Ubisoft celebrated 10 years of Just Dance by launching Just Dance 2020 in style at E3 this week. After a short video celebrating the anniversary out came the dancers. We saw pandas, fans, sequins, balloons, an abundance of pink, and of course lots of dancing.
As the title was announced the splash screen contained something we don’t see very often these days, the Wii logo. Just Dance 2020 is coming this November to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia and Nintendo Wii. So why are Ubisoft releasing a brand new game for a 13 year old console? And what about the Wii U, the Wii’s successor?
The History of Just Dance
Just Dance is a rhythm game series which started back in November of 2009. The titles are motion-based dancing games, with each one containing a variety of songs. The very first game was only available for the Wii and used the Wii Remote to judge the player’s movements. It was the first dance based game which didn’t require a peripheral, such as a dance mat.
While reviewers criticized it for simplistic gameplay and poor motion detection, consumers loved it. The simplistic gameplay was perfect for a more casual audience, something which the Wii had in spades. It was also great fun to play as a multiplayer game.
Despite the critical panning the game was a success commercially. By March 2010 it had sold over two million copies worldwide, a figure which more than doubled by October of the same year. This paved the way for future sequels, each expanding on the features of the previous games.
The Power Of The Wii
The Wii was a unique and powerful console, which tapped into a market no one had ever really catered to before, casual gamers of all ages.
The Wii’s selling point was its unique control system and its wide range of easy to play casual and family friendly games. People who had never played on a console before found themselves drawn to the idea of being able to play bowling, golf, tennis and boxing, all without leaving the comfort of their living room.
The console came bundled with Wii Sports which would see families face off against each other, flinging remotes around and breaking TVs and noses around the world. The carnage was so great that Nintendo even sent out padded jackets in an attempt to make the remotes less lethal, and reminded everyone to fasten them to their wrists with the straps provided.
Long after the rubbery remote jackets had been discarded, left to gather dust on shelves and under sofas, the Wii still lived. Over its lifetime the console sold a phenomenal 101.63 million units.
The Wii U
The Wii’s successor had a lot to live up to. After all the Wii was the most popular home console Nintendo have ever produced.
The console tried to take all the best bits of the Wii and mash them together with some new ideas. Its Pro Controller could be used to play games in a new way, thanks to its inbuilt screen. Not only did the extra screen allow for some interesting mini games but you could even play some titles on the gamepad alone. This allowed it to function as a hand hand device, albeit tied to the console by proximity.
Its unique features weren’t enough.
It was supposed to be the first console in the eighth generation but its lackluster graphics and an absence of Blu Ray capability meant that it struggled to compete against the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 of the seventh generation. Against the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One which followed, it didn’t stand a chance.
It sold just 13.57 million units. A fraction of the sales of the other seventh and eighth generation consoles.
The Wii Prevails
Despite the discontinuation of both the Wii and Wii U, the Wii lives on mostly due to its audience. The core market which the Wii tapped into have likely never even seen a Wii U.
While many console gamers are eagerly awaiting the next generation console, the more casual market really don’t care. They play the Wii because its fun, quirky, and gives them a bit of a workout. The console was successful enough that it has a large back catalogue and its enough to keep a casual gamer going for a long time.
While some Wii players inevitably moved on, many more have never felt the need.
Granted the graphics aren’t the best, but they’ve not aged as badly as earlier generations, and for many Wii players it's still enough. They don’t want to part with several hundred dollars for a Switch and then have to pay another fifty or so to get more games.
Families with young children, for instance, may find that the kids are still entertained by Mario Kart Wii and Super Mario Bros. Wii and aren’t yet old enough to be clamoring for the latest games, especially if the console was bought towards the end of its run.
RIP Wii U
Just Dance is one of the most definitive casual gaming series we have right now and Ubisoft knows its audience. While some are sporting current generation consoles, many more are still happily flinging their Wii Remotes about the place and dancing to the previous nine years worth of games.
Sadly, the Wii U just couldn’t cut it. It simply wasn't special enough to convince that casual audience to make the switch.
Personally I loved the console, it often solved arguments by allowing one child to play Mario while the others watched TV but yet the Wii still reigns supreme while the Wii U is long dead and buried.
RIP Wii U
I say goodbye but not with sadness, For I know that although you have been shunned, you are backwards compatible, and therefore the last 17 people still using you can still Just Dance.