This holiday season Walmart sent me a few of the hot new video games to try out with the family. Just Dance 2014 and Lego Marvel.
We have an Xbox 360 with Kinect, so that’s the version they sent me, but they are both available on multiple systems.
Now in general, I’m one of those moms who prefers the kids don’t spend too much time sitting in front of a screen–be it TV, computer or video game. Occasionally we’ll have a Saturday afternoon or Friday evening where I really let them veg out with media, but overall they are limited to 30 minutes on computer or video games and just an hour or so of TV in the evening. In the summer it’s even less–I kick them outside as often as possible to play.
In the winter I get a little more lenient-especially with “active” video games like Just Dance. When it’s 17 degrees and windy out there isn’t a whole lot of “playing outside” going on. Neither of my kids play a winter sport so I like things that make them move, and Just Dance 2014 will make them move! Buddy totally has me down too–he’ll specifically ask “Can I play an active video game–I think I need some exercise.”
The way the just dance works is you choose your song, then you see figures on the screen dancing to it. You are supposed to mirror their movements. On the bottom right hand side of the screen it shows the upcoming movements. You can play with up to 4 people dancing (and apparently on the party mode you can get up to 6). The dancers aren’t always doing the same thing at the same time, so you choose a specific one to follow, and you are scored on how closely your movements echo what’s on the screen. With the Kinect, it actually uses a camera to see your whole body, so you really have to do the whole move, not just move your hands like some of the first generation dance games.
Another cool feature on the game is that you get extra points for singing along. It shows the lyrics on the bottom left of the screen and a little microphone that lights up when you sing correctly.
Besides the general dance mode there is an exercise mode where you can choose a certain amount of time (10 min, 20 min etc) and your songs, and it plays the exercise dance routines for that long. It’s a great way to workout, and you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing you being all uncoordinated 😉
On the Just Dance 2014 there is a world dance stage, which we haven’t tried (and I don’t intend to). My understanding is that it’s a way to interact with other folks via Xbox live. I’m happy to just do our own little dancing in the living room.
Overall the kids and I really like this game, but I do have a few issues with it. First–the songs are not ESRB rated, and there are a few songs that I don’t want my kids (10 & 12) listening to. Specifically this game includes “Blurred Lines” and “I Kissed a Girl”. To each their own–but it is my personal choice that I don’t want my kids listening to those songs, and there is no way to block or shut off particular songs. I’m lucky–my kids are pretty compliant on things like that. If I tell them I don’t want them using those songs they will just not use them–but I’d rather they had some sort of parental control available. If you want to take a look at the full list of songs, they are on the Wikipedia article on Just Dance 2014.
Another slightly irritating thing is that I haven’t been able to find any way to stop a song part way through. You can pause it, but you can’t just exit out of a song. If there is a way, it isn’t obvious–so if you know please share it with me.
Here’s the official trailer for Just Dance 2014. Keep reading to hear a bit about the Lego Marvel game. . .
The second game we got to try was Lego Marvel. Buddy has several different Lego video games and enjoys them. He’s only played this a couple of times thus far (it’s not an active game, so I’m far less likely to give him extra time).
There are several things I like in general about the Lego games. There is “violence” but it’s Lego violence. . . if you hit something it breaks into small bricks, or if you clobber someone they dissolve into bricks. Not exactly blood and gore–which is good. In the game you also never totally die. Sure, with enough damage you “die”–but you immediately regenerate and can keep playing at the same spot. That’s a lot less frustrating for younger kids.
There are two main things I don’t like about the Lego games. First of all you can’t just save at any point and keep your progress. There are specific places that are save points that you have to get to (the actual process varies a bit depending on the game). Long story short, if I’ve given Buddy 30 min and the timer goes off (yes, we use a kitchen timer) there is the inevitable argument because he can’t just save it, he’ll lose all his progress. As a parent that drives me insane.
The second thing is that while they can just dive in and play without knowing what’s going on (which is again good for the younger kids), it’s actually a bit difficult to just intuitively tell what you need to accomplish in order to progress in the game. That’s not insurmountable, but it usually means we have to check out a few online videos to really get a grasp of it.
Here’s the official video trailer for Lego Marvel.
Have any of you tried either of these games? I’d love to hear your opinions as well.
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