(NB: As the title is completely in japanese not everything listed in this review is completely accurate)
Happy Dance Collection is a title from Namco Bandai which strikingly looks familiar to longtime running IdolM@ster. Though looking very similar, the title does have one big difference….it’s on the Wii. The title itself feels and players like a parapara simulator using the Wii remote as a baton. Voiced by popular Seiyuu Mizuki Nana, the title offers a unique experience which is hampered by
some minor control issues and a limited song library.
The game offer starts offers the player a variety of play modes. Story mode has you playing young Ai who is discovered at her highschool by a talent agency and set on her way to stardom performing on stage….and that’s about how far the story goes. Along the way you’ll meet your manager and Yuuki, the lead male in the game. The basic premise of the story is set out in a number of location accessible on a map which each composes of a number of songs and then a concert containing a number of songs. Each time you play a song, there is a score you have to meet to continue. Of course, players to these types of games won’t get anything new here and you’ll be treated to gaining money for completing each stage and unlocking some new content in the form of stages or new accessories which can be bought from the shop. There is also the “On Stage” mode for players to play a certain song from the games songlist though a majority still needs to be unlocked eventually unlocking Hard which has no on screen “Notes” for you to follow. There are also Co-operative modes for two players in the form of a Versus mode and a Mini Mission mode which seems like a slim down version of story mode which allows both players to share a single bar to pass a song. Other modes include a “Dress up” mode for customising Ai or Yuuki and tutorial mode. That’s basically all there is to the game.
The gameplay is pretty unique in the way that the game requires you to practically dance to the song to register a hit and this is where things get problematic quickly. Patterns will appear onscreen requiring the player to perform a certain motion in time to the music and the problem is with how sensitive the Wii Remote is. Half the time you’ll think you have performed the right motion but the game delivers a miss instead. These become apparent and fustrating early in the story mode. Once you get used to the motions however as a majority of them repeat, you’ll be having a hard time achieve the high requirements of songs in story mode required to pass them but you’ll definitely need to memorize them for the Higher difficulties. However I found that the best way to score is to actually follow the character’s movement onscreen which helped greatly. There definitely is a learning curve to get how to do the movements but having to perform the movements with the character onscreen is impressive as it actually detracts cheating by random wagging of the remote.
Visually the game is alright with Anime Stills and backgrounds portraying the story though it is very simplistic. The dancing is well done but the character models are jaggy and could of had the cel shaded treatment done to them. The stages are nothing to be amazed about as they all seem similar and devoided of any background dancers to accompany your dancer. This is extremely notice able in coop as there’s always only one dancer on the screen.
The audio plays itself well, the songlist is not that impressive with only 24 songs over a variety of anime and Jpop but is sufficent given the obsurity of this game and Mizuki Nana fans will be pleased to hear that it includes 4 original songs by the idol.
Overall it is a fun addtion to the Wii that though has a number of issues with controls, is still a fun game nonetheless. The game is fully in Japanese but it isn’t too hard to navigate with limited Japanese Knowledge. I would recommend the game as a fun casual quick play title to anyone who’s into Jpop and Para para.