Do the Hokey Pokey? Right After I Whip My Hair...
Written by Super User
Published Monday, 14 November 2011 19:00
Remember Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and all of their iterations and off-shoots in between? Remember being beat over the head with song lists, plastic instruments, and and a constant stream of downloadable content for said games? OK, that’s a bit harsh. I’ll admit, I fell headlong into that genre and it took me a couple of years to get my head out of the sand. With the trend of instrument-based games seemingly over (the sublime Rocksmith notwithstanding), what better to take over the Saturation category of gaming, than dance titles? The runaway success of franchises such as Ubisoft’s Just Dance on the Nintendo Wii has now spilled over to other platforms with Kinect’s rise in prominence on the Xbox 360 along with the Move for the PlayStation 3. The clunky dance mats of the past have now been replaced with handheld motion controllers, and in the case of Kinect, no controllers at all. It is with the Kinect that I’ve enjoyed all of my dance game experiences thus far, starting with the original Dance Central last year, and graduating to the Michael Jackson Experience and more recently, the unreal Dance Central 2. So where does Ubisoft’s next entry fit in? Let’s boogie to Just Dance Kids 2.
Simply put, this is not a dancing game for adults. Ubisoft has done gamers a service by putting "Kids" right in the title. Just Dance Kids 2 features a forty-song tracklist that includes traditional kid-friendly fare like Itsy-Bitsy Spider, The Hokey Pokey, and Jingle Bells for the extremely young set. In addition, hits like Accidentally in Love and Whip My Hair by Will Smith’s offspring are available for the older kids. Granted, Whip My Hair can be found in Dance Central 2, but in Just Dance Kids 2, it is not sung by Willow Smith, but by other children, along the same vein as the Mini-Pops. Having said that, the “knock-off”child singers are quite good, and some of the songs even sound better than the originals. On screen, you mimic the dance moves of real kids, which is actually quite engaging. I think that Harmonix should think about taking a page from Ubisoft here, for Dance Central 3. Most of the songs are under three minutes long, catering to short attention spans. There are backdrops full of colorful imagery and kid-friendly animations. The kids that are dancing on-screen are very enthusiastic and smiley, which is quite infectious, as it turns out. My young daughter came into the room as I was dancing to Ma Nah Ma Nah (the classic Muppets tune...look it up on YouTube for a laugh!) and announced that I was having “way too good of a time”. Leave it to a seven-year-old to sum it all up in the simplest of terms.
"It’s a fun, innocent way for kids to get off the couch and get active."
Just Dance Kids 2 has plenty of content to keep the kids (and adults) entertained for hours and hours. Single-player and co-op modes abound, from Team High Score and Regular Dance to something called Pose & Shake, where players need to match on-screen poses in the middle of a song to gain bonus points, and pretend to play invisible instruments such as a guitar or maracas. The game has a filter built-in where you can choose to play only easy songs, or choose songs based on age group. Needless to say, this is very parent-friendly in respect to having the ability to pick and choose what your child dances to, and what your child sees on screen. Players can create up to a dozen separate playlists. In what is probably the game’s coolest feature, players can create and record their own videos and original dance routines, then save them to the console’s hard drive. My daughter and I had a blast with this feature, trying to out-do each other, coming up with the craziest dances that we could. The Kinect sensor reads each move precisely, and I experienced no lag whatsoever. I think that, with a year-plus of Kinect’s existence, developers now have no excuse for not using the technology in a proper manner, and to its full potential. It’s good to see that Ubisoft is leading the pack in this respect.
Following most other dance games, Just Dance Kids 2 gives the player a score based on correctly performing the dance moves and building combos. The “next move” icon comes across the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and for younger children, they probably go by a little too fast. I had trouble keeping up the first few times, but the routines were easy to learn and I was doing well in no time. The one glaring omission to JDK2 is the lack of a tutorial feature before each dance. There was a missed golden opportunity here, especially with the game geared towards kids. I’m sure most kids could have done with a few tips on how to perform the specific dances. I sure could have, and I’m an experienced dance-gamer. There is a general tutorial available when the “Help” button is pressed, but this is not an obvious feature if a child dives into dancing right away. Let me repeat again, though: this game is for kids. We grown-ups have the Dance Centrals and the Just Dances (adult versions). But it’s a guilty pleasure to get down to some Shake Your Groove Thing... just don’t tell my daughter.
Just Dance Kids 2 is the perfect game to introduce the dancing genre to young children. It’s a fun, innocent way for kids to get off the couch and get active. The on-screen kids are engaging, the game is visually entertaining, and the song selection is vast. There is little here to entertain the adults in the room, but that void can be filled by watching the kids go nuts with the Create a Dance feature. Let the little ones play Just Dance Kids 2 before they go to bed, and then put in Dance Central after the sandman gets them...or, if Dance Central is too hard for you, you can enjoy the learner’s permit that is JDK2 before you get your Dance Central license.
Release date : 2011-10-24
Publisher : Ubisoft
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
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