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Archive for July, 2012

Review of Just Dance Greatest Hits for Wii

Just Dance Greatest Hits by
Platform: Wii
2.5 of 5 stars – Been there, done that.
by ,
Written on July 9, 2012

just dance greatest hits reviewIn 2009. Ubisoft revolutionized dance video games with Just Dance, selling 6.76 million copies around the world. In 2010, they released Just Dance 2, selling an astounding 9.21 million copies. In 2011, they followed it up with Just Dance 3, selling 9.13 million copies. In the interim, they’ve sold dancing games that featured Michael Jackson, ABBA, the Smurfs, kid’s songs, the Black Eye Peas, Disney songs, summer dance songs, and Broadway showtunes.

You can’t blame them for flooding the market like this, of course. As long as we keep buying them, they’ll keep cranking them out. That’s why there’s a new Spiderman reboot this year, and give how successful it’s been no doubt they’ll find a way to reboot it again in another five years.

Just Dance Greatest Hits contains songs from the original Just Dance and Just Dance 2. They are:

From Just Dance:
Anita Ward – “Ring My Bell”
Calvin Harris – “Acceptable in the 80s”
“Fame” (In the Style of Irene Cara)
Fatboy Slim – “Jin Go Lo Ba”
Gorillaz – “Dare”
Groove Century – “U Can’t Touch This”
New Kids On The Block – “Step By Step”
Reel 2 Real feat. The Mad Stuntman – “I Like to Move It (Radio Mix)”
Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger”
The Sunlight Shakers– “Who Let the Dogs Out”

From Just Dance 2:
Avril Lavigne – “Girlfriend”
Benny Benassi presents “The Biz” – “Satisfaction (Isak Original Extended)”
Beastie Boys – “Body Movin’ (Fatboy Slim Remix)”
Boney M. – “Rasputin”
Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting (Dave Ruffy / Mark Wallis Remix)”
Countdown Dee’s Hit Explosion – “Barbie Girl”
Elvis Presley – “Viva Las Vegas”
Ike & Tina Turner – “Proud Mary”
Ke$ha – “TiK ToK”
Outkast – “Hey Ya!”
Snap! – “The Power”
Sorcerer – “Dagomba”
Studio Allstars – “Jump”
Studio Musicians – “Crazy In Love”
The Sunlight Shakers – “Jump In The Line”
Supergrass – “Alright”
The Hit Crew – “Toxic”
The Weather Girls – “It’s Raining Men”

Just Dance Summer Party
A R Rahman, The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Nicole Scherzinger – “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)”

Just Dance 2 Downloadable Content
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Rihanna – “Pon De Replay”

New Content
B.o.B (feat. Hayley Williams of Paramore) – “Airplanes”
Rihanna – “Only Girl (In The World)”

Just Dance 3 Downloadable Content
Anja – “Baby Don’t Stop Now”

Here’s one of the new songs by Rihanna.

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I’ll start out with the good. The opening menu is pleasantly simple and just like with all the other Just Dance games. You can choose “Dance” mode, “Just Sweat” mode, and Extras (where you can turn lyrics, pictograms, and help screens on and off). As with other Just Dance games, when you get to the song selection screen you can see the name of the song, the artist, and 1-3 “gears” (indicating technical complexity) and 1-3 “drops of sweat” (indicating workout intensity).

Just Sweat mode allows you to choose a free session where you can work out with up to 4 players, or 7-Day challenge, where you can choose one of three challenges: The Fresh Start (equivalent to walking 30 minutes a day), The Healthy Choice (equivalent to running 30 minutes a day), and The Sweat Explosion (equivalent to swimming 30 minutes a day). These options should be familiar to anyone who’s played Just Dance 2 or Just Dance 3. As with those games, as you work out you earn “sweat points”. Sine there was no “sweat mode” with the original Just Dance, this is the first time you’ll be able to work out to those 10 songs. Plus, for those 10 songs you’ll benefit from the greatly improved motion detection from Just Dance to Just Dance 2. As with sweat mode on other games, after you complete a certain number of songs you’ll be told how much energy you spent (1000 sweat points is compared to walking in Times Square, while 2000 sweat points is like running 10 laps around Wembly Stadium.

As with all variations of Just Dance, it’s fun to play by yourself, but it becomes a whole new level of fun as you try to out-dance each other. Even though the Wii’s motion controls may not be completely on target, you’re on an even playing field with your opponent which makes it fun and competitive. Here’s Lisa and me working out to Katy Perry.

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And now, here’s what I didn’t particularly like about this game. And there is a lot of things I didn’t like, so hang on.

First of all, it’s a little insulting that Ubisoft would take a handful of old songs, throw them into a single title, and charge a full $40 for them. Even though these are called the “Greatest Hits”, they don’t even have the best songs from Just Dance 1 and 2. The dance moves are pretty much identical to what they were in the original games–there wasn’t even an attempt to improve them or to provide alternate choreography. I noticed some tweaking of some animation and backgrounds, not always for the better.

Speaking of choreography, there are no songs that use 4-player choreography. There are only a handful of songs that are choreographed for 2 people. Not only that, there is no “party mode”, nor any of the other improvements that came with Just Dance 3. At the very least I would have hoped that they would have introduced some of the benefits of Just Dance 3 to these old songs, but to the contrary, they just dumbed down the experience.

Perhaps worst of all, the songs included in this game are hard-coded, meaning you can’t transfer them to play in Just Dance 3 nor the upcoming Just Dance 4. This is one gripe I have about all the various copycat games that Ubisoft puts out. It’d be ideal to be able to download or transfer songs like Michael Jackson songs or Black Eyed Peas songs to the main Just Dance 3 program, where you can record your high scores or design your workouts all in one place. Sadly, Ubisoft seems to insist on making you pay for the game and the songs all over again every time they come up with any kind of unique compilation (and with this title, even for compilations that are in no way unique).

This is a hard one to rate. On the one hand, I’ve given all the Just Dance titles 5 out of 5 stars because they’re just a lot of fun. And sure enough, in this one motion controls are still good, the Just Sweat mode really does give you a decent workout, 2-person play is still a blast, and those who happen to like the songs on this compilation (and who don’t already have Just Dance and Just Dance 2) will enjoy it.

On the other hand, the negatives around this title have to do more with the marketing and packaging than with the gameplay. And so for that reason I’d give this a 2.5-3 of 5 stars. However, Ubisoft will learn the lesson one way or another than users will only stand to get taken advantage of so far. For the sake of the future of this franchise, I hope with Just Dance 4 and beyond they focus more on how to incrementally improve the user experience and less on how to squeeze every last nickel and dime out of their users.

Watching the 2012 London Olympics in 3D


200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back, Panasonic and NBC made it official that 242 hours of the 2012 Olympics in London will be broadcast in 3D. While the 3D will be on a 24-hour tape delay and not live, this is great news for us who bought a 3D TV and want to put it through the motions.

One questions that’s been burning on my mind is whether the 3D broadcast of the Olympics will be free. DIRECTV customers can be confident that there’s a 99% chance they’ll get the 3D programming for free. And since Comcast owns NBC, Comcast customers will naturally be getting pretty good access.

But for customers of Verizon FIOS, Cablevision iOTV, and AT&T U-Verse, will we be getting the opportunity to see the Olympics in 3D? I have no inside information (in fact, something tells me they haven’t even decided yet, even though the Olympics will be starting in a few weeks on July 27), but I have a good feeling that yes, we will be able. Here’s my thinking:

  • For the last two years Verizon FIOS has been broadcasting the US Open tennis tournament on Channel 1003 for all subscribers of its basic packages. Similarly, Cablevision has broadcast on channel 1300. These stations are available to subscribers with basic service. The US Open was also produced by Panasonic, so hopefully the same business deals that got the US Open on these channels will get the Olympics on them as well.
  • If the Olympics were broadcast on ABC, it’s a good bet that ABC would have chosen the ESPN 3D channel to broadcast the 3D feed. But because it’s NBC, I’m guessing that NBC wouldn’t want to let ESPN have the rights. If that’s the case, all the NBC-owned stations (Bravo, Telemundo, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC) will likely be filled with regular HD coverage. They may *possibly* put some 3D content on NBC Sports Channel (formerly Versus).
  • NBC has already announced that there will be new channels for soccer and basketball, which Cablevision,Verizon, and AT&T had already verified that they’ll be carrying. They will also introduce a new 3D-only channel which none of these TV providers have announced they’ll be supporting yet, but if they carry the other two new channels, it’s not much more work for them to support this third one.
I’ll update this blog with any updates I hear (please leave a comment if you hear anything), but if there’s no news the best advice I have right now is to tune to channel 1003 (for FIOS users) or channel 1300 (for Cablevision users) on July 28. If all goes well, you should see looping coverage of the opening ceremonies all day in glorious 3D.
Here’s the 3D Olympics schedule that’s been released so far:
Friday July 27: No coverage (opening ceremonies on NBC)
Saturday July 28: 5 AM – 5 PM – Opening Ceremonies
Sunday, July 29: 4 AM – 6:15 PM – Men’s Gymnastics Team Competition, Swimming Gold Medal Finals
Not exactly sure yet if there’s a 24 hour tape delay why they’re sticking to London time. Hopefully for those of us who work during the day there’ll be looping repeats of coverage throughout the night.
So that’s where things stand right now. As we get closer to the Olympics, hopefully details will be more forthcoming!