, a few wrong moves performed by the player are not only counted as correct by the game but counted as perfect. These two things alone destroy any interest one may have for this game in party or casual multiplayer situations.
Graphically, the game is pretty plain and uninspiring. Just about everything here is slathered in black with a few white pieces of text for a menu system. When in the game, the backgrounds seem muted with little to no animation occurring, making it feel uninspired. During the game, there's only one thing to pay attention to, and that's the dancer. The art style is interesting since the dancer is basically a white figure with some colors for clothing, but it moves very fluidly, almost like a video recording was made of a dancer and pasted into the game. If only the dancer were accompanied by something else to make things look livelier.
The sound is as good as you can expect from a music title. Most of the 32 songs are recordings from the original artists, and the few covers don't sound too bad. The music comes in clearly with no other effects coming in over the tune. The selection of songs is nice and varied, covering several different pop hits from several different eras. One thing that is curiously missing, though, is Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" from the song selection. With a game titled Just Dance, it would make a bit of sense that Lady Gaga's big hit would be part of the lineup.
As a whole, Just Dance doesn't work out too well. The graphics may be very spartan and the sound may be fine, but the controls and the gameplay just don't cut it. It takes some time before players actually understand what is asked of them, but by that time, the novelty factor has already worn off and the game will be quickly put away in favor of something else. If you're at all curious about the game, the most you should do is rent the title, as buying it will ultimately give you a bad case of buyer's remorse.
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