If you already own Just Dance 4 on the Wii, then you have this game minus the few minor functions that have been added to the Wii U version, along with the slightly, very slightly, enhanced graphics. If you are new to the series though, then you have a decision to make.
Ubisoft’s Just Dance series began its life on the Wii. Using the Wii Remote, you mimic the dance moves of those on screen, and try to pull off perfect moves for a higher score. Of course, the game required that you hold the Wii Remote, and it judged all of your body’s movements based on this. It was easy to fool, and even in the best of situations the judging of your movements could be somewhat subjective. The series needed more from you, it needed you to want to pull off the moves. And then the Kinect came along.
Without getting into a debate about the “best” hardware, the Kinect’s full body motion tracking is just better suited for dance games. It just is, and there really isn’t much that can be argued against that. That doesn’t mean the Wii (and Sony Move) games aren’t still fun, it just means that the games have an inherent flaw in them that has been highlighted by hardware better suited for this style of game. That same flaw continues to plague Just Dance 4 as it makes its move to the Wii U.
If you are already familiar with the series, then there isn’t much more that needs to be said. The same problems exist, and if you are fan that means you have already accepted these limitations, and that’s great. You need to be willing to put more into the game than if it was watching your whole body, but for Wii U adopters that do want a dance game and are willing to embrace the Wii Remote as the arbiter of your movements, more power to you. The Wii U version will act just as the previous offerings did on the Wii, so it can still be fooled easily, but if your entire goal is just to get a high score you are missing the point of these games to begin with.
The Wii U version is an identical port of the Wii version – or perhaps more accurately the PlayStation Move version, which came with HD graphics where the Wii’s did not. That is almost a non-issue though, as the graphics are very much secondary in this series. But it does present a decent visual offering, filled with lush color and color corrected dancers doing weird and awesome movements.
These background dancers are there to give you your queues, along with a series of icons that flash by at the bottom. But it is tough to track on the first attempt, and with no way to slow down the dances or take them section by section, you need to be willing to put in some time on each song. Thankfully, the dances are so odd that they are usually fun to watch, even if you don’t like the song.
That lack of a tutorial is a problem that is apparent in all versions of Just Dance 4, but what makes this offering unique is the GamePad, which is sadly underutilized.
The majority of the time, the GamePad is completely useless. It offers the option to select the next song, and you can write messages that then appear on the TV, but in most instances it is easy to ignore. The one exception is the Puppet Master Mode, which allows you to choose what dance move those dancing will have to perform next. In theory it is a neat idea, but in practice choosing one of four dance moves every few seconds isn’t much more fun than just watching your friends try pre-selected dance.
The rest of the game is as it was. You have a somewhat meager 40+ tracks (and more are certainly on the way via DLC), along with the “Just Sweat” mode (which turns the dances into workouts that offer target goals) song mashups, and versus modes, including the new “Battle Mode,” which pits you head-to-head against your friends.
The content is solid, and there are a lot of options to dive into. As long as you can get over the limitations and don’t mind that the GamePad is basically a paperweight for this game, you can squeeze a lot of fun out of this game.
It’s best not to think of this as a Wii U game, but rather a dance game that just happens to be on Nintendo’s new system. The Wii U integration is shallow at best. The rest of the game is packed with content, which is nice, but the same problems that plague the Wii and the Move version exist here as well, and it’s a limitation that is not going away.
Just Dance 4 is a decent game that is better on the Kinect. The Wii U version has a lot to offer, but you really have to want to embrace this game in order to get the most of it.
Score: 6 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Wii U using a copy provided by the publisher)