Just Dance 3 Review
Nintendo WiiAlso available on Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3
Just Dance is a phenomenon. First released in 2009 on Nintendo Wii, it quickly became the biggest selling third-party title on the console. A sequel was inevitable, and when that exceeded the performance of the first everyone knew a third title would be here not long after – and so, just two years after the series’ launch we have Just Dance 3. The initial title was a chance to dance along to some of your favourite tunes as enacted on-screen by a professional but had little in the way of structure or progression. It succeeded because it was released on the family-oriented, casual gaming system and allowed for you and your children, or party guests, to have a dance and a giggle with each other whilst merely holding onto the Wiimote in order to obtain a score and egg each other on. As with any rhythm action title the tracklist is the headliner with which to win sales for the update but it helps to shake up the way you play the game as well. With Just Dance 3 Ubisoft have continued to build on the foundations of previous entries to deliver the most fun and long-lasting experience yet.
The core gameplay on Wii is as you'd expect. Pick a song and try to mirror the on-screen actions. To help you get things right stick-figure images move across the bottom of the screen indicating the upcoming dance moves. Feedback is provided after each piece of the dance in the form of an 'OK' or 'Perfect' and over time as you gain more points for every shape you throw around the dance floor you build up your star rating from zero to five (if any good) or somewhere in-between. Each time you gain a new star you’re notified through the Wiimote by an elicited noise. In addition to solo songs and duets there are now quartet dance routines meaning whatever the scale of your evening - from a Monday night exercise session to the Saturday night girl's night in, you have different ways to play to ensure everyone’s included in the entertainment.
The audience of Just Dance 3 will be largely comprised of females. But any males reading this should give it a try. The duets are fun to play with your wife or girlfriend as you both look and feel really rather silly. You're also playing against each other and building a rivalry between the two of you - you're both being scored on your specific performance and to make sure you know at all times who's winning a crown is placed atop the leader's scoring bar. It's also ripe for chucklesome commentary - at one point the routine we were doing brought up memories of Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air dancing crossed with Trevor and Simon swinging their pants. Entertainment for all the family. Bring kids into the mix and this game will be loved by everyone as long as they have the energy to keep getting their groove on.
Of course, it's best played in short sessions or shared amongst many players allowing for breaks periodically. It's very good exercise if played properly (you can just wiggle your Wiimote holding arm if so desired, but where's the fun in that?) and can tire you out after just a few songs depending on how vigorously the dance is danced. As the scoring is based on your arm / Wiimote mirroring the on-screen image it is quite possible to dance around like a moshing metaller or elegantly twist and turn as if you actually know what you're doing. There's a 'Just Sweat' mode which allows you to earn beads of sweat in an attempt to achieve a daily total on your way to a weekly accumulation equivalent to thirty minutes running or thirty minutes walking (depending on your goal). The soundtrack to your exercise session is chosen according to personal tastes - pop or rock or something less obvious. All you have to do is choose the preferred playlist and the game does the rest. Just Dance 3 is a comprehensive replacement for Wii Fit if desired.
As you play the normal game and collect stars you gain more mojo. After earning a set amount of mojo, gifts are unlocked ranging from new songs to new modes. The variety of modes on offer in the game allows for an extensive experience as you can just dance and the game will automatically move through the songs without any user input, play Simon Says and win or lose points towards your overall score by doing what you're told, or as mentioned before embark on the weekly fitness session. Other modes include smart shuffle where you're tasked with completing challenges and exclusive to the Wii there is an eight player flash mob mode. For added value Ubisoft rewards completion of certain objectives with medals, equivalent to the PS3 / Xbox 360 trophies and achievements. The game's structure ensures long-term gameplay.
None of this will be of any interest to players though unless the available songs are popular, enjoyable and fun. Thankfully Just Dance 3's soundtrack is varied, well-known and tailored for all ages. From Katy Perry and Mika to Queen and A-ha, no-one will have trouble finding something they recognise. Of course the main aim is to appeal to teenage girls, partygoers and the like and in this it doesn't fail. For those less excited by the game and the songs there is still a lot of entertainment to be taken from the primary coloured graphics, the actual dance routines and the fact backgrounds and animations are specific to the actual songs and music videos. It just adds a little to the appeal of the title.
Just Dance 3 is the best in the series yet. An excellent selection of songs hitting all the right notes with the target audience and providing something for all those dragged into play. Different backgrounds to go with each song. Solos, duets, quartets to allow for many numbers of players dancing away together. It all adds up to a varied title, building upon the foundations of the first and success of the second. Different modes of play are present to ensure whatever the occasion everybody's happy. Even a little competition and long-lasting challenges in the form of medals (and scoreboards versus your partners, siblings, parents and friends). If there is even a single person you know that likes to dance, either in your household or likely to visit, you owe it to them and yourself to have Just Dance 3 ready to play. As party games go, in the absence of instruments, there's probably nothing better.
N.B. Although the Xbox 360 version utilises Kinect and the PS3 version employs Move controls, it is not possible to comment on the specifics relating to the control schemes, nor other unique features (e.g. Just Create on Xbox) as this review was based on the Nintendo Wii version of the game.