With your Remote firmly gripped in one hand, simply follow the on-screen avatar, mirroring the arm movements, and if you’re not a couch potato, the feet and body movements too. Arms will wave about; up, down, punching to the right - a dancing diva in no time. Unlike Dance Dance Revolution from Konami where you’re stomping about in marked arrows, Ubisoft’s effort relies solely on the intricate circuit-board inside the Wii Remote to score your timing and closeness to mirroring the expert on-screen. It’s all about the angle unfortunately, and whilst it’s not as demanding as the first, there are the odd moments where even if you’re arm is pointing straight out like Elvis, you’ll end up with a nice zero next to your score. With the simpler songs it’s fairly easy to notch up those perfects, but ramp up the difficulty slightly and the need to be holding the Remote at the perfect angle provides strain on what could be a fun routine. A small niggle to dampen the otherwise simple and fun concept.
Fortunately you can’t lose, and that’s perhaps what made the first game, and now its follow-up, so appealing. Not the best dancer in the world? Doesn’t matter, as the concept here is more reward than punish, and with the help of some nifty variation in choreography offers a wide selection of songs to swing, slide and bop to. From the likes of Cosmic Girl from Jamiroquai to Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vagas, there’s enough variation to get most shuffling into the queue for the next go, certainly a larger scope than the pop-driven original. Unlike a lot of previous dance titles, where there’s a very limited number of inputs, for each of the 40 or so songs available each routine has been given a life of its own. One minute you’ll find yourself prancing about like a randy robot, and the next shaking those hips like Shakira. The sequences offer a cheeky, fun and sweat-inducing means of dancing that has the potential to bring out the most closet dancer in the room. Some are vastly more interesting than others, though there are unique moves in each that make it worth trying at least once.
Whilst the song selection and moves are more varied in Just Dance 2, there are also a handful of nifty new features to boost the experience; especially for the party scene. The new duet mode is one of those make-or-break a friendship settings, with 11 songs in the set-list tailor-made for two people. A good example of this is Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend where one player dances rather defensively, curling back whilst the other claws and punches towards the other. In Vampire Weekend’s A-Punk we find our pair having to shuffle from side to side as if ballerinas and playfully skip around each other. The new partner routines are amusing and certainly add a new dynamic, rather than bother players trying to out-do each other with the same routine.
Just Dance 2 also has a selection of fairly basic, but different multi-player features on offer; a notable highlight being “Simon Says”, where players all dance to the same routine, but with additional moves popping up from time-to-time to score those much needed bonus points. Race and Team modes also push the competitive side slightly, with players trying to grab the highest score in the quickest time, or partnering up to rack up the most points. These improvements and additions do help vary and add a much needed longevity to a game that’s practically unlocked from the start, and would be a likely contender to the ol’ karaoke machine or dance mats.
What is missing though is the ability to learn the moves, slowly and break down the routines into size-able chunks. Think Guitar Hero’s practice mode, where each chorus and verse can be slowed down to learn and improve. Just Dance, as the name suggests, doesn’t necessarily need the ability to practice each in order to progress by beating levels, but a large portion of the game’s choreography is interesting to watch, and even better to perform, meaning that it has the potential to compel you to want to learn the footwork and memorise the complex arm gestures. It’s not a huge game breaker, but perhaps an aspect worth including in the inevitable follow-up.
If you’re standing and actually trying to dance, rather than casually wiggling your tool about on the sofa, then Just Dance 2 is almost guaranteed to induce sweat, unless you’re a camel or inhuman. Fitness games demand a big chunk of the Wii’s catalogue, and so Ubisoft has attempted to slide in a small, but useful dollop of exercise and weight loss into the mix. The new “Just Sweat” feature sees each track labelled with three levels of sweat: Mild, Tough and Intense. Do a handful a day and the game will reward you with “sweat points” based on your score, the choreography difficulty and for how long you’re dancing for. Whilst there may not be as much depth, nor is it as goal driven as Wii Fit or EA Sports Active, but its inclusion is a light-hearted, fun approach to your thirty-minutes a day, and an added bonus to the regular dance features.
Once you’ve exhausted the main set-list, friends and your joints there is the option of heading online and downloading additional songs to your Wii in exchange for Nintendo Points. At the moment there is a fairly limited selection of songs; four at time of writing, including tracks from Rhianna and Katy Perry. It’s quick and simple to download, with the prospect of more songs to be included in the future. Songs are stored in the Wii’s internal memory or bootable from an SD card, taking up around 200 to 300 blocks per track.