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Just Dance Disney Party for Wii: for kids of all ages

The Just Dance franchise, after producing two “Kids” games that lean more toward preschoolers with Wiggles and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, finally has a “family” game that the whole family can enjoy. Just Dance Disney Party, available on both Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect (I tried the Wii version), combines both tween Disney Channel hits with classic tunes their parents and grandparents love.

Just like all the other Just Dance games, basic gameplay consists of picking a song and mirroring the dancing avatar. The dancers are films of real people superimposed on colorful backgrounds. You score points by holding your Wii remote as you dance. Some songs are “duets” with two dancers doing different moves, and if you’re playing alone, you have to select a dancer before the song begins. Multiplayer modes include “freeze and shake” where at points in the song, you either have to freeze or shake your remote as hard as you can. (We tried it, and prefer conventional dancing.)

There’s no real workout mode, but you can create playlists or play nonstop random songs for a certain period of time. In addition, a parents’ dashboard lets you see how long the game was played on what days and how many calories were burned, and there are even some health tips.

On the down side, there are only 25 songs, which is rather stingy for a dance game, especially at more than a dollar per song. (And some of them could be considered filler, like 2 songs from Tangled – why not 2 songs from Mary Poppins instead?) That said, they treat them really well; instead of soundalikes and generic backgrounds, they use the actual soundtracks (as far as I can tell) and iconic Disney art. On the movie-soundtrack songs, they have animations of scenes from the movie – e.g. “Everybody Wants To Be a Cat” from The Aristocats shows the jazz cat band in the background – and scrolling lyrics are especially enjoyable with songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Be Our Guest.” There’s no Pixar, but they more than make up for that with the Muppet Show theme which has become the most-played song in our house. (Too bad this came out before Disney acquired Star Wars; it would’ve been fun to dance to the cantina song.)

Just Dance Disney Party should please Disney fans both old and young, and there’s plenty of material left for sequels!

(I received a free review copy of this game through the Amazon Vine program.)

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Not that I’m the food police, but this is Just Ignorant

An unhealthy relationship: Just Dance and Cheetos

Just Dance 4 comes out on all platforms next week, and usually the big retailers like Target will offer a bonus of some kind for buying it right away, from them.  For instance, the big bullseye packaged a bonus Zumba DVD earlier this year along with Zumba Fitness Rush.  So I looked at next week’s Target ad to see what they were offering for JD4.

And I groaned.

Per the above photo, Target will knock $10 off the $40 list price of JD4 as long as you buy a bag of Cheetos.  Not a little bitty snack bag, but a big daddy-size 9-oz bag.  The bag also features codes to unlock a couple songs in the game.

Okay, I’m no health-food nut.  I like Cheetos, although I can’t recall the last time I’ve had any.  My main objection as a mom is that neon-orange crud that gets all over everything; maybe not such a problem with Kinect, but who wants greasy orange-stained Wii controllers?

But I’m trying to keep junk food as a “sometimes” or “very rarely” food, and promotions like this aren’t part of the solution.  And it doesn’t do any favors for people trying to give exergaming a healthy image.  That includes Just Dance itself, which has featured a “Just Sweat” fitness mode since their 2nd game, and even has a blog featuring people who’ve danced off the pounds.

Why not enclose a free workout DVD like they did with Zumba, or a coupon for fresh apples, or a pair of socks, or anything that isn’t going to just add more empty calories and stain teeth?

Grrr.  I’ll buy the game, just not at Target.

Oh where, oh where can the Nintendo 3DS exergames be?

Count real steps in Nintendogs + Cats for 3DS (courtesy Nintendo)

My daughter loves her Nintendo 3DS, the handheld game console that succeeded the Nintendo DS, and I agree that it’s a nifty little gadget.  Among many other features, it has a pedometer built right in, and an Activity Log on the main menu automatically records your daily steps if you go for a walk with your 3DS.  The built-in pedometer means that games can also have the ability to give you bonuses for getting up and walking around.  No need anymore for 3DS games to have peripheral pedometers like the Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver Pokewalker or the pedometers that came with Personal Trainer Walking or My Weight Loss Coach for DS.

So there should be more 3DS walking and activity games than you can shake a walking stick at, right?  Doesn’t look that way.  Even though there were several walking and general health and fitness games for the old DS console (see the list here), my active game list for 3DS remains empty.  You can play any DS game on the 3DS, and it is easier to have a tiny pedometer clipped on than to carry the 3DS console in your pocket all the time, but it would still be great to have more games that take advantage of the built-in pedometer technology.  Besides, you’re less likely to put your pants in the washing machine with the 3DS in the pocket.

It’s not easy to even find which 3DS games give you bonuses for walking.  One that does is Nintendogs + Cats, a fun simulation game in which you adopt and pamper a virtual puppy.  You can take Rover for a fake walk by just steering with your stylus, but if you take the console for a real walk with the game turned on, not only do you burn real fat and gain real fitness, you also get presents from your dog, and not the kind you have to scoop.  Gifts depend on how many steps you take; according to the list at Nintendogs Wiki, they range from a dog biscuit for 10-99 steps all the way up to a gold bar for 99999+ steps.

The Street Pass feature built in to the 3DS is another feature that might encourage walking, or at least getting out of the house.  With Street Pass, you leave the wireless internet detector on in the 3DS as you walk around, and if another wireless-activated 3DS is in the vicinity, your Mii avatars will “visit” each other and sometimes exchange gifts, or show off their Nintendog or Nintenkitten.  We’ve walked extra loops around crowded malls just to try to collect Miis.

Do readers know of any other 3DS games that encourage walking?

Just Dance Kids 2: Exercise-in-disguise for the purple dinosaur set

I received a free copy of Just Dance Kids 2 for Kinect through the Amazon Vine program, so the following is a copy of the review I wrote for the game.

Vine reviewers with kids between the ages of 3 and 8 were asked to review this game, and I think that’s a good age range for Just Dance Kids 2. My 7-year-old enjoys this game, while my 10-year-old prefers the “big” Just Dance 3 Kinect game.

This game is structured slightly differently from JD3. When players jump in front of the camera to play, it takes a picture of your face, and with gestures you can select a cartoon avatar that’s either boyish or girlish. (That’s an important distinction for young kids!) The videos show actual kids dancing against colorful backdrops, and the steps themselves are much simpler and more repetitive than the regular Just Dance dances. The songlist is more kid-oriented than JD (“Lollipop” here is the “lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly lolly lolly” song, NOT the “sucking too hard on your lollipop” song in JD3) although not as large, and so far there’s no downloadable songs. It’s very easy for players to jump in and out mid-song, but make sure there’s plenty of room for them to jump around – it can get pretty chaotic! The “create your own dance” feature is also included and a lot of fun.

This would probably have the most appeal to the Barney and Yo Gabba Gabba set. The controls are easy to use even for the youngest gamers, provided the camera can see them. If they’re older and already listen to a lot of pop songs, Just Dance 3 may be a better buy.

Here is the song list, from the description on Amazon:

Hot Pop Songs for Older Kids!

  • Alright
  • Burnin’ up
  • Dumb Love
  • Feeling Good
  • On Our Way
  • I’m Gonna Catch You
  • Intuition
  • Just The Way You Are
  • Love Me
  • Positivity
  • Rocketeer
  • Whip My Hair
  • Song 2
  • Start All Over

Songs from kids’ favorite movies and TV shows

  • Accidentally in Love
  • Despicable Me
  • Hold Still – Yo Gabba Gabba
  • I Am A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)
  • Jump Up!
  • The Robot Song – Yo Gabba Gabba
  • Follow The Leader – The Wiggles
  • The Shimmie Shake! – The Wiggles
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  • Something That I Want

Fun Songs for Younger Kids

  • Party Goes Down
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • Mah Nà Mah Nà
  • Girls Can Too
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Summer School
  • Hand in Hand

Classic Kid favorites!

  • Barbara Ann
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Istanbul
  • Jingle Bells
  • Lollipop
  • Shake Your Groove Thing
  • Hand in Hand

Let’s Cheer for Kinect gets a rah-rah review

Let's Cheer screenshot

The Xbox Kinect cheerleading game Let’s Cheer has tuck-jumped up my wish list since I tried the free downloadable demo from Xbox Live, and also since it got an impressive 8 on a scale of 10 from 123Kinect.  Let’s Cheer combines aspects of Dance Central, We Cheer and karaoke games (you have to yell actual cheers at the Kinect mike to score points – parents, grab those earplugs) and seems to have hit the target.

In addition to the usual sideline cheers, the game includes dance routines to licensed hits, including Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” which seems to be everywhere except, um, Just Dance games.  Other songs shared by We Cheer and Let’s Cheer are “That’s The Way (I Like It)” and of course “Mickey”, and Let’s Cheer goes a step further by bringing the cheertastic hit “Hollaback Girl” to the game console.  Whoo!

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