You never know how poorly coordinated you are until you play a round of Just Dance: Disney Party 2 – this is a rhythm game that’s almost true to its name. While it does involve just dancing, it could also be named Just Dance: Disney Party 2 for The Skilled. Rhythm games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and Dance Dance Revolution use timed button presses or dance pads taps to execute melody and moves to progress towards a score. Disney Party 2 uses motion control via the Wii Remote to track dance moves and scores, and the Wii U GamePad can only be used to boot up the game and select songs if you’d like, but it’s not a necessity. The game requires memorization on a whole other level to make those dance moves look cool.
On first try, players may fail to look as though they’re dancing. At least, they may not look coordinated at all, as Disney Party 2 features some tricky choreographed move sets. This doesn’t mean players will fail as per the scoring as there’s no real fail state, but intuition for recognizing set patterns can be key to dancing like a pro. Learning these moves will likely take time, and getting there is half the fun.
It’s hard to call this a problematic part of the game, as it’s reality. Choreographed dancing isn’t a walk in the park, after all. It takes rhythm, patience and memorization, which are all things Disney Party 2 requires if players wish to master its steps on every song. The game asks you to follow along with the dancer on screen, and there’s initially going to be an obvious delay between what players see and the time it takes to replicate that action. Players’ dance moves may not seem in sync with what’s on screen but that’s least of the issues for fledgling dancers or even pros. Scoring while nailing “perfects” and “okays” is where the game isn’t as accurate.
For games like Dance Dance Revolution, a scrolling list of upcoming inputs gives a cue to players as to what comes next. Disney Party 2 does this as well, with little chalk-outlined people who scroll at the bottom of the screen in various positions and arrow directions of upcoming moves. That’s all well and good, but these icons are static and so it also takes time to memorize exactly what the icons represent. It doesn’t always translate well to know ahead of time, for example, that an arm in the air with three little explosion bursts going down means you start at the top and on the way down, you jazz hand or finger snap your way into style. These visual cues give you some idea of what to expect – an upcoming body turn, or left hand in the air. However, as they’re fixed they do not represent the nuance of motion. In conjunction with the live dancers the game insists you follow it’s supposed to help somewhat, but relying on both markers can lead to even more confusion as they may divide your attention.
Despite the potential to feel defeated for not getting the dancing moves down on the first, second, third or umpteeth tries, this doesn’t mean Disney Party 2 isn’t fun. It can be a party game or a workout, and either way it’s a great feeling to partake in. The moves on the dancers are a sight to behold for the synchronized efforts, and you can find yourself having a whole new respect for choreography. Alright, maybe they’re a series of steps we’ve all seen before but it’s well put together, which means players in for a good time and who are not too concerned with appearances will have a blast alone or in a group setting – whether spectating or trying to synchronize dance steps. Rhythm games of this caliber are made to get players together to be ridiculous together, and there’s joy in just that action alone. You don’t have to be a great dancer to enjoy Disney Party 2, when going in with the mindset that flailing around with friends is fun enough on its own for friendly competition.
In order to balance fun and accuracy, the Wii Remote tracking is temperamental. Players can wave it around or do the slightest motion just about in time with a move, and it will register it and add to your score. Cheating the system can be done, which isn’t too surprising; ultimately it’s less fun in trying to do this. A definition of fun is measured differently for each player, but getting points naturally by giving a legitimate go at replicating dance moves is the best way to have complete enjoyment here – not merely a timed waggle shake of the wiimote to acquire points.
There’s a little bit of chance and freedom in customizing dancing playlists with a shuffle mode, in which players can determine whether to shuffle all songs, low energy or high energy songs to play in increments of 15, 30, 60 minutes or to simply opt for endless play. It’s a great way to challenge yourself on the fly, as most random options tend to do. There’s also a Playlist mode, which features a variety of options to keep the party moving, with pre-made playlists consisting of songs from the library from particular series, duets, or male or female leads, for example. If the presets aren’t enough for variety, there’s also an option to create up to 10 customized playlists, so players can choose only their favourites or mix and match as they wish. Disney Party 2 is not very complicated in its extra modes, with just the bare-bones bit of customization. That’s fine, but at 25 songs it’s also not that lengthy a playlist.
Another feature of note is that Disney Party 2 unlocks medals for accomplishing some goals in the game. A lot of them consist of simple things like completing a first song, or playing for the first time with a friend; these basic achievements don’t really matter, as they don’t affect the game in any grand way. Then there are a couple more challenging medals to unlock, such as gaining four stars on every song. Another thing players can find, for the very statistics inclined people among us, is a play count and tracker which tallies calories burned, time spent, and high scores.
What’s terrible or great about Disney Party 2 is going to be players’ tolerance for Disney teenage pop music. The soundtrack consists of songs from their Disney Channel franchises, and are likely ones many haven’t heard of – unless players are in the demographic and audience for those shows. Descendants? Austin and Allie? Liv and Maddie? If these are names and series you recognize, you’re going to adore dancing to the track selection in this game. If not, you may find yourself wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. The songs are not mainstream or well-known pop offerings in the slightest.
That said, the songs themselves are catchy and offer a little bit of variety, as they range from pop rock, to some country, or even a broadway-inspired number. The soundtrack in Disney Party 2 is made to get you moving, and it’s appropriately fun in its own right for dancing. They might even become earworms! The focus on dancing makes it easier to stomach and gloss over not knowing the tracks, but there’s also something to be said about knowing a song and enjoying another layer to it through dancing. It’s more enjoyable that way, so the main series entries like Just Dance 2016 – which also have deeper feature sets – should certainly be considered if that’s your preference.
Just Dance: Disney Party 2is a party, with stipulations. If you’re interested in getting an honest workout, this game is for you. If you’re keen on challenging yourself to some tough choreography that’ll take some memorization, it’s also a game for you. If you want to have a dance party with your friends and don’t care that you may all look silly trying to replicate dance steps, then this is the game for you too. If you have no idea who the current Disney stars are from their various shows, then it becomes a ‘maybe’. It depends on whether or not you can get past hearing overly sugary and saturated pop songs you’ve likely never heard of before. Your definition of fun may vary, and Just Dance: Disney Party 2 definitely delivers to some degree; it just might not necessarily be the form of dancing fun you’re looking for.
Not Bad 6/10
Review copy provided by Ubisoft