Game Review: Just Dance 2 (Wii)

If I didn’t have a good excuse, I would feel very bad for missing out on one of the more interesting games of the year when Just Dance was released last Fall. Thankfully, a friend recently mentioned the game to me and piqued my interest enough to try to hunt it down. Lo and behold, a new version, Just Dance 2, was just released and now I’ve been fully converted into the Just Dance fan club. The game revolves around holding a Wiimote in your right hand, and then copying the dance moves presented by a motion-captured dancer animation presented on the screen. Just Dance 2 manages to capture all the fun of a rhythm game but presents it in a new and very engaging way.

To begin, 1 to 4 players are presented with a standard rotating list of the 40 included songs, each listed according to technique (difficulty of moves) and effort (how much energy you will use up.) I particularly like how technique is represented by one to three gears and effort is represented by one to three drops of sweat. Once a song is chosen, a neon-colored animated dancer appears on the screen and begins to dance. Follow his (or her) motions to score points. At the bottom of the screen little golden figures scroll by to try to help inform you of which dance moves are coming up next. Copy the dance moves well and you will earn points, possibly even becoming “on fire” to earn more points. A few points within the song there are special golden power moves to copy which also earn big bonus points. Once the song is over, your score(s) are presented and any high scores are saved.

The game simply cries out to be used as a party game. It can accommodate up to 8 players in a special battle mode, and watching your family and friends jump around the room to songs like Viva Las Vegas, or Hey Ya! is just plain hilarious. One of the most entertaining features of the game (new to the sequel) is the introduction of duets. Some songs actually have two animated dancers onscreen and each player follows the appropriate one during the song. Imagine dancing to Soul Bossa Nova (think Austin Powers) and blowing a kiss to your partner as one of the dance moves. In addition to simply dancing to the songs, the special battle mode includes options for a dance simon says (clap and spin to the rhythm of the song to gain points, then freeze in place to avoid losing points) and a race event where you try to be the first to fill up your dance meter. The variation of songs is truly impressive. There’s everything from the Jackson 5 (I Want You Back), to Avril Lavigne (Girlfriend), to Bollywood (Katti Kalandal), to Wham! (Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go). With such a broad selection, there’s at least a song or two for anyone. I particularly enjoy how each song has a very style-appropriate dance. Iko Iko has a bit of African dance style to it, Rasputin has you doing Russian dance moves, and you get to do the expected arm movements in Walk Like an Egyptian.

True hardcore video game players may find a few things not to like. There are few, if any, unlockable surprises or achievements to accomplish, and the response of the scoring system seems to vary between songs. (I can score much higher on some songs, irrespective of the technique level presented.) However, this game more than earns its keep as a party game (or even as an exercise game – there’s a Just Sweat mode that simply throws songs at you and measures how much of a workout you’re getting.) I’ve tried the game out with several groups, from teens to adults and it has been an instant hit with them all. The only problem I currently have with the game centers on the mild soreness of my arm joints after swinging around a Wiimote for a half hour or two.

Kid Factor: There are a couple things to keep in mind for the game based around popular songs, such as this one. All the songs presented would be able to be played on open radio stations, but that still means parents of younger children may want to censor a few of them. Depending on your sensibilities, you may not care for the more suggestive songs (despite the excellent history lesson, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted my 4 year old listening in on the song about Rasputin.) I don’t see why rhythm games, such as this one, do not have better parental controls. It would be a very trivial thing to create a menu where a parent could turn on or off the availability of any given song, to avoid songs they feel might be less appropriate. This is a game with heavy dance influences, so some of the animated dance outfits are a bit on the risqué side of things. Nothing you wouldn’t see worn out and about by a standard middle-class teenage girl, but there are plenty of belly-buttons and low-cut tops around. (Shoot, even the cartoon example dancer on the loading screen has tight pants slung low enough to define the beginnings of her backside.) If you have fairly conservative mores, you may want to wait for the upcoming release of Just Dance Kids, which will contain songs more commonly found on teeny-bop stations like Radio Disney and the like.

No Responses to “Game Review: Just Dance 2 (Wii)”

  1. look thats kool but i need photos as a diagram tpo understand

  2. The lack of parental controls is the reason I haven’t given this game to my daughter. Most of the songs are OK, but some, such as “Tik Tok” are right out.

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