This is where We Dance comes in. From the people who bought you We Sing, We Sing: Encore and We Sing: Robbie Williams (all pretty solid karaoke games, with masses of multiplayer options), comes their latest attempt at cracking the dancing game genre. What seperates it from Just Dance is that you can use either the Wii Remote or a Dance Mat or, if you're feeling incredibly crazy, both at the same time across an awesome setlist of forty songs, from the cheesy 90s pop of The Spice Girls' 'Spice Up Your Life', to party classics like the 'YMCA', where you already know all the moves, to more recent hits like The Saturdays 'Forever Is Over' and 'Jai Ho' from Slumdog Millionaire. If there's one thing we've come to know the 'We' series for, it's their impeccable song choices, packing all those songs you thought would work well with that sort of game onto one disc.
We Dance offers three different difficulties to help you get to grips with things, and each determines the peripheral you'll be using Easy uses the Wii Remote wanging that made Just Dance famous, Medium harks back to the 90s by making use of just the Star Mat, a dance mat peripheral that comes bundled with certain copies of the game, while Hard combines the two, in what is definitely the highlight of the package.
Unfortunately, the Easy mode just doesn't play as well as Just Dance and it pains me to say it, because I've become quite keen on the whole 'We' series over the past few years, with We Sing being my go-to karaoke game. The gestures the little stick men that show you what to do and when to do it are incredibly over simplified, which means they don't actually really seem to match up with what the game actually wants you to do. It's not really that much of a problem, because you can just follow your animated character in the centre, who shows the moves you're meant to do far better than the gesture icons although this does mean you'll be consistently a few seconds behind for the entire song until you memorise most of the routine. As you're supposed to do the moves at the same time as they do, but you can't if you don't know what the moves are, you'll have to wait a few seconds to watch them and copy, putting you in 'OK' territory, rather than 'Perfect' or 'Brilliant'. It just doesn't work well enough to steal Just Dance's crown.
Medium is much better this time it makes use of the Star Mat on it's own, which is an eight-direction Dance Mat that comes bundled with the game and plugs into one of the GameCube controller ports in the top of your Wii.. For this you have a three-by-three grid super-imposed over your character in the corner of the screen, and arrows come out from the centre of the grid - all you need to do is to step on the right part of the mat at the right time. The arrows are colour-coordinated to be pink for your right foot, blue for your left and split pink and blue on the occassions you need both feet at the same time and while it's doesn't really matter which foot you use, it is advisable to at least attempt most of them, seeing as you may find your legs tied up in knots on some of the harder songs if you do my usual and stand on one leg in the centre and use your other foot to do all the pressing...
Easily the highlight of the game, Hard mode has you combining the stuff you were doing in Easy and Medium into one, hectic routine. Problems with the gestures aren't really so obvious here, as you find yourself looking almost entirely at the character behind the Dance Mat grid in the corner and maybe intentionally, maybe not, you actually find yourself doing a lot of the arm movements naturally as you move for the feet. Yes, it is hard; they're not lying but it's also the most fun of the modes. In fact, my first foray into Hard mode was on the Macarena, thinking 'oh I remember this one from school discos, even I could do this one!' - how wrong I was, three and a half minutes later with a whopping 3539 points under my belt, and a slipper award that the manual assures me that my Grandad would be proud. Awesome. I fared better on some of the other songs, getting between 5000 and 6000 points, which is about middling but considering my dance skills are below average at best, it doesn't seem impossibly difficult.
You can tell the game has mostly been built around the idea of this Hard mode too, as when you're doing songs in the Easy and Medium you'll find gaps where you're doing nothing at all, because all the action is going on in the limbs you didn't pick to play with. For example, Pixie Lott's 'Boys And Girls' has entirely arm movements in the chorus, so you'll stand there like a lemon on a Dance Mat waiting for the leg moves to kick in again.
If you're struggling with where to put your feet or what to do with your arms, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Dance School section of the game might help you out. Unfortunately, if anything, the Dance School only seems to confuse things more, as it shows you what you need to do, and waits till you complete the step before moving onto the next one all while the song continues playing and the dancer in the centre continues dancing, rather than waiting until you've finished your move, letting everything get entirely out of sync. When practising on Medium difficulty, you need to pay close attention to the little feet pictures that appear on the Dance Mat grid in the corner it's these you need to copy, and seemingly quite soon after they appear too, as if you're even a split second out, it'll tell you you've missed it, regardless of whether you've hit the right move or not. The same is true for practising on Easy mode too, but with feet replaced with hands basically, you're better off learning your routines in the main game rather than coming here.
Another odd decision is the lack of any awards this time round the past two We Sing games have had plenty of 'achievements' you can unlock by getting certain amounts of points on songs, completing the singing lessons or just viewing the credits, and while they don't really serve a purpose, they do keep the completionists coming back for more. Yet they're noticeable by their absence in We Dance for some reason.
What also seems odd is the lack of any big multiplayer modes the We Sing games normally have about ten different variations on a theme, whereas We Dance doesn't really have a lot. The standard 'We Dance' mode lets up to four people join in with the dancing, in a standard play-the-same-song-and-the-person-with-the-most-points-wins format which in itself is a lot of fun. There's also three mini-games, where you play a randomly-chosen song (for some reason, it doesn't let you pick) in either Step, a mode strangely similar to the standard 'We Dance', where you need to copy the on-screen arrows to get the most points; Jump, where you have to press any arrow at the correct time to jump over a bar which accelerates towards your cube; and Pose, where you need to 'Run' (alternating left and right steps) to the finish line, doing the random poses it throws at you lest you get sent back to the start. Both Pose and Jump seem rather hard, and as Step is so similar to the main game you're unlikely to play them much.
While the multiplayer obviously works best if you have four Wii Remotes or Star Mats, We Dance is willing to accept that not everyone will have that many controllers, so it lets you play with a few different combinations. People can plug in Dance Mats, GameCube controllers and Wii Remotes with attached Nunchucks in any combination so that up to four people can join in, meaning no-one gets left out.
While Just Dance does it's Wii Remote wanging better, We Dance is still worth getting for it's Hard mode alone which isn't actually as difficult as it initially sounds. If you're getting bored of Just Dance, and fancy upping your challenge a bit, then We Dance's hard mode is for you - and as a plus side, if you're anything like us, when you 're finished you'll be sweating like... an incredibly sweaty thing, as it's a workout like no other. But with its slightly flawed Just Dance style gameplay, and the lack of some of the popular We Sing features - like Awards, and a proper range of multiplayer modes, we're just left with the feeling that this could have been a lot better than it is.