Just Dance 2 (Wii)

Game Review

Just Dance 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

You can't stop the beat

Ubisoft's Just Dance came out of nowhere last year and was promptly the target of filth and excrement flung by the core gamer contingent, decrying it as yet another casual suck-fest as they put their controllers down between rounds of the Call of Duty. And that crowd wasn't entirely off base; to them, Just Dance seemed to offer virtually nothing of interest.

But Just Dance wasn't made for them. It was made for everyone else, the vast Blue Ocean audience that Nintendo set out to conquer with the Wii, and the game became a huge sales success for months on end, joining the likes of Wii Play and Mario Kart as a monthly Top 10 sales staple.

Contrary to popular belief on gaming forums, its success wasn't a fluke: despite some motion detecting issues and pretty basic feature set, Just Dance turned out to be a pretty fun time if you let it do its thing without judgement. One year later, Ubisoft is back with a sequel that boasts improved gesture detection, more songs, more modes and a stronger presentation to make one of the better Wii games to bust out at a party.

Just Dance 2 is best described as a dance karaoke game: you don't need to be a very good dancer to have a good time, and half the fun comes from watching others booty-shake to one of the 40+ pop songs in its repertoire. Each of these has its own special choreography of moves that range from goofy to kind of cool – you're more likely to learn a thing or two here to help make you a more desirable dance partner in real life than through the spastic marchings of a Dance Dance Revolution. The basic idea is to treat the on-screen dancers — tripped-out videos of real people dancing — as if they were your reflection in a mirror, copying and learning moves that are then registered by the game through the motions of the Wii Remote in your hand.

In-song, the game follows the established formula of other music-based games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band: apart from the dancers doing their thing, a horizontal highway on the bottom tells you what move is coming up, and you're ranked in points depending on how well the game thinks you pulled off the move and awarded stars at the end of the routine based on your performance. To get everyone in on the fun, song lyrics scroll by on the bottom of the screen in case you or your audience, which will surely gather round once it sees you pacing a sassy arm-pump round your living room, feels like singing along. For the dancers, a new, extremely helpful indicator has been added that colours one of the on-screen dancer's hands to show where your Remote should be. This is a nigh-indispensable addition, especially for weaving duet numbers.

The presentation goes out of its way to cut out any potential intimidation and be as inviting as possible to people who don't typically interface with a game controller. Every menu is large, chunky and bedazzled in glitter, and once in a song a vibrant neo-80s colour scheme takes over the dancers and scenery. The game's visually distinct, light-hearted fun comes across as cheesy and feels like it knows full well what the hell is going on. In addition, the full soundtrack is wisely open from the start, eliminating any need to trudge through an unnecessary career progression just to get to that Justice track you like.

And the soundtrack, despite the still curiously absent Lady Gaga track by which the game title seems to be influenced, is full of small wonders. Even if your heart is frozen to pop music you'll undoubtedly find something of worth when it's your turn to strut your stuff. With tunes ranging from Rihanna to Blondie, Vampire Weekend to James Brown, Madonna to Harry Belafonte and with an amazing stop at the "Monster Mash," you'll be channeling Carlton Banks one way or another. Especially during "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," since it actually includes that iconic move. While the first game was limited to what came on the disc, this sequel includes a Pay & Play shop for downloading new songs, which can stream either from your console storage or an SD card. Songs are priced at 300 Wii Points, with the exception of a free Katy Perry tune, which seems a bit steep but not outrageously so if your heart is set on whatever makes it up there. Whether Ubisoft will update the shop regularly remains to be seen, but it's an encouraging step for longevity at least.

Besides the regular ol' dance mode, you can pull in a partner for duets or take on some friends in Simon Says or a few other mixer modes. The closest Just Dance 2 gets to a typical career mode is Just Sweat, an exercise program that tracks Sweat points over a period of time. It's novel, and we suppose that it might encourage people to pop in the game more often, but it seems somewhat needless given what the rest of the game sets out to do; it's almost too serious for a game where Frankenstein's Monster pops off his neon head and ambles about, expecting you to do the same in your living room.

The biggest notch against Just Dance 2, though, is the nebulous scoring. It's somewhat of a mystery how exactly the game measures your accuracy, be it perhaps a combination of timing and specific direction readings, but it's somewhat scattershot. You can't just waggle the controller in any which way and expect to do particularly well, and repeat plays and learning of routines result in improved final tallies, but at the same time we experienced more than a few dance battles with questionable end results. Only here would your intrepid reviewer come out on top in a swagger-off to "Crazy In Love" against an opponent who has spent many years on a competitive hip-hop dance team. Had you seen the actual goings-on in our two interpretations of the routine at hand, you'd agree that something about the end result was mighty fishy indeed.


With the right crowd and an open mind, Just Dance 2 easily sheds its unjust shovelware label with exuberant neon jazz hands and an unwavering smile. It's still a bit fishy on the score tracking side, but Just Dance 2 is not a game about numbers. In fact, if that's your main focus, then you're probably approaching it from the wrong angle. Instead, gather round a group of friends, pound a pitcher of fruit punch and just shake that booty. It'll be okay.

From the web

User Comments (35)



Zach said:

When I first saw that score I thought you'd lost your marbles, Jon, but you've written a heck of a review, and I'm even tempted to grab a copy of the game for myself after reading this! Great job.



Kid_A said:

Hey, this is a nice surprise! Glad the team has learned from their mistakes. Maybe they'll actually earn the ridiculous amount of sales the first game got now.



Bankai said:

Good stuff - great, fair review of a casual game. I'm glad NL gets this



danschemen said:

i suggest everyone try this and the first one out. i didn't think i would like the first one but in the end it's a great game.



Joetherocker said:

I'm sure I'd disagree with the score if I played this game. However, this seems like the right score factoring in the audience of this game.



WolfRamHeart said:

Darn, I guess I better put away that bucket of filth and excrement I was planning to fling.

Nice review Jonathan. If I can find a copy of this game at a good price, I will be sure to give it a try.



SnaffyTheGator said:

'Ubisoft [should not] prep [out the game] "Just Dance 2". Such would be the end of all things, mark my words.'
-Sam Bishop, at the conclusion of the "Just Dance" review from IGN.



Amorous_Badger said:

It's probably worth noting here, that ubisoft are probably the first developer for the wii to actually utilise the wii shop/wii points in a way that might actually make people aware that it's there.

Not even Nintendo do that.



SuperMarioFan96 said:

Thanks for the great review Jon. I guess my begging in the forums worked.

This is definetely going on my holiday wishlist.



LztheQuack said:

@JM: And you will still will not get it?

My brother said the first one is hard but fun. Hardcore gamers just want to whine about how some casual game is just as successful as some of their favorite games



The_Fox said:

The only way I'll dance is if I'm blotto and have the chance to be in close contact with hot chicks. I'd like to see the game replicate either of those requisites.



AVahne said:

Whoa, didn't expect a score this high or a review this positive! I guess if this game sells millions like the first, at least it deserves it.



Hokori said:

No thank you ill pass on this EBA and Ouendan, and Daigasso Band Brothers, and DDR Mario, and Donkey Konga are enough



kurtasbestos said:

When I first heard about the first Just Dance and saw that I actually knew a surprising number of songs on the playlist, I was mildly interested (it also helps that I love dancing). But then it sold like crazy and I assumed that it was because people have bad tastes and it must be a terrible game. But really, I assumed that because I'm a pretentious gamer. After reading this well-written review and seeing the comments from other pretentious gamers who still won't admit that the first one sold so well because it might actually be fun to play, now I feel like I owe an apology to Ubisoft.



Chris720 said:

@11 Its still you. :¦

I will continue to fling excrement at this game because you just gotta waggle and ya win. If it had a proper scoring system, that would be nice. Especially since you can then start gloating.

But, yeah, either way its still a great party game. But gimme CoD any day.



RonF said:

My first contact with Just Dance was in a party. After seeing so many people having so much fun with it, I was impressed how gaming journalist were completely lost reviewing it. Now that they improved motion sensibility and added the ability of downloading songs, they surely have an even bigger winner.



rjejr said:

Bought this for my wife 2 weeks ago and she still hasn't opened it yet (bought it with New Super Mario Bros. which has been played a lot) but glad to see it got a good review. We only played the first one once but that was enough for her to want this one.

300 points ($3) per song seems absurd, but I have no idea if thats comparable to GH or RB, anybody? Oh well, they only have 4 songs and 1 is free so no matter.



Wolfo said:

This game it's very fun, i have the game and is the soul of the reunions, my mother, father, uncles and aunts we have fun sesions with the 8 players battle.



lex0plex said:

wow i can't believe it took me so long to catch this... I was honestly sitting here staring at those words for like 5 minutes until I finally got what you were correcting him on. I gotta get a coffee and watch your language too! - Mod team



HapsNinFan said:

Mm I Heard The First One WasQuite Bad ! Imma Girl... Not Sure If Its Worth It. And I Heard Yu Dont Get Feed Back That You've Done The Move Right So Thts Pretty Rubbish... Might Be Fun Though :3



thaantman said:

I'm not much of a dancer, but feel like I need this game for casual settings, every1 already played wii sports, I think this is a good game to have, what I don't understand is how the game detects certain movements, dance central on kinect has a full fledge camera detecting your entire body while this only has the wii remote, with no balance board support or motion plus.



qsdsd said:

got this game yesterday and my whole family plays it and even my grandma plays it.



rachelthehedgehog said:

I have this game and I would recommend it. There is a FREE soundtrack from the store on it - Katy Perry: Firework. I play this game with my friend and it is soo fun! They call it a workout in disguise, you sweat a whole lot. lol just telling you.



Ruiva said:

Minha família e eu adoramos esse jogo... Ele é simples e cativante. Nem precisa de muitos aparatos para conquistar!

(My family and I love this game ... It is simple and catchy. Not many devices need to win!)



Cats said:

Out of curiosity...
Did anyone own the 1st Just Dance that can tell me how long it took before they got bored of it? My kid wants it, but I think it'll lose it's luster in less than 2 weeks.

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