If you've ever set foot in an arcade at any point in the last five or six years, you won't have been able to miss the dominating presence of the countless dancing games that have taken over. The most popular of these, Dancing Stage (also known as Dance Dance Revolution in America and Japan) has spawned well over 60 different versions and console releases, leading to dodgier dancing than a Friday night in Hull.
Hottest Party is the first Wii game of the series and offers 50 exclusive songs, ranging from original dance tracks to remixes of Dancing Stage classics. Of these 50 songs, 26 of them are dance covers of popular songs spanning a number of decades: from older classics like Hot Stuff by Donna Summer, Karma Chameleon by Culture Club and You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead Or Alive to dance mixes of more recent offerings by the likes of Nickelback, Coldplay and Scissor Sisters, there should be something here that will appeal to gamers of any generation.
In case you haven't played a dancing game before, let us quickly fill you in. Dancing Stage Hottest Party comes with a dance mat with four directional arrows on it, like a big D-Pad. On the screen, arrows travel upwards toward markers at the top. You have to time your steps on the mat so you step on the right arrow as it crosses the marker. Hey presto, you're dancing.
It's not as simple as that, though: as well as normal steps, there are special arrows that each have different effects when you trigger them (see the "Four Step Programme" box). Not only that, but this Wii version adds hand movements to the series for the first time, with the Remote and Nunchuk coming into play.
Basically, as well as the arrows, there are also orange diamonds with controller symbols on them. These only appear on the left and right markers and have to be triggered by shaking either the Nunchuk (for the left ones) or Wii Remote (for the right ones).
While we could take or leave the different arrows, which feel a bit gimmicky (after all, the game even refers to them as "gimmicks"), the hand movements do really add something to the game since you feel more like you're actually properly dancing with your whole body rather than just stepping on arrows. Hardcore Dancing Stage experts needn't worry though: the hand movements and "gimmicks" can be turned off if you want, leaving you with just the basic arrows.
Conveniently, the dance mat plugs into the Wii's GameCube controller ports and any old GameCube mats you may have lying around (such as the one that came with Dancing Stage Mario Mix) are compatible too, which is handy for multiplayer action. Should you not have enough mats though (or are just very, very lazy), the game can also be controlled using a Classic controller or standard GameCube controller. Obviously though, playing it like that is the equivalent of buying a bike and just walking alongside it everywhere instead of riding it: the end result is the same but you're not getting the full benefit of the experience.
Hottest Party is extremely enjoyable and will satisfy both beginners and die-hard Dancing Stage experts. If you want to get your groove on, this is the best way to satisfy your dancing desires.