Written on January 24, 2012
On November 17, 2009, Ubisoft first released a groundbreaking game called “Just Dance”. Just Dance 2 a year later was an improvement, and Just Dance 3 a year after that pushed the franchise forward with creative innovations like workout modes and multi-person choreography.
But as usually happens when a franchise gets big, a company and its competitors will milk and milk that cash cow until way past the point where the public is saturated with it. We’ve seen dance games for summer parties and country music and Broadway. We’ve seen dance games for kids, including one with Dora and one with the Smurfs. We’ve seen specialized dance games for specific artists like Michael Jackson and ABBA and specific shows like Grease. At some point you just want to shake these game publishers and tell them to THINK OF SOMETHING ORIGINAL FOR A CHANGE. But I digress. I suppose as long as we keep buying them, they’ll keep making them.
The Black Eyed Peas Experience is the latest entry into the morass of dance games, based on the eponymous pop music group. Even if you’re not an avid follower of this group, you’re no doubt familiar with some of their most popular songs such as “Let’s Get It Started”, “I Gotta Feeling” and “Boom Boom Pow”, which have all become popular in the mainstream.
I’ll start off by saying that if you’re a die-hard fan of the group, you’re going to want to get this game and you’re going to love it, no matter what this or any review site will say about it.
For the rest of us, here’s my take on this game.
The Black Eyed Peas Experience is not a horrible game in itself. The menu navigation is among the smoothest I’ve seen in a Wii game. The motion detection is mostly spot-on; I’d say it’s a bit less forgiving than Just Dance 3, but if you practice the moves it’s not hard to get a high score. Not surprisingly, it borrows a lot of great elements from Just Dance, from the use of pictograms to show you upcoming moves, to allowing up to four players to dance at the same time. In fact, one improvement over Just Dance is that all you need to do is to pick up your controller and the game will automatically recognize you as a player.
There are, of course, a lot of “Black Eyed Peas”-specific details within the game. The four silhouettes you follow on the screen are the Peas themselves, so at any point of each song you’ll be dancing as Will.I.Am, Fergie, or…the other two. The background images are all nicely detailed in the ‘hip pop’ style of the Black Eyed Peas and in some cases you’ll see excerpts of the actual music video playing in the background. The choreography is definitely inspired by the style of the Black Eyed Peas on stage–meaning that anything with an intensity level of 2 to 3 sweat drops is going to be a great workout.
One gripe I have is that even though the game supports up to four dancers all songs are choreographed for one or at most two different dancers, so in most cases all four players will be dancing to the same steps. This is somewhat ironic given that the premise of the game is to experience a band that consists of four people. In fact, the scoring is set up to encourage four people to dance together as a team. Even more aggravating–each of the Black Eyed Peas characters will jump in and out of some songs when the came could very well have supported all four of them dancing independently.
Another gripe of the game is that while they did inject a few Black Eyed Peas elements in the game play, it really still feels a lot like Just Dance and not an “experience” of its own. Contrast this with Michael Jackson: The Experience, which I really liked because Michael Jackson’s style of dancing was so unique and so revolutionary that the dance moves in the game really did transcend the typical kinds of moves you’d see in Just Dance. Another plus in that game was seeing videos and tutorials from Jackson’s own dance coaches which really made you feel like you had an “insider’s view”.
In the case of The Black Eyed Peas Experience, there’s hardly anything in this game that couldn’t have been accomplished by just having it as downloadable content of The Black Eyed Peas to Just Dance 3. Heck, if they could get Mario as DLC they could certainly get the Peas in there. At the very least I would have liked to have seen special features such as behind-the-scenes videos from the Black Eyed Peas themselves, insights into how they design their dance routines, or even a break-down of some of the more complex dances by the Peas themselves. This game had none of that, leading me to believe that the Black Eyed Peas weren’t really involved with this game other than allowing their songs to be licensed.
Not that the game is a bad deal as far as the songs go; if you buy the game for its list price of $49.99, that comes out to about $1.66 per song (which goes down to 83 cents a song if you can find the game at the street price of $24.99). But by making this a separate game, they take away any chance of enjoying the unique features of Just Dance 3 such as its workout mode and its support of four-person independent choreography.
In terms of the songs, you can choose from 30 Black Eyed Peas songs from four of their albums:
Don’t Stop the Party (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 3)
Whenever (Solo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Someday (Solo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Fashion Beats (Duo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Everything Wonderful (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 3)
Take It Off (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 1)
The Best One Yet – The Boy (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
Light Up The Night (Solo, difficulty 3, intensity 3)
The Time – Dirty Bit (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
Just Can’t Get Enough (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
My Humps (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 1)
Disco Club (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 1)
My Style (Solo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Don’t Lie (Duo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Dum Diddly (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 3)
They Don’t Want Music (solo, difficulty 2, intensity 3)
Don’t Phunk With My Heart (Duo, difficulty 1, intensity 1)
Pump It (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
I Gotta Feeling (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
Imma Be (Solo, difficulty 3, intensity 2)
Meet Me Halfway (Duo, difficulty 2, intensity 1)
Boom Boom Pow (Solo, difficulty 3, intensity 2)
Rock That Body (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
Hey Mama (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 2)
Let’s Get It Started – Spike Mix (Solo, difficulty 2, intensity 3)
Shut Up (Duo, difficulty 2, intensity 1)
With all respect to The Peas, I think there are only probably 5-6 songs which most people who buy this game will dance to; the rest will probably be appreciated only by their biggest fans.
One other point I should make. While this didn’t play a part in my rating, one thing that parents should be aware of is that the songs are uncensored, and are not even the “clean” radio edits. So the language can get quite explicit. Some examples (I bleeped out the cuss words here, but they’re unexpurgated in the game):
- Boom Boom Pow: ”I’m on that next s*** now”, “next level video s***”
- Pump It: “Your girl admits that we do da s*** and When we play you shake your a**”
- Lady Lumps: “What you gonna do with all that a**, all that a** inside yo’ jeans? What you gonna do with all that breasts, all that breasts inside yo’ shirt?”
- Don’t Stop the Party: “Get up off my genitals”
- Hey Mama: “Hey Mama, this that s*** that make your groove”
- Take It Off: “a** up side-to-side, come on girl, take it off”
With Just Dance 3, even though some of the songs were suggestive, the publisher took time to at least bleep out the profanity. But with this game they didn’t. And even beyond the profanity, as anyone who follows the Black Eyed Peas knows, just about every song is suggestive and full of sexual double-entendre.
Again, I’m not making any judgments here and this is not factoring into my rating of the game–I’m sure for everyone who decries the profanity in the game, there are just as many people who are happy that the game has remained true to the artists’ original songs.
But this is just something that parents and educators may want to be aware of who may not know The Black Eyed Peas beyond the sanitized versions played on TV shows and at sporting events. I’m actually surprised that this title got a “T for Teen” rating, as I would guess many parents would probably hold off on getting this for their 13 and 14 year olds if they knew the content. I actually thought the ESRB had made a mistake in this case, but sure enough on their site they reiterate their Teen rating with the following summary:
Rating summary: This is a rhythm-and-dance simulation game in which players follow along to dance routines from the Black Eyed Peas. Players score points by accurately moving their bodies in time with the music and scrolling indicators. During the course of the game, a few background videos depict suggestive behavior (e.g., gyrating female dancers); some women are depicted in form-fitting outfits that reveal moderate amounts of cleavage. Some songs contain the words “sh*t” and “a*s”; others reference sexual material (e.g., “(Hotness) sex with clothes on . . . And I got a Trojan/Just in case we get it,” “Just wanna squeeze t*ts,” “You know my style is naughty, right/So don’t c*ck block me,” and “Maybe if you’re lucky/You’ll get a peep show”).
I’m no prude, but this seems like it should be closer to an M for Mature (aged 17 and up) than a T for Teen (aged 13 and up).
All that aside, I’d give this game 3.5 stars. It’s not a bad dance game, but for the reasons I mentioned above, it does feel like it falls short of an “experience” that’s worth paying $49.99 for. As I said, if you’re a big fan of The Peas, you’ll probably want it at any price. If you’re just a causal fan, I’d say this would only be worth it when it goes under $20. And if you’re a parent or educator, you might want to take a good look at the lyrics of the songs before bringing it home or to your school.