We Dance

A few months ago, Team Su-per Fran-tastic previewed We Dance, a party dance game for the Wii. Well, now I’ve had the opportunity to play the finished game (complete with Star Mat!) in the comfort of my own home, without a huge Duke statue leering at me.

We Dance falls into that category of ‘casual’ or ‘party’ game, the idea being that you can dance along to quite a few songs. Where it differs from Just Dance and the like is its inclusion of the Star Mat, a dance mat which plugs into the Wii’s Gamecube controller ports and features both standard and diagonal arrows. This isn’t to say that you have to use the mat, the good thing is that you can make the game as complicated or as casual as you wish. ‘Easy’ mode involves dancing with no mat, just the Wiimote in one hand, and you are scored on the accuracy of your arm movements. ‘Medium’ is feet only so you play with the mat Dance Dance Revolution style. ‘Hard’ is the game’s most punishing mode in that it utilises both the mat and the Wiimote.

Mostly there will be a character in the middle of the screen for you to copy, but in the corner there is also a little model which you can follow, particularly useful if you’re playing using your feet since this is also where you’ll be looking to see where you should step. Arrows blossom out rather than scroll up which takes some getting used to, but the arrows are helpfully coloured to give you a clue as to which foot you should really be stepping with. Freestyle sections also provide guaranteed hilarity with every song.

The game looks clean and cheerful with the character’s dark silhouettes in colourful clothing. In the background for most songs you can see the official music video, if not an appropriate animation crops up. It’s a nice touch for people watching who would rather avert their eyes from your terrible brilliant dance moves. There’s also a countdown clock when you play a song to let you know how much torture grooving you have left.

Where the game stands out is the energy, and, I suppose, the commitment that you need to do the dance properly. The correct way to do it is to start off easy and then build up. Hard mode is actually hard if you’re trying to do the dance the way it’s supposed to be on screen, hopping and skipping with the correct feet on the correct pads and gesturing along with your arms in the right way. Of course you could just step and wave, but do it right and you’ll be rewarded by actually learning to dance, but be aware that it takes work! Your intrepid reviewer can testify to that; trying to jump straight into a hard song for the sake of reviewing led to an injured foot. Take the health and safety warnings seriously and for the love of God put your mat on a non-slip surface!

The mat is responsive enough for what you’re getting. Of course you’re not going to get a perfect flexible dance mat and to attempt the moves seriously you probably need something a little more robust but for the purposes of casual play, it works. I should also mention here that the game has a ‘warmup’ mode which is a very nice touch, letting you stretch out quickly. Dance games don’t encourage warm-up enough and although the warmup is very basic, it still helps good practice.

My only gripe is the Dance School mode, which is supposed to be a good way of learning the dance moves for a song. Unfortunately, it’s not done in a particularly helpful fashion. In the middle of the screen is the character you should be copying. In the corner is your actual progress. Up at the top is a progress bar which shows your movements in the dance in comparison with the model dancer. The problem is that if you don’t know the dance and you miss a move, your little character in the bottom doesn’t move properly and your progress bar in comparison to the dancer falls behind. But he doesn’t stop moving. Rather than directly copy what he’s doing next, you’re expected to ‘catch up’ to him. The dancer pushes along while you’re left lagging behind, struggling to remember what move you’re supposed to be doing in order to catch up. What would have been better is if the dance was perhaps split into sections that were taught individually and could be replayed as often or as slowly as the player likes. By trying to do something a little bit more original, We Dance has ruined what could have been one of the best features. Really, the best way to learn the choreographed routines is just to play the main game.

The game has a varied soundtrack which is quite impressive. Cheesy hits like Loveshack and Rhythm is a Dancer are on there alongside popular hits such as Hey Ya! and Forever is Over. There are also heavier dance tracks such as Slam by Pendulum, Put Your Hands Up for Detroit by Fedde le Grand and Totally Addicted to Bass by Puretone. It’s quite a mixture from different eras as well as genres (Car Wash pops up in there) and with the option to download extra songs, there’s likely to be something for everyone.

Being a party game, playing in a group is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy this game. Hilarity ensued when I played the game with my sister! There are also a few party games that you can play which involve striking poses, jumping over obstacles and gesturing along. Finally, if you want to have background music at your party, Dance TV is a jukebox mode which plays the plain music videos and songs for you to enjoy.







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