Oct 182011

‘Ello, ol’ chap or chapess. Unfortunately, I am unable to discern your gender via the Internet.

Hush now, Inner Aron (also know at Sir Aron, Lord of the House of Deppert). It’s time to get down to business!

As a person who cut their rhythm gaming teeth on titles from the Dance Dance Revolution series, when I first heard about Ubisoft’s dancing game Just Dance, I scoffed. “A dancing game where you don’t have to jump around on a dance mat?” I thought, with my nose upturned and with a very, very fake British accent. What made me scoff even more was the glaring omission of J-Pop jams and the inclusion of mainstream, Western pop music. Little did I know that the older, wiser me who is less prone to think to himself in accents would fire up Just Dance 2 and be completely in love. After playing through just about every included song, and most of the downloadable content, the announcement of Just Dance 3 was exciting to me. Now that I’ve spent some time with it, you get to read about what’s new, what’s to love, and what’s not to love.

Just Dance 3 is a game that is controlled by holding the Wii Remote in your right hand and mirroring dance moves of the dancer the game displays on screen. Scoring works much like a typical rhythm game: each completed move lands you a “OK”, “Good”, or “Perfect” depending on how accurately you execute it. You will get a “Miss” if you’re nowhere close to the right position. Every now and then, you will have an opportunity to unleash your inner, bearded dancing diva and hit a fabulous “Gold Move”, which will rake in quite a few extra points if you successfully perform it. Each correct move will fill up the meter at the top of the screen, which is separated by five stars. The more points you get, the fuller the meter gets, and the more stars you will receive on your overall ranking when the song is over. For the most part, the game’s ability to recognize your position works but there are occasionally moments when you will KNOW you hit the move dead on, but the game fails to recognize it. It is a pretty frustrating downside to the game, but is in no way a deal breaker It is also fairly easy to cheat the game, because it has no way to register your foot work. Don’t feel like spinning around in a circle? Then don’t — the game sure doesn’t care, though if you are playing with a partner they might! It would have been interesting to see how the game played out with the inclusion of Wii MotionPlus((link)) control, but it is understandable and maybe even admirable that Ubisoft wouldn’t want to force its customers to incur extra expense.

Gettin' jiggy with "Barbara Streisand" by Duck Sauce. Click to enlarge.

There are a lot of little tweaks that are sure to make Just Dance veterans extremely happy. There is a lightweight achievement system, which grants you bronze, silver, or gold trophies for accomplishing certain feats and how well you do them. For example, one of the trophies is awarded for completing a duet performance with both dancers getting a three star or higher ranking. Getting trophies can help you unlock additional content like new songs and song “mashups”. These mashups feature a song from Just Dance 3, but with dancers from different songs spanning across the entire game series. Another way to unlock this additional content is by filling up the “Mojo Meter”. The better you do on a song, the more Mojo you will be awarded upon its completion. It’s great to see unlockable content in a game like this, especially in an age where just about everything is sold as DLC instead of being included.

Aside from this main mode of play, there are also a few other ways you can shake your groove thang with this title. There is a “Just Sweat” mode that offers a cardio workout program, with three different challenges spread over five days. You can do the beginner program which is supposed to be the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes a day, intermediate is like jogging for 30 minutes a day, and advanced is like running 30 minutes a day. There are themed set lists available, such as an 80s set list, so you can have music that suits your mood during a workout. If you’re anything like me, your mood is bitter and angry when you are exercising so having a lot of choices is essential! As if all these new goodies weren’t enough, add to that new quartet dances and a “Hold My Hand” mode which lets up to eight players share four Wii remotes, and you’ve got yourself a ton of new ways to get your freak on.

Every day I'm shufflin'...

The signature graphical style of the Just Dance series carries over in its third entry. Colors are bright and eye-catching, and the backgrounds feature rich animation that can, unfortunately, sometimes distract from the dancer’s movements. Dancers are all rendered in full-motion video, and have been overlaid with effects to make them very luminescent and appear to be sort of cartoony. The overall aesthetic is nice, and easy on the eyes. So when you’re only 20 points away from a five-star ranking on “This is Halloween”, and you drop to your knees to slap the hell out of your TV while you scream profanities you will have all kinds of fun and interesting artwork to look at!

Obviously since this is a rhythm game, sound is a crucial component in the design of Just Dance 3. Most of the songs are dance or pop hits that are relatively recent, but you will also be treated to a few more obscure electronic tracks. Alongside these are a few “world music” tracks, a smattering of 80s rock, and even some disco. Really, the only thing that’s missing is a good ol’ fashioned Sousa march! A surprisingly large amount of the songs are actually from the original artist, but you will run across a couple that are covers done by studio musicians. These covers tend to be of very good quality, and you will probably not notice the difference right away. There are four songs available to purchase as DLC, and there will probably be a bunch more released in the future if the online shop of Just Dance 2 is any indication.

Tell your internal, very staunch British voice to shut up and put down its tea and crumpet long enough to help you roll up your prehistoric dance mat so you can give Just Dance 3 a try. You will love it. Bright colors, richly animated backgrounds, and some of todays best pop mega hits will draw you right in to the game’s hokey choreography — so far, in fact, you will be wondering just how many of the game’s moves you can get away with using at a club. A few slight improvements to the motion tracking feature would have made this game a nearly perfect dancing game but it is pretty damned fun in its current state. And don’t worry, you may feel inhibited or shy at first, but the fact that EVERYONE looks like an idiot playing this game should offer some comfort.

Just Dance 3

This game offers fun and addictive dancing game that can be used to burn quite a few calories. Song selection is good with few covers.You will get very frustrated when you know you hit a move, but the game insists you missed it.
VerdictIf you are one of those few and silly' people who let their Wii age disgracefully, it's time to fill up your water bottle, put on your dancin' shoes and blow the dust off your Wii for a great time with Just Dance 3.

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