Dancing games. Who'd want to review one of them? Not me, but then beggars can't be choosers, and when a game topples Modern Warfare 2 in the All Formats video game chart, it deserves some attention. Just Dance has been a mega hit for publisher Ubisoft, and surely the thousands of UK gamers currently bopping along to the likes of Calvin Harris and Katy Perry can't all be wrong. Just Dance must have something going for it. And, to my great surprise, it kind of does.
Don't get me wrong, I and many others are unlikely to drop our 360 controllers in favour of some Wii Remote waving dancing, but Just Dance isn't made for the kind of people that like to spend hours every evening adding a hundred more kills to their running deathmatch total. Just Dance is made for people who really couldn't care less about Infinity Ward or Bungie or Naughty Dog, or maybe even gaming in general. Elite_Killer_999 isn't going to hand over the relatively meagre £24.99 to buy Just Dance, but anyone currently hooked to one of a million TV shows about dancing might.
The cheap price is likely to be a big selling point for Just Dance, as is the fact that you don't need to buy any extra peripherals. Four people can play together, each using just a Wii Remote. There's no need for MotionPlus (although the game might have been better with support for Nintendo's add-on peripheral) or a dance matt, making Just Dance a game anyone with a Wii can enjoy - if dancing is their thing.
Numerous game modes are on offer, but the core gameplay revolves around you putting a Wii Remote in your hand and then copying the moves of an on-screen dancer. You're rated Great, OK or X for each dance move, with Great ratings filling a bar that represents your overall performance - perform some Great rated moves in sequence and you'll earn extra combo points.
The videos of the dance routines, captured from real dancers but then made to look like psychedelic animations, are a highlight. There's nothing so hard here that to copy the moves would be a superhuman feat only possible by members of Diversity, but they're impressive enough to be fun to watch even if you're no good at the actual dancing.
Outside of the main game mode, Strike a Pose is essentially a dancing version of musical statues, where you dance like normal until you're told to stop. Stop in time and hold your pose, and then you'll be able to continue to dance on. Last one Standing is more dancing, but this time you lose a life for every incorrect move you pull - seven failures and it's game over. Neither mode is that exciting and as a result you'll probably find yourself sticking to the core dancing experience.
How well the game works is almost a side issue with a game like this, given that most players will be too busy pretending to be MC Hammer to notice gameplay flaws, but there are some serious issues here that will put off the more discerning casual gamers. Move recognition varies from perfect to dreadful, with some moves being marked as Great whereas the exact same motion seconds later doesn't score you a thing. It's no surprise really, given the range of moves the game is asking you to perform, but it does somewhat break the gaming aspect of Just Dance.
Each song is rated out of three stars for difficulty and effort required, and there's a decent mix of tracks included. The one stars for difficulty don't require much in the way of movement below the waist, and are ideal for complete novices or those who usually shy away from dancing, whereas the complicated routines will have you jumping all over the place. Just Dance would no doubt also double as a workout video game, with some of the routines definitely likely to get you a little hot under that spandex leotard.
A bigger concern for most will be the tracklist, and thankfully Just Dance pretty much has something for everyone. MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" is a bona fide dance classic that will get everyone who remembers shellsuits off the couch, "Fame" is iconic, "Hot N Cold" will please the kids and "I Like to Move It" will be an instant hit with anyone who loves the King Lemur in Madagascar. Add to this lot, Blur's "Girls and Boys", Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and Kim Wilde's "Kids in America", and more taking the total to more than 30, and there's enough here to keep you entertained for quite some time. Sadly there's no option to download new tracks, with Just Dance offering no support for add-on content.
All this is probably quite insignificant. If you've seen the TV ads and fancy the idea of dancing in front of your TV, Just Dance will let you do that and provide good fun for the whole family. It's not up to the high standard set by other music games like SingStar and Guitar Hero, but it's good enough to please wannabe dancers.