“The ice is melting and the dancer is starting to emerge.” That and other various comments which can vary from positive or extremely negative can be heard from the mouths of the famous judges on Dancing with the Stars for Wii. Activision in conjunction with ABC attempts to bring the extremely popular realty show to your game console and challenge you to cha cha and samba just like they do on TV. But without the drama of fainting on the floor or food poisoning like those pesty ‘stars ‘ on the show. Well hopefully not anyway.
While its not Assassins Creed or Guitar hero III, we all know that the Wii is not meant for playing graphics intense games. However if you are using composite cables attached to your Wii to your HDTV you can squeeze out a decent 480p resolution. Thankfully I have such a setup and was able to experience the decent graphics dancing has. No one was to boxy or pixelated and the judges: Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno were realistic in appearance especially when they are either scolding you for having two left feet or praising you for the audience being thrilled by the performance. When dancers are gliding around the dance floor the textures are smooth and fluid from their moves to their costumes.. Overall, I was very impressed for a Wii game that the graphics were pretty good. Unfortunately the likenesses of judges didn’t follow through to the “Stars” of the game. For example Mario Lopez, Joey Lawrence, Joey McIntyre all had similar looks and facial expressions except for haircuts and skin tone. Their faces didn’t move much whether happy or upset by the judges comments. The women were also all similar in looks – Cheryl Burke and Lisa Rinna looked like long lost sisters. I guess because their haircuts are so similar, just making one more highlighted than the other, the game developers figured we wouldn’t notice the difference. Except for some hugging or aww shucks between partners not many more reactions were expressed from any of the stars. They just stood still in some cases with no expressions at all while being dismissed for lousy foot work. In addition all the male dancers had the smoothest hair free chests. No wonder they rated the game E for everyone, it was definitely for the chest free hair.
As with any Wii game the selling factor is the use of that Nunchuck and Wii remote. Because really that’s what the Wii is all about. The game utilizes the functionally of those devices excellently. You follow on-screen directions as you would with similar games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. When the dancers start dancing you will see arrows appear on the screen for you to move either controller in a direction and while holding either the B button or Z button depending on which controller is doing the action. There are also some neat dances moves that can be done such as The Hand Jive, Mashed Potato, Locomotion, and Twist. These require you to use the Wii remotes together in different positions, either making big circles or holding them to the sides of your body and going up and down. There are also ‘Flair’ moves that can be initiated by hitting the glowing arrows in the right direction with the remotes. It’s really fun and tiring at the same time. So another excellent advantage is probably some body fat will be lost. It takes a little getting used to and I still couldn’t master the hand jive motion except flinging my remote across the room. While in multi-player its the same functions. Follow the on-screen directions and use your Wii remote accordingly but it could get dangerous when playing with your buds especially if you are two close and you both have to do a ‘wave’ motion or ‘stir it up’ You could land each other in the hospital.
Playing the Game
What everyone was has been waiting for – was this game fun?!
When you load up the game you are given the following options Single Player, Quickplay, Multi-player, and Practice.
Single player allows you to compete as if you were in the show. You start with two couples that are unlocked – Season 3 winners Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke being one of them. As you continue playing successfully through a series of dances and get a score 20 or higher from the judges you win a trophy and unlock another couple. Couples available on the game range from season 1 through season 4. So you will see Mario Lopez cha cha’ing and Joey Lawrence doing a rumba – Whoa! After awhile I unlocked pretty much all the couples I wanted to play. I played as both female and male dancers and I think that Carrie Ann treated me better when I was being judged as the male dancer than female one. I sense some pixel sexism…..Either way it was a lot of fun, the comments from the judges started to get repetitive after awhile. You have the option to skip the be-littleling and get right to the scores and like I said earlier if you don’t get 20 or more you are doomed to repeat the same dance steps again till you get it right.
Quickplay allowed you to do just that – quickplay a dance either rumba, cha cha, samba , waltz with whatever couple that is unlocked and dance away for a quick twirl. Scores are also given but really doesn’t count except to you.
Practice allows you to practices certain moves which come up in the game which test your agility and muscles in your arms. I suggest going to that first before playing the game just so you know what is expected of you while playing.
Multi-player is a great option because what is the Wii about? Bringing families and friends together. This game certainly holds true to that concept. It’s great fun to play with a friend or loved one. You can be judged as a cooperative team dancing together through 4 song sets. You can choose which dancer you want to be and then each player controls that dancer following the on-screen symbols simultaneously. It can pretty exciting throwing those remotes around. I suggest a third party tape the two of you dancing with the remotes – It’s a great blackmail tape. You are judged by the judges as you would be in the single player mode. Also there is a versus option. You play against each other but you will have to wait for one of you to dance first then you can dance. Sort of like a dance off. No critiques are given in that mode.
I had a great time playing Dances with the Stars. I think I even burned some calories. It’s not a hard game by any means it’s just a fun game. It’s not for hard core gamers who are looking for something like Ninja Gaiden on the dance floor. You won’t find that here. But I bet the Hand Jive motion you need to do with the Nunchuck and Wii remote would have those hard core gamers flustered too! Dancing with the Stars is a welcome addition to what is becoming the biggest phenomenon in gaming – rhythm games. I think this can sit right along side Guitar Hero and the rest and will be the next big party game. Who said dancing was only meant for clubs on Saturday nights. Retailing for $49.95 at Amazon it is also available for PS2.
The Good: Great addition to the rhythm games. Easy to use party game that will make you work up a sweat.
The Bad: Single player mode has no real competition against other computer controlled dancers.