Just Dance 4 Wii U Review
Kill me, maybe.
“Yes, this is happening,” I say to the empty room. I’m putting the game into the slot, there can hardly be any turning back now. As the Wii U sucks the disc in, with the same cheery enthusiasm it always does, I can’t help but wonder how I got myself into this mess. But it can’t be that bad, right? I mean nobody will see me, a thirty-one year old man whose dancing days are clearly behind him, so long as I close the curtains and lock the door, right? The Wii Remote beckons, and my fate is sealed; this is the Just Dance 4 review.
Just Dance 4 starts you off with two simple choices; do you want to Just Dance or Just Sweat? Choosing Just Dance will give you a list of songs and, when you find on that’s to your liking (which may be easier for you than it was for me, full track list here), you can just dance. There is no tutorial, no introduction and no indication of what exactly awaits you as the song loads. This may sound confusing, but it was one of the things I really liked about the game.
By now, it should be clear that this is the first dance game I’ve ever played, so how could I be pleased by the fact that I wasn’t given any instructions? Well, as the title suggests and I quickly learned, Just Dance 4 wants you to do just that. As your first song is starting, you’ll see a stylized neon version of a very skilled dancer, who has been perfectly motion-captured, in the center of the screen. You simply have to try to copy what he or she is doing.
The simplicity of the game allowed me to jump right in and give it my best shot, while my body was trying to remember how the hell to do the things I was trying to tell it to do. There is no way to fail a song, and no discouraging, big, in-your-face, indications when you do something wrong, unlike other rhythm games you may have played. Just Dance 4 does grade you on a scale of one to five stars, but what it really wants is for you to just keep dancing. This approach is great for beginners, or kids, or people who don’t play video games, etc, to jump in and have a good time.
Getting a five star rating on a song is something I’ll likely never do, but there is room on that end of the scale for someone who is a skilled dancer to enjoy the game as well. I had figured that the Wii U version would be inaccurate or easy to fake out because it can only track the hand you have the remote in, and believe me I tried, but the game quickly makes you realize that it’s easier to just do the actual dance step than it is to try to wave your one arm around. It’s like it was saying to me, “no, no, no, I don’t care how good you are, but you still have to try.”
There isn’t really a whole lot to work toward, in terms of unlocks or progression, but I guess the idea is that you progress by becoming a better dancer. There are ‘quests’ you can work on for each song but they usually boil down to you simply having to be better at dancing to that song. On the other hand, if you’re serious about nailing songs then you could be here for quite a while.
If you choose the Just Sweat option from the main menu, you’ll be able to take part in a number of different dance workout routines. You get to pick from ten, twenty-five, or forty-five minute workouts and you’ll also get to pick your musical style. Just Dance 4 then has you start with a warm up routine while playing a generic piece of music in the style you chose. After that it will alternate between random real songs, and their accompanying routines, and more exercise type moves. This mode was actually sort of fun, since my main problem with any workout routine is that they’re usually really boring and, though I don’t care to hear that Call Me Maybe song even one more time, ever again, the time definitely flew by.
Four players can dance to any song together, so long as you have enough Wii Remotes lying around, but the Wii U has one new, exclusive, multiplayer mode that I found interesting.
In ‘Puppet Master Mode’, one player can grab the Wii U Gamepad and start calling the shots. The other players may think they know the routine for the song they’re dancing to, but this is your chance to mess with them. The puppet master gets to choose which dance step comes next, and then watch his friends screw them up because they weren’t expecting them. I don’t think this mode will sell that many copies of the game based on its merits alone, but it is a way to get that one friend who just refuses to dance involved in the game.
If you’re really, really, serious about dancing, Just Dance 4 may be a little light for you. If you want an accessible game, that will get your friends and family off the couch with you, then Just Dance 4 is just the game for you. The fact that anyone can play Just Dance 4, without being constantly told how terrible they are by the game, is a real selling point, if you ask me. Now, excuse me while I cleanse my soul by listening to six or seven hours of metal.
Available On: Wii U. Also available on Xbox 360 and PS3.