This is probably a bad way to start a review that contains any amount of ambivalence, but I really enjoy playing Just Dance. I love the fact that the soundtrack is bubblegum enough to include the Spice Girls, the way the entire game looks like a unicorn barfing on an iPod commercial makes me happy and I think that its unique way of making a room full of people look like idiots is very enjoyable. That being said, it is not a very good game. There are plenty of things to like about Just Dance, provided that you like fluffy pop music and music games, but there’s too much wrong with it to recommend it to anyone past that specific audience.
The biggest problem with Just Dance is its gameplay. All that you do in this game is mimic the movements of an on-screen dancer with a Wiimote in one hand. The dancer’s movements never change, no matter how many times you play the song, every play mode is a variation on this formula as minimal as possible, and the game has serious issues with actually detecting a player’s movement. Despite these limitations, Just Dance can be fun to play. Copying the dancer is idiotic, but entertaining, especially if you get the chance to stand around and watch other people play, and it undeniably provides a decent workout. Still, if it had thought to rip off other music games just a little bit more and incorporated more difficulty levels with different routines to match, like in Samba de Amigo or the Dance Dance Revolution series, the gameplay would be much better.
The graphics in Just Dance have about as much range and variety as the gameplay, but they still work fairly well. For each song, a silhouette of a dancer appears before a blindingly bright and glittery background to provide instruction to the player. Sometimes, the dancers are delightfully inexplicable, like the stout man in a derby hat dancing to Surfin’ Bird, but usually, they don’t do much more than serve their purpose. Luckily, it’s easy to see and copy their movements, which is important due to the game’s lack of additional guidance.
Though there are plenty of complaints to be made about Just Dance as a whole, the song list, which is arguably the most important part of the game, is done with a good amount of success. The fact that the Lady Gaga song which the game is named for is not actually included does seem like a valid complaint to me, though, and it’s also slightly mind boggling that, while the developers could secure the rights to the original recording of an Elvis song, they had to use sound-alikes for Britney Spears and Irene Cara. Fans of mainstream dance pop should be more than happy with the songs used, though, as the original recordings in this game span decades and include more than just a few recognizable songs.
Just Dance is the sort of game that you should know if you’re going to hate it or not just from taking a moment to examine the box. If the thought of recreating Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue videos in your living room makes you want to bash your head into a wall, then you probably don’t need me to tell you that this game will drive you to act on that desire. Even if it does sound like a game you’d enjoy, however, I’d advise you to think before you run out and buy a copy. Though there’s plenty of fun to be had with Just Dance, the limited gameplay, minimally varied play modes, and complete lack of unlockables stop it from being near worth a full price purchase.
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