Girlfriend Gaming: Dance on Broadway Review

Dance on Broadway is a very interesting game. When Ubisoft scored huge with Just Dance, there was no question that they would capitalize on that success. What I didn’t see happening though, was Ubisoft creating a dancing game based on Broadway musicals. I’m not sure if there are enough aspiring Broadway dancers that want to live out their Hairspray dreams through a Wii game to justify this game’s existence.

Even my girlfriend, who just so happens to be a fan of Just Dance and musicals, was reluctant to pick this up. With only 20 songs on the disc, it’s not easy to justify picking this up at regular price. Thanks to a Wal-Mart sale that took 50% off the regular price, she now owns it and we’ve strutted and shimmied our way through a number of show tunes. I haven’t played through every song, but I think I’ve played enough to say if this one deserves a standing ovation or whether it should exit stage left.

This game’s biggest strength is also it’s biggest weakness. Show tunes are very much a niche genre of music, which cuts out a large portion of people who would play a dancing video game. Unless you hang out with fans of musicals, this game will not have the party appeal of Just Dance, either. Even if you want a game where you dance to “Time Warp” and “Let The Sunshine In”, at 20 songs, I don’t think there’s enough content here to justify a stand-alone game. If it’s any consolation, the songs they did pick are really good and easily recognizable. My girlfriend was excited to play “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and I wanted to dance to “My Favourite Things”.

Dance on Broadway doesn’t compensate for its lack of music with a robust feature set. You can play the songs by yourself, with friends, or check out the joke of a tutorial. That’s it. There’s no practice mode, no means of progression through the game and as far as I know, it doesn’t even save high scores (UPDATE: My girlfriend confirms that it does save high scores). It’s disappointing to see that this game falls woefully short on options and game modes, even by the standards set by the first Guitar Hero.

Hitting the stage is where this game shines brightest. It was a bit difficult at first for my girlfriend and I to adjust to the style of dance used in the game, but after some practice and letting go of our inhibitions, it was quite fun. I think I actually got more into it than she did.

I think it’s a great touch that the choreography is character-specific in spots. Having players dance independently of each other at the right times does a lot to keep the dancing exciting. My only complaint about the independent dancing is that the ‘note chart’ will show all of the dance moves for every character, even if that character is computer-controlled. Having that unnecessary information in the ‘note chart’ makes interpreting the instructions more difficult than it needs to be.

My biggest problem with Just Dance was that the game never gave you any feedback on what you did wrong or how to fix it. It seemed like you would score just as well by just randomly waving the remote around as you would actually dancing. While Dance on Broadway still doesn’t address those specific asks of mine, I also seemed to score a lot higher in Dance on Broadway than I did in Just Dance. My gut feeling thinks that the motion-sensing and scoring system have been loosened up to make it easier for players to score. That, or I’m a better Broadway dancer than I am a contemporary dancer. In any case, the fact that I hit more notes than I missed made me not worry as much about those missed dance steps.

In the end, we had fun playing Dance on Broadway. I look forward to playing this again. Kudos to Ubisoft for taking a big risk and going with a genre of music that’s so niche. I was expecting this to be Just Dance with Broadway musicals slapped in, but minor tweaks in the gameplay do freshen things up.

What we both agreed on though, is that this game is a hard sell at regular price. If you don’t like musicals, this soundtrack will probably rub you the wrong way. If you like musicals, there may not be enough music in this package to justify a purchase. If you like dancing video games, the style of dance involved and the gameplay systems might not be for you. If you’re genuinely interested in Dance on Broadway, I would recommend renting it first or picking it up on sale.

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