Just Dance 4 (Wii U) Review

Released in early October across all gaming consoles, we previously reviewed Just Dance 4 for the Xbox 360 and Kinect.  You can read that review HERE.  We praised it for being fun to play and a good party game.  Just Dance 4 arrives yet again with the launch of the Wii U with a few new exclusive features.  Read on to find out about what is exactly new and how the game fares as a whole on Nintendo’s latest console.

Since Just Dance 4 on the Wii U requires the Wii Remote (don’t think you’re doing motion controls with the cool new GamePad), right off the bat I felt the gameplay was a little easier than my time playing it with Kinect.  Why?  Because you can cheat a little.  Instead of tracking your entire body Just Dance 4 on the Wii U is limited by the motion sensing capabilities of the controller in your hand.  The full body tracking technology on Kinect outshines using the Wii Remote in every way   For something on a “next-gen” console (whatever next gen means these days; I don’t buy it), the gameplay with the Wii Remote feels decidedly dated.  If Wii U is all you have, it’s a no brainer.  Kids certainly won’t mind.  My 11-year-old nephews did not seem bothered in the least to be playing it with the Wii Remote in hand.

Despite this, Just Dance 4 is not the type of game that is all about being completely accurate with every move anyways.  While the game offers a Rock Band-like scoring system, Just Dance 4 goes more for style and judges you on a variety of elements, not just the accuracy with which you perform the moves.  This makes progressing through the game and unlocking content somewhat easier and more fun than trying to be ultra-precise.  Still, if you have the choice between this and the Xbox 360 version I would go Kinect all the way.

The various modes found in the Xbox 360 version, including Battle Mode and Just Sweat Mode, are intact on Wii U.  Battle Mode can be fun as you face off against a friend to see who has the better dance moves.  Just Sweat mode is exactly what the title describes.  It attempts to provide a fitness angle to the game but it is really nothing more than a cardio workout.  If you are looking for a fitness game there are far better options available that offer a more rounded workout experience.  This is a dance/party game first and foremost.  That is where the real fun lies anyways.

The Wii U exclusive features revolve around the use of the Wii U GamePad.  In Puppet Master Mode one player uses the Wii U GamePad while the others dance.  The player using the GamePad doesn’t dance but rather selects which move the dancers have to perform from several displayed on the GamePad’s screen.  This reminds me of that old game we used to play in the pool called Jump or Dive.  The Wii U GamePad can also be used to display messages on the TV (you write them on the GamePad screen and they show up on the TV) and to display the lyrics for anyone that wants to sing along karaoke style.  There’s no scoring or reward for singing along though and it is purely for people’s enjoyment.  Players can also control song selection with the GamePad.  I do give Ubisoft credit for not simply mailing it with a high definition port of the Wii version of the game but the Wii GamePad can only bring so much to the table when it comes to dance games.

The visuals in the Wii U version of Just Dance 4 are on par with what you may have already seen on Xbox 360 or PS3.  Unfortunately the effect of seeing this game on Nintendo hardware in high definition isn’t as dramatic as seeing Mario in HD but things look fine and just the same as other versions.  The graphics are crisp and the high contrast, colourful palette used on the game’s characters is eye catching to say the least.

I’m not a dance music guy but even I couldn’t resist tapping my foot even when watching my nephews play this game.  The music is front and centre in Just Dance 4 as it should be.  40 tracks, a few Wii U bonus tracks, plus the promise of more via DLC is a solid offering.  Just Dance 4 has even recently seen the release of DLC on other consoles to take advantage of PSY’s viral phenom Gangnam Style.  A lot of people groaned at this but from a marketing standpoint I applaud Ubisoft.  Who isn’t going to buy that?  So naturally we immediately looked for Gangnam Style to download.  No additional songs are yet available on the Wii U.  I’m still new with the Wii U so if I am mistaking here someone please feel free to correct me (kindly, don’t be mean) in the comments section below.

With five Wii U games, from Mario to Mickey, sitting on my coffee table this is the game my two nephews wanted to play almost unanimously.  Despite the shortcomings of using a Wii remote versus something like the Kinect that tracks the whole body, this is still a totally fun game to play, especially with friends.  I am not sure the added features for the Wii U offer a compelling enough reason to choose or switch to the Wii U version if you are a multiple console owner, especially considering you can get it for $20 cheaper on the other consoles.

The Good


The Bad