Wii

North America

Just Dance

by Pedro Hernandez - January 9, 2010, 4:34 pm PST
Total comments: 22

6.5

An interesting take on the dance genre that's not as polished as it should be.

A good friend of mine once said, "No matter how you dance, you are a better dancer then the one who is standing still." In a way, this sums up Ubisoft's Just Dance. Just Dance is a dancing simulator that focuses on busting a move, no matter how bad you do it or what song you're doing it to. It's all about partaking in the fun of dancing. It has some good ideas, but also some flaws that keep it from being truly amazing.

The object of Just Dance is a simple one. An on-screen dancer does a routine based on a song, and the player must replicate the dance moves in time to the beat of the song. This is done according to how the player is holding the Wii Remote, and how much movement he or she is putting into the performance. Movements such as arm thrusts, claps, arm shakes, swaying, hip shakes, and more are detected by the Wii Remote. This design is similar to how We Cheer 2 and the dancing mini-game in Ubisoft's own Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party implement dance choreography with the Wii Remote.

There are two main gameplay modes. The first is Quick Play, which has you select a song and perform it in order to get the highest score possible. Each song is rated in two categories: difficulty and effort. The more stars the song has, the more effort will have to be put into the performance. The second mode of play is Challenge. Challenge provides three gameplay modes: Regular (which works like Quick Play), Strike a Pose (a group dance variation of the game Red Light, Green Light), and Last One Standing (the player with the least mistakes wins). All modes can be played with up to three other players.

Another option is Warm Up. Just Dance recommends players to warm up before taking on the game. It works like the main game, except the movements you do are for warm up purposes. A very clever and much appreciated addition, especially since Just Dance also works as an exercise game due to how it encourages players to get up and put as much energy as possible onto their performances.

That said, a lack of multiple gameplay options puts a hurt on Just Dance's overall package. You'll truly see what the game has to offer in less than 30 minutes, surely turning off music and rhythm game fans that are used to very robust music games on the Wii.

Instead of using two Wii Remotes or the Nunchuk for more accurate gameplay, Just Dance uses only one Wii Remote. This leads to some confusion when it comes to doing a dance move with the controllerless hand. Motion detection is also spotty. Timing is everything, so you have to pay attention to the dancer on screen and mimic the moves. Just Dance mentions that it detects the motion of your body, and how much energy it detects is based on how your movements match those of the on-screen dancer. However, even if your timing is spot-on the game fails to register your movements at times.

More confusion is created by the pictogram on-screen cues. While it's obvious that you have to mimic the choreography of the virtual dancer, the bottom of the screen also features scrolling poses indicating what you need to do. The confusion comes from the fact that the instructions sometimes contradict themselves, making it look like timing relies on the pose you make rather than the movements you do. This, however, can be properly mastered with practice, and its design makes it a complex task. While gameplay is not as polished as in Namco Bandai's We Cheer 2, it is very easy to learn initially. Once you "get it", Just Dance becomes very enjoyable, very enduring, and extremely silly and fun. It's the closest thing to a dance simulator on the Wii.

Just Dance features over 30 songs, all of them master tracks from the original recordings. With the game being all about fun, the songs selected reflect that almost to a fault, diving deep into one-hit wonder territory. Some of the songs include Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out", "Wanna Be" by the Spice Girls, and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". Needless to say, if you are not a fan of pop songs then Just Dance's song list will be a huge turn off. There are no other unlockable songs and there's no option to download more.

The overall presentation is colorful but extremely minimalistic. The menus feature vibrant neon colors reminiscent of 80s fashion. The biggest graphical flourish in Just Dance are the on-screen dancers. Instead of 3D models, they are presented in a manner similar to the dancing shadow people from the famous iPod commercials, and it gets the job done while not being overly distracting.

In a way, Just Dance is just like an up- and-coming dancer. It's very rough but shows promise, especially when played with friends. It doesn't have that many gameplay options, and the song list may make the game embarrassing to play for some. But if you put aside your inhibitions, turn off your pride, and pick up a Wii Remote you are likely to forget everything, have some fun, and do as the title says… Just Dance!

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 7 6.5 6.5 6 6.5
Graphics
6

They're very simple, but they present the concept well enough. The colors are eye-popping, and the shadow dancers liven things up a bit.

Sound
7

Just Dance uses the original recordings, so no cover songs are present. However, the songs used are often of the cheesy, guilty pleasure kind. They fit the fun theme well, but gamers who aren't fans of the pop genre could be turned off by it.

Control
6.5

The game only uses one Wii Remote for movement detection, and while it generally worksthere are times in which it will not properly detect movement no matter how well you mimic the choreography. However, it works most of the time so it doesn't ruin the overall gameplay.

Gameplay
6.5

This game is a unique one in that it aims to be more than just your typical music game; it's more of a dance simulator. The idea is slightly hindered by some motion control issues and a lack of additional game modes. But with enough practice, the right audience, and the right atmosphere, Just Dance is very enjoyable.

Lastability
6

There are only two modes of play, and with only 32 tracks you will see what the game has to offer very quickly. Its replay value, however, lies in group play. Just Dance will enjoy a lot of play time with the right group of friends.

Final
6.5

Just Dance is a commendable effort from Ubisoft that tries to do something new. It's very rough, and a little more polish could have made it something special. With an over-abundance of band games on the Wii, Just Dance proves to be a breath of fresh air, even if it's very silly and likely to become a guilty pleasure for many.

Summary

Pros
  • Great party game
  • Soundtrack features original master tracks
  • Unique gameplay
Cons
  • Motion sensing doesn't work as well as it should
  • Not a lot of modes to choose from
  • Soundtrack features some very cheesy tracks
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

MorariJanuary 10, 2010

I can't help but think that this game would have benefited from use of an EyeToy or Project Natal type of device. Hell, even that Jenny McCarthy exercise game makes use of the included webcam to that degree. As it is, the game offers no real reason to play, since it barely recognizes motions in one hand. The title is really for non-gamers that like to watch iPod commercials.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 10, 2010

Yeah, MotionPlus and Balance Board support would have also helped the game out immensely. Just Dance feels like a true dancing game. Other dance games just have you stepping on arrows or patterns. The games tries to change this by actually making the player dance and even learn choreography.

The idea is there, but the controls hinder it.

MorariJanuary 10, 2010

I could definitely see two M+ controllers (one in each hand) working fairly well.

DAaaMan64January 10, 2010

Does it have the lady gaga song its named after?

KDR_11kJanuary 10, 2010

No, that's a frequently made complaint.

TJ SpykeJanuary 10, 2010

What I find surprising if they had Goichi Suda play the game and give his opinions (watch on iTunes or GameTrailers). I have no interest in dancing games, so I won't be getting this game (maybe in a couple of years if I find a used copy for $5. I will give any game a chance for $5).

No GaGa? No GoGo.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 10, 2010

Yes, I too was surprised at Gaga's absence despite the title.

Mop it upJanuary 10, 2010

So can we expect a copyright infringement lawsuit sometime soon?

MorariJanuary 11, 2010

Quote from: DAaaMan64

Does it have the lady gaga song its named after?

I had to look that one up. I've never even heard of Lady Gaga before. The song seems like it would have fit in well however. It was "Eye of the Tiger" that I'm still not sure worked.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 11, 2010

Quote from: Mop_it_up

So can we expect a copyright infringement lawsuit sometime soon?

Not really, since "Just Dance" is an universal expression no one owns. Now, if Ubi had covered Gaga's song without permission then it would be an issue.

Something I just realized about the soundtrack. There are very few modern songs in the game. All the songs are from the early to late 80s/90s, from artists that are no longer performing due to retirement or because they were one hit wonders. These songs are likely easier to use because their royalty fees are cheaper, and the game is extremely cheap. Had they tried to use a Gaga song, an artist that is extremely popular around the world right now, they would have to pay her a pretty penny, something Ubi wasn't ready to do for this game.

Quote from: NWR_pap64

Something I just realized about the soundtrack. There are very few modern songs in the game. All the songs are from the early to late 80s/90s, from artists that are no longer performing due to retirement or because they were one hit wonders. These songs are likely easier to use because their royalty fees are cheaper, and the game is extremely cheap. Had they tried to use a Gaga song, an artist that is extremely popular around the world right now, they would have to pay her a pretty penny, something Ubi wasn't ready to do for this game.

On that note...

... any ABBA? &P

TJ SpykeJanuary 11, 2010

The soundtrack: http://justdancegame.us.ubi.com/#/about-the-game-soundtracks

Dee Dee Sharp - "It's Mashed Potato Time"
The Trashmen - "Surfin' Bird"
The Beach Boys - "I Get Around"
Elvis Presley vs. Junkie XL - "A Little Less Conversation"
KC and the Sunshine Band - "That's the Way (I Like It)"
Chic - "Le Freak"
Blondie - "Heart of Glass"
Anita Ward - "Ring My Bell"
Irene Cara - "Fame"
Kim Wilde - "Kids In America"
Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger"
Cyndi Lauper - "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"
Technotronic - "Pump Up the Jam"
Deee-Lite - "Groove Is in the Heart"
MC Hammer - "U Can't Touch This"
New Kids on the Block - "Step by Step"
Iggy Pop - "Louie Louie"
Reel 2 Real - "I Like to Move It"
Blur - "Girls & Boys"
Presidents of the USA - "Lump"
Rednex - "Cotton Eye Joe"
The Spice Girls - "Wannabe"
Baha Men - "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Kylie Minogue - "Can't Get You Out of My Head"
Fatboy Slim - "Jin Go Lo Ba"
Gorillaz - "Dare"
Divine Brown - "Bebe"
Caesars - "Jerk It Out"
Calvin Harris - "Acceptable in the 80s"
The B-52s - "Funplex (CSS remix)"
Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold"
The Gym All-Stars - "Womanizer"

Quote from: TJ

Reel 2 Real - "I Like to Move It"

Quick! Someone tell Crimm!
*Fondly Remembers Miami Nights: Singles in the City"

Quote from: TJ

Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold"

Crikey, is it me or is this song everywhere in dance games? Or at least, I remember it was included in Boogie Superstar.

Mop it upJanuary 11, 2010

Quote from: NWR_pap64

Had they tried to use a Gaga song, an artist that is extremely popular around the world right now

Is that so? This is only the second time I've heard of her, the first being from a Saturday Night Live incident.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 11, 2010

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Quote from: NWR_pap64

Had they tried to use a Gaga song, an artist that is extremely popular around the world right now

Is that so? This is only the second time I've heard of her, the first being from a Saturday Night Live incident.

I didn't heard of her either until her infamous MTV Awards appearance. I then heard that she has a huge fanbase, and created an online meme of sorts thanks to her crazy outfits.

PlugabugzJanuary 11, 2010

So far this is the first attempt to Beyonce's Bootylicious Dance Mix. Good, but more please. 4 years later.

*continues waiting*

BlackNMild2k1January 11, 2010

Ubisoft should definitely follow this up with a camera supported version (M+ too?) since they are likely the only ones to support the peripheral even though it was made with the help of Nintendo.

TJ SpykeJanuary 11, 2010

I don't have cable or satellite but even I knew about Lady Gaga long before her appearence at the VMA's. Her song "Poker Face" was one of the biggest hits of last summer and her previous single ("Just Dance") was also a big hit.

MorariJanuary 12, 2010

Quote from: BlackNMild2k1

Ubisoft should definitely follow this up with a camera supported version (M+ too?) since they are likely the only ones to support the peripheral even though it was made with the help of Nintendo.

The game would then be very, very fun.

StratosJanuary 12, 2010

Quote from: TJ

I don't have cable or satellite but even I knew about Lady Gaga long before her appearence at the VMA's. Her song "Poker Face" was one of the biggest hits of last summer and her previous single ("Just Dance") was also a big hit.

Don't forget "Paparazzi!!!!"

Her newest single is 'Telephone' and Beyonce is featured in it.

So... I had bought a copy of this some months ago but haven't opened it until now for a variety of reasons.

For all the flack this game gets, I'm actually having some decent fun with it so far. To me, it goes completely in the opposite direction of a game like We Cheer though, which is highly focused on precisely nailing routines and motions in order to be competitive and progress. Just Dance is more like one of those home Karaoke mics that gives you a rating at the end of the song. No one really cares how well they scored(even though the karaoke mic I have in mind rarely gives less than an 80), it's fun just singing, or in this case, "just dancing."

I think the trick is that by focusing on the onscreen dancer, there's an uplifting illusion that maybe, just maybe, my off-rhythm imitations look just as good. I think as long as I don't play this game with a mirror nearby, I'll continue to have fun with it.

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Just Dance Box Art

Genre Rhythm
Developer Ubisoft
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Just Dance
Release Nov 17, 2009
PublisherUbisoft
RatingEveryone 10+

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