It’s quite unusual when a brand new gaming franchise appears out of nowhere feeling like a fully-formed, re-tooled update of something that hadn’t initially worked too well; but that is precisely what happened with Ubisoft’s Just Dance last year. In terms of gameplay mechanics there were no mis-steps or bum notes, it couldn’t possibly have been more accessible, and its success was almost entirely determined by unstoppable word-of-mouth.
So Just Dance launched as if it’d taken several iterations to be perfected, and for all of the many accomplishments of its elegant presentation – such as the decision to strip away all perfunctory menus and intrusive onscreen clutter – it was the sheer perfection of how it played that was the real key. The Nintendo Wii remote – so often unjustly regarded as outdated or inaccurate – was able to impeccably map every single movement that you made with apparently pinpoint accuracy, and technical hiccups appeared with disarming rarity.
This is accentuated twofold in Just Dance 2, because the pacing of the choreography is much, much faster than before. Rather than simply offering a large selection of new (and, it has to be said, superior) songs, the game actually demands more of you this time; the result being that perfectly nailing a song for the first time is twice as invigorating as it was in last year’s game. There are 44 songs in total here, and the variety (in the choreography as well as the music) is both unprecedented and hugely welcome.
The immensely appealing day-glo visuals make a return, as does pretty much everything that made the original such a smash. The addition of a duet mode would appeal even if it was something simplistic or throwaway, but inline with the rambunctious party-game spirit of the series, the mode frequently encourages you to interact with each other; some instances of which are both ingenious and hilarious. Just Sweat is a nice addition too, and plays nicely into the hands of those people who may use Just Dance as a minor fitness tool.
Quite a few games that are currently in the development pipeline have clearly learned more than a thing or two from the first Just Dance game – the most hotly anticipated probably being Harmonix’s Dance Central on Xbox 360 – but the elegant simplicity of this interface may prove hard to top. The high definition visual bells and whistles may welcome the hardcore into the fray, but it’s doubtful at this stage that anything will be able to compete with Just Dance 2’s boisterous personality, or its faultless mechanics.
Speaking of the hardcore, the success of Just Dance and this new sequel should (by now) be encouraging even them to investigate further; simply because they know better than anyone that shoddy software just doesn’t receive this kind of lavish critical praise, or this many devoted fans – irrespective of their demographic. Just Dance 2 is slicker, has a better setlist and is more challenging than its predecessor. Now is the ideal time to see what all the fuss is about. It’s one of this generation’s most purely entertaining party games.
Watch the Just Dance 2 trailer here: