'Dancing With the Stars' Video Games Puts You Into the Dance-Off

While geeks were sorry to see Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak eliminated on reality TV show "Dancing With the Stars", there's still a way to get your "nerd" on with this ballroom competition.

Available on the Nintendo Wii or DS, "Dancing With the Stars: We Dance" is really two different games depending on which platform you select. Neither version includes the dancers from this, the eighth, season of the reality dance show.

Rhythmic Tapping Game for Nintendo DS

"Dancing With the Stars: We Dance!" (sometimes titled "Dancing With the Stars: Get Your Dance On") for the Nintendo DS is a rhythmic tapping game. As the celebrity and professional dancers from the past several seasons take to the ballroom floor on the top screen, their dance moves send stars floating down to the bottom screen.

The object of the game is to tap a star as it floats over its outline on the lower screen. How well you do in this rhythmic tapping affects the score that the judges give the dancers at the end of their routine.

For those new to rhythm games, the game offers both a tutorial and a practice mode. In those modes you will learn to tap, flick, trace and twirl the stars. When you are ready to get serious, you can explore the Season Mode. There's also a Quick Play option that lets you try just one dance.

Unlike the TV show, this game allows you to mix and match professional dancers and celebrities in any combination you want, including pairing two professionals or two celebs.

There are 10 celebrities (Joey Fatone, Mel B, Apolo Ohno, Jane Seymour, Drew Lachey, Sabrina Bryan, Cameron Mathison, Jennie Garth, Helio Castroneves, and Mark Cuban) and eight pros (Julianne Hough, Derek Hough, Kym Jonhson, Louis Van Amstel, Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani, Edyta Slliwinska and Maksim Chmerkovskiy).

The pair you select will appear in the Season Mode as your game participants. You can also choose the costumes for each of the dances.

The rhythm part of the game works well because it is offered on three levels of difficulty. Beginners should have no problem with the easiest level.

Visual Inconsistencies Detract From Overall Experience

It is hard to watch the dancers on the top screen while you are busy tapping on the lower screen. To remedy this, the game cleverly offers you a replay after the performance is done to let you watch just the dancing.

But this game loses some of its appeal because the close-up character animations don't look like their celebrities and pros counterparts. What you see are unrecognizable blocky, bloated figures. However, while dancing, these blocky figures transform into lithe, graceful dancers that showcase the various dance moves well.

Likewise, while the comments are made from the show's real judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, their visages are all wrong. This inconsistency in the visual presentation takes away from the overall enjoyment of the game.

Bottom line: Adequate rhythm game with poor character visuals but smooth dance moves -- best for hardcore fans of the show. It has better one-player action than the Wii version.

RATING: 3 stars (out of 5) Best for ages 10-up From Activision, www.activision.com, $19.99, Nintendo DS.

Movement Game for Nintendo Wii

On the Wii, "Dancing With the Stars: We Dance!" is a movement game in which you swing both the Wii remote and the nunchuk in different directions to match arrows on the screen. The arrows appear along the side of animations of the dancing couple you have chosen. Sadly, the game does not use real video footage from the show.

In this version, you are not allowed as much freedom in selecting dancers to watch as you are in the DS version. At first, you can only choose to be Joey Fatone partnered with Kym Johnson or Jennie Garth partnered with Derek Hough. To unlock the remaining eight couples, you must repeatedly play through the Show mode.

Playing the game using the Wii remote and the Nunchuk works reasonably well but not perfectly. Not all your motions will register, even though you did them at the right time. And this is a game that works better with a wireless Nunchuk than one that is tethered. The game can be played on two levels of difficulty.

The character animations in this game are better than those in the DS version, so that here, the stars are somewhat recognizable.

Bottom Line: Passable movement game for the Wii that is fun for fans of the show. Since it has a two-player mode, this version is best for families and friends looking to play together.

RATING: 3 stars (out of 5) For ages 10-up From Activision, www.activision.com, $39.99, Nintendo Wii.

Jinny Gudmundsen is the kid-tech columnist for USA Today.com and Gannett News Service, and is also the editor of Computing With Kids (www.ComputingWithKids.com ).

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