Who knew that when Ubisoft unleashed Just Dance on the Wii to the world back in 2009 that it would have been as popular as it did. This was roughly a year before the Kinect for Xbox 360 released and would have spawned it a true rival in the dancing game genre. In the original game for Wii you had to hole the Wii-mote in your hand and depending on how you were moving, thats how the game determined if you were performing the correct dance moves or not. Obviously, it was very easy to cheat because it was only tracking those motions and didnt use a camera like Kinect does to track your whole body movements. Now that Kinect can see every limb and how its moving, it can determine if youre actually dancing properly and grade you based on how well your moves are. Thats right; youre actually going to have to dance with the on screen persona if you want the big points!
While Just Dance 3 was the first in the series to come out for Kinect just under a year ago, Just Dance Greatest Hits is now brining Xbox 360 owners the chance to play some of the best songs from the first tow Just Dance games that only released on the Wii years ago, hence the aptly named title. So what do you get in Just Dance Greatest Hits? Thirty five new songs from Just Dance 1 and Just Dance 2, though two of the songs are from Just Dance 3 but were exclusive to a specific retailer (B.o.B.s Airplanes and Only Girl In The World by Rihanna).
Everyone has different tastes and preferences in music selection but these were a few of the songs that stood out for me and that I had to play as soon as I saw them since I never played the first two games on Wii. Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim Remix) (Just Dance 2), Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor (Just Dance), Jump by Kris Kross (Just Dance 2), Jump In The Line (Shake, Senora) from Harry Belafonte (Just Dance 2), Kung Fu Fighting (Dave Ruffy / Mark Wallis Remix) by Carl Douglas (Just Dance 2 DLC), Boney M.s Rasputin (Just Dance), and Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley (Just Dance 2). Some of the songs are covers but most are original and bring back memories. The most noticeable cover to me was Cant Touch This by MC Hammer, as it doesnt sound right at all and I didnt even want to replay it after the fact. It should be noted that even if you have played the original games where the bulk of these songs originate, some of the songs difficulty have been altered from the original as well.
So if youve never played any of the Just Dance series, the first thing youre going to notice is that the game contains a whole lot of neon coloring and looks like its straight out of the eighties (which is fitting for this game as much of the music is). The first thing I always test when playing a new Kinect game is how space-friendly it is and how well the virtual hand gesture controls work. Just Dance 3 passed both of these tests and Greatest Hits is no different. I was able to play comfortably with my wife in our small play space in the living room without any issues or hassle of having to rearrange the whole room to get it to work. The game supports up to four players if you have friends over as long as each person is staggered in formation (some routines are even meant for multiple simultaneous players).
Just like other dancing games, the premise is simple; mimic the dancers movements on screen and the better you replicate their moves the more points youll receive. Each move will grade you a miss, ok, good, or the sought after perfect. The biggest issue the Just Dance games suffer from is that you arent told why you arent getting a good score or arent hitting the moves right (which its main competitor does very well) and other times you know youre not doing anything like the person in the game but its giving you great marks for doing so. For those that arent as skilled in the dance moves department, setting the difficulty to Easy will have Kinect only track your arms and torso, making the footwork an afterthought or completely ignored. For those that want to really sweat and dance though, Normal mode will have you attempting to keep up with every spin, jump, and crazy leg work the game can throw at you. The game doesnt actually tell you the difference between the modes, as I had to learn it by reading the manual myself.
So how are you supposed to know what flashy move youre going to be trying to perform next? There are flashcard-like icons that will scroll across the screen to show you what moves will be coming up next in succession. These pictographs work for the most part, but there were many times where each flashcard showed only one move but the dancer did more than what was implied on the cue, making it difficult to always keep up with these unknown moves. Theres also no real tutorial for the move sets, so youre basically jumping in with both feet and just told to follow along as best as you can.
The song lyrics will also scroll along the bottom left corner and at specific times there are Shout Out sections that require you to sing along with the lyrics, though only if you want the bonus points (or the shy dancers in the group can sing along instead). There are specific gold moves that will show up now and then and will net you a ton of extra points if you perform them correctly. Theres usually a few per song and if you want the top scores you better make sure you nail every one of them. You cant fail out of a song, so theres no harm in trying those moves you know you probably cant do anyways. I do wish that some of the songs had the actual dance routines included that are shown in the music videos so that you could dance along properly when you see the video, or if youre brave enough, while youre on a real dance floor.
The extra modes from Just Dance 3 return to Greatest Hits as well, with my favorite being Simon Says. This mode has you following a routine like you normally would, but you also needs to watch the marker on the side to either do the move, ignore it, or another move entirely like jumping, spinning, or dancing like a maniac. Its a little difficult to watch and focus on the actual routine and also the Simon to see if youre supposed to follow along the routine or not since youre so focused on mimicking the dancer as best as possible.
Just Sweat mode returns again as well and will tally up how many sweat points you earn per song based on how active you dance. This mode can be a complete dance workout and doesnt take long for you to reach for a drink or towel. You pick a setlist of songs then take the challenge of dancing to them back to back (though you can cheat and break in between songs when you need to choose difficulties). It actually becomes quite challenging a few songs in when your arms and legs dont want to start cooperating and your shirt is becoming drenched in sweat.
The Just Create mode also returns and allows you to do just that; create your own routines. The Dance Off mode has you following most of a songs set routine, but youll get to throw in your own moves here and there. The fun comes in with the Freestyle Mode though, as here you get to make your own complete routine from the start of a song to finish. Youre able to name the routine, take a cover picture for it, and then challenge your friends to it. Sadly, it still wont attempt to make flash cards so that your friends know what moves are going to come next, but its entertaining and makes for a good time with some friends, especially after a few drinks.
If you own a Wii and played the first two Just Dance games then Greatest Hits really offers nothing new to you unless you really want to see if you can do the moves properly with Kinect now being able to see how youre actually dancing. If you enjoy the dancing game genre and are looking for some new tunes to dance to, Just Dance Greatest Hits may essentially be a song pack, but most people picking it up for Kinect probably havent played the original games anyways. While Greatest Hits offers nothing new compared to Just Dance 3 aside from song selection (as a note, Ive score Greatest Hits the same as Just Dance 3 since it IS basically the same game non music wise), there were a few gems in the song list that I enjoyed dancing to even though I wish it had some new features. If youre looking forward to the new dancing games coming out this fall, Greatest Hits will at least make the wait a little more bearable.