Let’s get this out the way right now: I don’t dance, don’t know the name of a single dance step, and though I used to groove to the Grateful Dead and other jam bands back in my younger years, I have little interest in the art form outside of watching episodes of So You Think You Can Dance. That being said, Just Dance 2 is a surprisingly fun party game that is easy for anyone and everyone to jump right on into.
Unlike other music/rhythm games on the market, Just Dance 2 does not tell a story or offer a career mode of any kind. Though there are definitely some great single-player options on offer here, Just Dance 2 is at its best as a party game – it’s like the karaoke of dance. Upon starting the game up for the first time, I was a little bit intimated by the fact the game offers no real instruction outside of telling you to simply mirror the actions of the dancer(s) onscreen. To my relief, there’s really not much more to it than that.
You might not think it to look at the initial menu screen, but Just Dance 2 comes complete with a hefty selection of content. Your main gameplay options are Just Dance and Dance Battle, as well as Just Sweat, a remarkably fitting addition to the package.
The Just Dance mode offers free play for up to four players, and though you’re each scored on your performance, the focus isn’t competitive. In addition to solo dances, there are medley and duet options, though the medleys are less than stellar. Generally speaking, a medley maintains the same basic rhythm while switching up melodies. For a dance game, keeping the tunes all within the same tempo would seem like an especially important consideration, but the medleys in Just Dance 2 are all over the place rhythmically, making it more frustrating than fun.
In terms of actual gameplay, the premise is simple, but there’s definitely a learning curve. Oddly enough, learning dances in Just Dance 2 is similar to playing a typical level in a 2D Sonic game. You’ll have to run through each song several times before you know what’s expected of you, but the “getting there” is still quite fun.
One Wii Remote (per player) is all you’ll need to play Just Dance 2. A dancer(s) appears onscreen for each number, and he or she wears a colored glove you’ll need to focus on. The dancers perform very specific, recognizable moves, but you really only need concern yourself with the direction of their hand movement. To be sure, it’s not a very exacting system, and it’s pretty easy to get an “Okay” on every move just by simply waggling in any direction with the remote. However, folks who let loose and follow the motions carefully will be rewarded with better marks and a higher score at the end of each tune.
And that’s about all there is to it, really. Just Dance 2 is not a complicated game, and again, the motion recognition is a bit dubious. Nevertheless, Just Dance 2 is infectiously fun. Self-conscious participants aren’t likely to get the most out of the experience, but in a party environment with other folks open to some good, clean fun, this software offers tons of value.
When you’re ready to get a bit more competitive, Dance Battle has additional modes that mix things up nicely. You can compete in either Free For All (for up to four players) or Team Battle (up to eight players), playing through five different dances in an attempt to take first place. There are five options to choose from, with Simon Says and Race adding something completely new to the roster of gameplay types. In Simon Says, you’ll follow the onscreen dancer the same as you would in Just Dance mode; however, each player will periodically be told to perform (or stop performing) specific actions mid-dance in order to earn extra points. You can lose points too if you perform poorly, so there’s extra incentive to surrender yourself to the music. Race, on the other hand, rewards whichever player hits a specific score first. Both modes are quite fun, and when blended together as part of a Royal Flush, there’s plenty of variety to keep things fresh.
Just Dance 2’s final component is Just Sweat. Though it’s no WiiFit, Just Sweat is a meaningful extra that adds lasting value to the package. You can choose between three workout programs (Mild, Tough, or Intense), setting a Sweat Points goal for yourself each day. Some basic stat tracking is included as well.
Unfortunately, none of the gameplay modes can be played online, though there is an in-game store where you can purchase additional songs. Most tunes are priced at 300 Wii Points ($3), which I found to be a bit pricey, but there is the occasional freebie. There’s also a Warm-up mode, which includes simple stretching and yoga-style movements to get you loosened up and ready for the more demanding activities that make up Just Dance 2.
The stock selection of songs for Just Dance 2 is fairly robust, and surely there will be something here for everyone to enjoy. Certain selections, however, I could definitely live without. I Want You Back (The Jackson 5) and Sympathy For The Devil (Rolling Stones) are weather-worn tracks difficult to slog through, though tunes such as Girlfriend, Rasputin, and Toxic are all great fun to dance to. I counted over forty songs in total, not including those you can acquire from the game’s online store, and in spite of my personal taste, all of the selections seem like good choices to accompany dance.
The look of the game is also enjoyable. Just Dance 2 has a very specific style, one that features a colorful silhouette of each dancer, along with wonderfully active backgrounds reminiscent of Planet Puzzle League (DS). The dancers move with fluid, video motion, sidestepping many of the awkward movements that often accompany fully polygonal character models. There’s not a ton here to see, but in context, the game looks great.
Having not had an opportunity to play through the first game, I didn’t know what to expect from Just Dance 2. I’m not a dancer, and I generally don’t enjoy games that require me to flail wildly with the Wii Remote. Just Dance 2, however, is just plain fun. The controls aren’t exacting enough to elevate the experience to Elite Beat Agents status, but in a group setting, Just Dance 2 has a good vibe that’s contagious. Break this package out at your next party or family get-together, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Just Dance 2 has a great look and vibe, one that makes a nice match for the modest power of the Wii. 3.0 Control
The motions work, but just barely. Just Dance 2 gets by when it comes to mechanics. Luckily, the great fun you’ll have with the game more than makes up for its technical shortcomings. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
You likely won’t care for every tune included in the mix, but there’s definitely something here for everyone. The fidelity is also topnotch. 4.5
You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck here, even if the prices for additional tunes are a bit steep. What the game lacks in mechanical finesse it makes up for by offering pure, electric fun.
4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.