Great character customization options; kid-friendly approach to the rhythm game formula; will please any fan of Kidz Bop
Kidz Bop versions of songs will annoy anyone not in the target demographic; occasional misreads of motions; repetitive song list
Since its first release almost 10 years ago, the Kidz Bop franchise has been a juggernaut, selling over 11 million CDs of hit songs “sung by kids for kids.” So it was only a matter of time before the series would jump from music to video games. Enter Kidz Bop Dance Party: The Video Game, Kidz Bop’s first foray into gaming. All things considered, it’s a decent game, but if you’re not into the whole Kidz Bop scene, you will want to steer away from it.
Kidz Bop Dance Party: The Video Game is a rhythm game in the vein of surprise smash hit Just Dance. Gamers dance through various Kidz Bop versions of new and older hits, motioning with the Wii Remote as indicated on the screen. The game has four difficulties. Easy has players follow arrows on screen indicating motions, normal has more arrows in every song, “no arrows” is normal mode, only without any of those pesky arrows to follow, and “mirror” brings back the arrows but flips the motions of your avatar, making them slightly harder to pull off. In reality, if you smash out great scores on normal mode, you’ll have no trouble maxing your scores in either no arrows or mirror modes. It skews slightly on the easy side, but considering that it’s a game for younger gamers as opposed to something like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, this makes complete sense.
The game has a decent number of songs with 24 different songs ranging from “Hey Ya” to “Hot ‘N Cold” to “Thriller”. They’re competent kids’ versions of the songs (which originally have some adult themes and language), effectively sanitized so they’re more kid friendly. The downside is that after hearing them a couple of times, whenever the songs come on the radio, any hapless adult in the room will immediately think of the Kidz Bop version, which is really annoying. There’s really no way around this, though, and it’s impossible to penalize the game for this as the songs are definitely appropriate and fun for the target demographic. Just know if you get your kids this game, you will have to deal with the annoyance of hearing a song on the radio and hearing another version filled with sing-shouting children’s voices in your head.
Speaking of hearing the songs, expect to hear the same songs over and over again if playing the challenge mode. The game has a series of challenges for players to complete, mostly involving getting a high enough score on songs with steadily increasing difficulty, but because of the limited number of songs, the game starts repeating pretty early. It’s also a little weird that the game starts repeating songs before players have heard the entire playlist. This may have been a concession for the fact that some songs on easy are more difficult than other songs on medium, but it’s still frustrating to play through “KIDZ BOP Shuffle” three times when you know that “Thriller” is waiting somewhere on the disc. All of the songs are immediately available in free play mode; however, to unlock the no arrows or mirror difficulties, players will have to first beat challenge mode.
The game is controlled with the Wii Remote alone. This means that players will not have to put up extra cash in order to play the game with a friend– the game supports two-player gameplay. However, a slight complaint with the game is that it occasionally misreads a motion. In fact, the motion recognition can be very wonky, though this usually works in the player’s favor. It seems like the sort of thing that adding Wii Motion Plus support could have fixed, and it’s a surprise to not even see an option for it. The motions can also strain the muscles if going for a prolonged session with the game, so players should not plan to marathon all the way through challenge mode.
The game does feature excellent character customization options, allowing players to buy new pieces for their avatar’s wardrobe. While it’s not as complex as some avatar customizers, it is robust enough to allow players to dress their avatar in a wide selection of realistic and joke clothing. Want a pirate wearing a mullet with black leather pants? The option exists (though there is no parrot, unfortunately). It should give younger players the ability to explore different fashions on their avatars without being overwhelmed by options.
Unfortunately the graphics are mostly sub-par. The game definitely does not take full advantage of the Wii’s graphical power, likening itself to a title like Wii Sports, only with more rough edges. Does this game need to be graphically impressive? No, but it would have been nice to see more polish, such as other characters splashed into the background instead of generic Miis wearing Kidz Bop T-shirts.
Kidz Bop Dance Party: The Video Game is not a bad game. In small doses it’s actually pretty fun, but the more you play, the shallower it feels. It’s one of those games that will be great for the target demographic, but everyone else should just leave it alone.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.