Developer: Ubisoft / Publisher: Ubisoft / Played On: Wii / Price: $39.99 / ESRB: Everyone [Comic Mischief, Lyrics]
Many hardcore gamers may need to dig their Wii out of a closet, or brush the dust from it, to get it ready for the holidays. Games like the Just Dance franchise fit the platform and the season, with their ability to get friends and family on the dance floor, a.k.a. your living room, with the added suggestion that it’s good exercise after gorging on all that holiday cheer. Granted, Just Dance 4 is also playable with Kinect and PS Move, but it’s only right to play this game on the console where it all began, and where its main audience lies.
I wish I put more thought into this platform decision. It may have contributed to a better experience.
GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS
Just Dance 4 doesn’t stray from its roots, which works in its favor for fans just looking for new songs and routines. But for $40, you may be better off buying the Just Dance 3 DLC and saving the rest of your money for the upcoming holiday season.
The game is simple in design, with only two options to choose from: dance mode or sweat mode. Once you choose a song you like, you have the option for another player to join you, then the song begins. It doesn’t ask you to choose a difficulty, character, or venue; these are all preset.
The dance movements appear as pictograms on the bottom right of your screen, while the neon character in the middle usually resembles the music artist. During slow songs, the movements are easy enough to follow, but those are few and far between. The songs that are upbeat (and actually fun) can be difficult to master on the first try. The pictograms don’t help much as they’re hard to decipher, and there’s no “break down” mode (as in Dance Central) to hold your hand.
Eventually I remembered I was playing on a Wii and stood still, moving just my hand holding the Wiimote. As expected, I’m still able to earn an “OK” rating for most of the moves without moving my legs an inch. When I actually play the game as intended, the Wii didn’t seem to register my movements as well as it should have. You’re probably thinking I’m just a horrible dancer, but I promise you I do a mean Macarena.
Some aspects I do like about the game are that lyrics scroll as you dance and it’s extremely simple to back out of a song and return to the song list. Also, you can now create and customize “dancer cards” that show your best scores and the songs you frequently choose.
Dance Quests are a new feature: There are six missions per song that you can complete to earn points for your Mojo. Mojo is the game’s leveling system, and the higher you get, the more you unlock. There’s also battle mode, which pits you against another person or the AI. Here two dancers perform moves from their assigned songs and try to deplete the other’s health bar by dancing better in six sessions of 40 seconds each. The winner of the mini battles has their song played – a nice compensation since having the beat makes it easier to follow the choreography. Although there’s a limited number of song combinations eligible for dance battles, this is one of the more entertaining parts of the game; competition is always good.
Unfortunately, with this step forward Ubisoft took a few steps back, as they removed modes like Simon Says, Speed-Shuffle, and Playlists.
Then there’s sweat mode, for those trying to burn off calories. There are four routines, also with dance quests, that are broken up into sections like “aerobics in space.” This involves dynamic fitness steps with 80s pop songs. For some reason there’s also a routine titled “cheerleaders boot camp” with punk rock music.
VISUALS AND SOUNDS
The look of the game is in the standard Just Dance style, glowing colored silhouettes dressed up in stylish clothes. Each song has a unique set pertaining to the theme of the song. Though at times I feel they tried to make it look too much like a music video, with mysterious winds blowing the character’s hair in an alley, and fog looming in when it’s an upbeat dance number. Usually you only have one dancer on the screen but some songs require a posse. Which is why I had a dance crew dressed up as cowboys for the “Wild Wild West,” because why not?
Since Just Dance 2 the series has over 40 hit tracks in each sequel, with songs like “Call Me Maybe” as well as classics like “Oops I Did it Again” by… The Girly Team? You can do the “Time Warp” or rickroll yourself by dancing to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” You also experience the unique feature of hearing odd noises coming from your Wiimote when you press a button or nail a move!
This game can be fun when you have company over for dance battles, but that’s about it. For fans of the previous games who just want new tracks, this is something you should pick up if the price tag doesn’t bother you. For everyone else who wants a rhythm game that’s fun, rewarding, and a bit more modern, you can pass this one up.
- Wii controls continue to disappoint
+ Dance battles are fun although limited in song selection
- Pictograms make things more challenging
6 / 10