Review: Just Dance

Fitness buffs have long known the benefits of using the Wii as an exercise machine via extensions such as Wii Fit, EA Active Personal Trainer, or even simple games such as WarioWare: Smooth Moves, which asks you to pose accordingly in order to be successful. As of late I’ve taken it upon myself to get in better shape, so I’ve taken advantage of the glut of options available to me in order to facilitate my own fitness program. For a while I had my eye on Ubisoft’s Just Dance, a music/rhythm game that encourages you to get up off your derriere and get into the action by dancing your little heart out. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t work too well as it was intended, but if you simply use the game as a visual guide to shaking what your mama gave you, it does provide an intensive and entertaining workout if you’re willing to throw your inhibitions — and possibly your dignity — out the door.


Just Dance asks you to slither off of the couch and into the groove with a selection of thirty tracks, including “Groove is in the Heart,” “Wannabe,” “Surfin’ Bird,” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” This rather paltry song selection includes tunes that are guaranteed to get the blood pumping through your veins and your heart beating furiously while you work up a sweat in the comfort of your own living room. They can be a little corny, but most certainly infectious and easy to get excited about as you work your way through the game. The word “game” is applied as a rather loose term here, as most of the enjoyment you’ll find yourself having will be through following motion-captured dancers onscreen rather than scoring points.

It’s extremely simple to get into. All you need is a Wii remote and the game, or a few friends to join in on the fun if you can handle the embarrassment (if you’re not a wild child who loves to dance). Choose a song, whether you’d like to play the short version or full version, and watch the onscreen dancing silhouette. Once the song begins, a short countdown will commence, followed by visual cues that aid in helping you to figure out which dance move will be performed next. The choreography is not stilted in that it will not stop and break down individual dance moves for beginners. You either follow the prompts onscreen or you will not succeed. It’s quite punishing for those with slow reflexes, as the prompts that fly across the screen and are not exactly easy to follow. They do give a good general idea of where to hold your arms and legs, but implementing them in the middle of the song as you struggle to follow the dancer can be quite difficult.


As hard as it can be to get the dance moves down pat, at the very least there are only a couple sets of predetermined steps to memorize. They will be performed over and over in each song, so if you want to play the same song several times over, you’ll eventually be able to master it. It all works well in theory, but fails miserably in practice. Since the game works to track your movements and successes with motion-sensing via the sensor bar and Wii remote, Just Dance finds it difficult to score you correctly when you will often place the remote in different locations than the game would imagine. Different people hold the controller in the opposite hand, nearer or further away from the sensor, and various other locations that make it hard for you to “pass” a song in the traditional sense. You’ll often work up a powerful sweat but end up performing miserably on a song regardless of how well you worked it. This essentially renders the in-game scoring useless as any real indicator of your dancing prowess. Accurate scoring is a gamble, and it’s a real shame since there really is no other aspect of Just Dance that makes it a real “game” aside from the fact that friends need only shake a Wii remote to join in.

But don’t be completely put off — there’s plenty of fun to be had. If you dance your heart out and put a full amount of effort into the game, your score will be increased, as it truly rewards dancing with thought behind it. It’s a fantastic game for those who simply love to dance, want to learn some choreographed steps to some of their favorite songs, or people like me who want to get in better shape via video games. If you actually try rather than shake the Wii remote haphazardly, then you’ll start to see some results both in your waistline and in-game. The game could most certainly benefit from DLC or additional song packages, but what’s offered is a viable fitness bonanza that will get booties shakin’ and friends guffawing at how ridiculous you all look. Still, for an MSRP of $39.99, it’s hard to recommend Just Dance over Dance Dance Revolution or even fitness packages such as EA Active Personal Trainer. If you enjoy dancing, though, Just Dance would be ideal at $19.99 or less.

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