Dance Sensation is the latest attempt from developers (in this case, Majesco) to cash in on the Wii Fit and dance-exercise crazy current market trend. With people becoming more and more sensitive to their weight and seeking out appealing ways to burn calories, it’s no surprise that games like Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, My Fitness Coach, Yoga Wii, EA Sports Active, and other such exercise Nintendo Wii titles have achieved such popularity. Even the Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party series, a primarily rhythm based series, has attained added success thanks to the emergence of the health-based genre of gaming. Can Dance Sensation manage to achieve success in the quickly crowding market?
There have always been exercise games and their have always been rhythm games. Early Olympics games required you to rapidly press the face buttons on the Atari or NES controller- deeming the steady action to be calorie-burning. Early games that required you to press buttons to a pattern of sounds on the NES, Atari, and Colecovision can be considered the early rhythm games. Of course both genres have made immense improvements.
More DDR, than Wii Fit- Dance Sensation has some heavy competition. In the ‘dance’ market on Wii there are some quality rivals to compare Dance Sensation to- DDR: Hottest Party, DDR: Hottest Party 2, DDR: Hottest Party 3, DDR: Disney Grooves, Just Dance, Major Minor’s Majestic March, and the Dancing With the Stars series. Let’s just get it out of the way- stealing the rhythm crown from DDR is essentially an unattainable goal. Every dance game to be released since 2001 has been seen as a sad pretender to the DDR throne. So, with that in mind, let’s look at Dance Sensation and DDR without too stiff a comparison.
Dance Sensation has four dance styles to get players accustomed to. The quartet of dance styles are Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet, and Latin. Right off the bat it’s hard to say whether or not that’s a disappointment. On the one hand, the game makes it clear that it focuses on these four specialties and therefore little else- thus leaving a sense of underwhelming. Then again, if you think about it, the DDR series mostly specializes in JPop, Club Remixes, Disco tracks, and the occasional alternative song- not including the spin-offs like DDR: Disney Grooves. When thinking of it that way, the focus on four musical genres isn’t so bad.
However, here comes the other edge of the sword. Not a fan of Latin, Hip Hop, Ballet, or Jazz? Too bad, that’s all you’re getting. This could potentially take away all desire to purchase the game. The target audience is small girls, ages six and up. When you consider this, you can see where the developers were coming from. Most little girls love ballet, African American girls will generally love Hip Hop, and Hispanic little girls will most likely love the Latin. Not entirely sure where Jazz comes from- other than just being that fourth item on the list.
The soundtrack is just what you’d expect from a game chasing the young feminine dollar. The soundtrack is primarily made up of Aly & AJ, Hillary Duff, Corbin Bleu, Naturi Naughton, Demi Lovato, Honor Society, and several others. A few of the highlights are ‘Come Clean’, ‘We Came To Party’, ‘Fame’, and ‘Swan Lake’- of which it features an excellent version. The audio quality itself is above average for second tier music games- so that’s nice. It’s obvious they were trying to make a rhythm game and not just shoehorn another piece of software into the genre.
The controls have you motioning with the Wiimote and Nunchuk to on-screen prompts in tune with the music and your dancer to pull off dance moves. It isn’t particularly intuitive and it isn’t nearly as deep as say, Wii Music’s instrument motion controls, but it does achieve some fun gameplay for small girls. Most of the game modes are simply altered versions of the main game- the exception being the choreographing mode, which is a neat addition, but unlikely to stir much interest in the target audience.
On a final note, the graphics, are colorful and overall cute. The eyes are kind of freaky to look at on most character models, but the animations are decently carried out- a must for the genre. You can customize your dancer pretty deeply, which also looks nice from the perspective of a young girl.
The only real problem with the game is that you’re never really dancing- you’re just waving your arms to achieve an on-screen goal. This isn’t a bad thing, but for those wanting to actually be taught to dance, it’s not a great substitute for real lessons. If you don’t want to buy a Wii balance board or a DDR mat for daughter, niece, or sister, this is a decent alternative- just not great.