Bright lights, mirrorballs, glitter, skin-tight white suits, and disco — the 70s have always fascinated me. I have once remarked, “If only I was born 30 years earlier, I could’ve gone to Studio 54. I could’ve seen ABBA in concert!” I realized that would make me about 60 years old right now, and I decided to stop making that particular comment right away before some Twilight Zone action happened and made my wish come true.
Though not strictly a “disco” group, ABBA certainly embodies the sounds of that decade and has alway been a favorite band of mine. So much of a favorite, that I’ve seen Mamma Mia! both on stage and screen, and loved every minute of it. You can imagine how elated I was when I learned of Ubisoft’s upcoming game ABBA: You Can Dance. The game, which is essentially Just Dance with all ABBA music, held the promise of making me a dancing queen in the comfort of my own living room.
Playing the game is simple: simply grasp a Wii Remote in your right hand and mirror the movements of the dancers on screen. Matching their moves at the right times will net you points, which accumulate to earn you stars toward a ranking, with five stars being the best rank one can achieve. Special moves called “Gold Moves” will get you even more points than a regular move if you can nail it. The Wii Remote will give its rumble motors a quick whirl to let you know a gold move was successfully executed. If some of the dance routines seem overly hokey, bear in mind that you are dancing to music that is over 30 years old. Besides, what would ABBA be without a little camp? To keep the camp factor high, the choreographers pulled inspiration from numerous dance genres like the Charleston, the Can-Can, Disco, and more. The controls aren’t any better or worse than they have been in Just Dance 3 — most of the time they work fine, but there are instances when you will KNOW you hit a move correctly, but the game fails to acknowledge it. These moments will be briefly frustrating, but by no means ruin the overall fun experience of the game.
There are a few other points that hold You Can Dance back from being as internationally sensational as the band was. The backgrounds to some songs feature official videos to the songs, so it can sometimes take a player’s attention away from the on-screen dancer’s movements. Also, given the body of work ABBA has, it seems like there should be some DLC options. I personally would love to give Ubisoft some of my money for a couple extra songs, but none are available at this time. Obviously, that could change in the future (let’s hope!).
Aside from featuring the awesome mega-hits of ABBA, You Can Dance has a few unique features to set it apart from the other titles of the Just Dance series. Firstly, in the “Extras” menu there is an area you can go to listen to songs, see live concert footage, view their lyrics, and get background information on the band. There is also a simple karaoke mode which plays the original music videos along with lyrics on the bottom of the screen so you can sing along. Really, one wouldn’t even need to sing to enjoy the karaoke mode as most ABBA videos are good for a laugh on their own. The game even supports a USB microphone so that if you do want to sing during the main dancing mode or in karaoke mode, your voice can be heard through your TV. In the Mini-Musical mode, players will be given the opportunity to work through a short series of songs telling the story of youngsters in love. This musical sure isn’t going to win any Tonys, but it would be fun to work through with a group of people and a room big enough to support four grown adults playing the game.
You may not ever get the chance to see ABBA in concert, but thankfully there is a great game like ABBA: You Can Dance to help bring out your inner super trooper. The amusing core gameplay of Just Dance gets a karaoke mode with REAL videos, a mini-musical mode, and a miniature ABBA wiki built in to the disc, to complete it’s Swedish pop star facelift. If you’re a fan of dance games and have overlooked this one, you should change your mind and be the first in line to grab a copy at your local video game retailer.
ABBA: You Can Dance
|All the fun of Just Dance, but totally decked out ABBA style||Controls are sometimes inaccurate, backgrounds can distract from gameplay|
|Verdict||Ubisoft's winning dance game formula strikes again. Obviously this game isn't for everyone, but if you like things like goodness, oxygen, fun, kittens, or democracy, then it will be easy to find a spot for this disc in your game collection.|