Wii Review Round-Up 56

Just Dance 2

For some reason a lot of people (“real gamers”) get bent out shape regarding this series. Probably because it’s not really a game, but mostly because it’s also a massive hit. If you can manage to put preconceptions aside, however, there’s a lot to like here.

Although I’m an “only gamer” nearly one-hundred percent of the time, I figured this might make for a decent workout program and the licensed music would provide a draw that ordinary workout software wouldn’t. Fortunately the creators of Just Dance 2 agreed and you’ll find that in addition to the standard game modes (Multiplayer for 1-4 or Team Play) there is “Just Sweat” which allows for choosing a weekly target of “sweat points” to earn by dancing through a number of tracks per day, whilst still tracking your high score.

The game aspect is admittedly weak, but I find this a lot more fun than dancing games like Dance Dance Revolution because the looseness of the controls means you can focus more on getting into the groove. It’s more like providing a structure for dancing than being a proper game, though I’ll warrant getting a high score can still provide a thrill, despite the rather uneven motion detection.

I prefer the track listing of this sequel to the original and another big bonus is the availability of additional tracks for download. These run 300 Nintendo Points each and are between 100 and 200 blocks. You can save and load direct from SD card or internal memory and given a 2GB card has a 10000+ block capacity it’s not likely you’ll run out of space any time soon even if you go the budget route. The initial download should take less than 30 seconds and the automatic integration of the downloads into the regular game menu is even quicker.

There’s already more than a dozen tracks available for download across a number of genres – including gospel – so it’s definitely worth popping into the shop from time to time. There’s an official Facebook page which helpfully lists the new releases, including links to YouTube video samples. Not having the full catalogue from the first game available seems like a bit of a missed opportunity; I doubt many people will pick up both given the choice, so hopefully some songs from the previous release will make an appearance.

Aside from licensed music the other big draw is how attractive the presentation is. The use of colourful silhouettes for the on-screen dancers makes for a great look, with the remote hand being highlighted to help you with the moves. Just Dance isn’t going to teach you the dances – which I have to say disappointed me a bit, but if you replay your favourite songs enough you can get it down pat (though even then 5-star ratings aren’t guaranteed due to the aforementioned wonky motion detection).

Haunted House

This was a download for other platforms but apparently too large to meet the stringent limitations of Nintendo’s WiiWare shop so we’ve been given a budget-priced disc release instead. Although better than simply deciding to skip the Wii entirely as others have done, it’s pretty clear this was a download release; lacking performance optimisations you might think a disc release would have.

It’s pretty faithful to the classic gameplay of the 2600 release: wandering through a haunted house looking for pieces of a magic urn, but it’s quite a bit longer than the original game and has more story behind it. Rather than blindly looking for doorways and stairs with the odd help of a match, there’s a plethora of light sources to help you out, many of which will damage the spooky creatures that stand in the way of finishing the adventure.

The action gets a bit repetitive with most of the activity consisting of banishing evil critters and searching every last cupboard and sofa for keys to unlock the exit to every stage of the four game levels and there’s not much enemy variety. There are also treasures and journal entries to find, the former being amusing references to Hollywood movies and the latter revealing the story, but they aren’t very hard to find and don’t provide much incentive to replay.

It’s not that Haunted House is a bad game (though repeated sound samples do get annoying), but the original concept didn’t really merit fleshing out to begin with. The original game could be played in quick bursts and was quite a bit of fun, but I wouldn’t play it for hours in one go. Younger gamers will likely get more out of it and there’s a 2-player co-op mode which should entertain the kids between bouts of Madworld or whatever else they play these days.

If you’re a nostalgia junkie or just looking for something to fill time before the next big Wii release Haunted House is a nice bit of fun, but I don’t think it will find a permanent home in the collection of most gamers.