In the few short months since its release date in October, Just Dance 3 has racked up more than seven million sales and came just a few places below games such as Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim as the best selling game of 2011. Aimed towards every member of the family with the songs and routines available, this second sequel in the series has formed a large following. Played individually or with friends, the game boasts enjoyment at any time, but just why is the game so popular?
Just Dance 3 is exactly what it says on the case; a dancing game. Like the rest of the series, the player picks a song that they want to play and then copy the moves shown by the pictograms that slide across the bottom of the screen. To help them along, a professional dancer also joins in with the dance in the middle of the screen dressed in *ahem* creative outfits and blended in with the rest of the games styling. Simple, right? Not really. Often the pictograms are confusing and leave the player unsure of what move they’re supposed to be doing next, ending up in pure embarrassment when your partner/sibling/parent/pet walks in to find you flailing your arms wildly while the dancer does the most simple wave of the arm possible, making you look like an over-excited dog trying to get the bone on top of a counter. If you want to give up on the pictograms and look at the dancer instead, forget about it, because you have to watch them and then copy the move seconds after, the game already thinks that you’re just sitting on your arse and marks you with a large ‘X’ rather than a reasonable score for your large efforts.
The game offers a wide selection of songs to choose from and really does include something for everyone, right from Bollywood, to classics for your mum and the new chart toppers for the younger audience. Within these, there is a further variety of genres such as techno, pop and rock, so no matter who you are, there’s bound to be something to get you bouncing around on your feet. As well as diversity, there’s also far more than a handful, with around 40 tracks, not counting any downloadable content, so it’ll be quite a while before you finally get bored of the game and trade it in, probably just before the next instalment. Cheekily done Ubisoft, very well played indeed.
The main mode is free play mode, where you just grab the controller and start playing. Within this, you can choose speed shuffle, which is a fast-paced, continuous play of the short versions of each song, to give you a taster of what you enjoy and don’t, a handy mode if you’re not sure what some of the songs are. As well as this, you can play the full versions of the songs one after another with the other shuffle mode. Some songs are played as a duet or dance crew, meaning that you can grab a partner or three friends and each get your individual spot in the limelight. Although duets were available in the second game, dance crew is a brand new addition and pushes the experience that one step further, no doubt creating a room full of laughs as you each show your inner performer. Don’t have enough fun-loving friends? Not to worry as you can still take part in these on your own, choosing which crew member you’d like to copy.
If free-play just isn’t enough for you, you can choose to take part in Just Sweat Mode, where you dance to earn sweat points, with a target for each day as well as the end of the week. To keep you going, the game gives you handy comparisons such as ‘you’ve just done the equivalent of walking across Central Park’ which makes your achievement feel so much better and worth all the moisture dripping from the end of your nose. At the end of the week, it also gives an overall comparison, the hardest mode being the same as swimming constantly for 30 minutes a day. The fact that the game is not just a thing to enjoy but also one to help you burn those extra pounds is a large reason why it’s been embraced so hard by the whole world, since it allows you to take exercise in your living room to a whole new level with catchy songs and bar charts to track your progress as you go along.
There are special ‘sweat’ songs with moves designed to make you, well… sweat. You can tell that a lot of thought has been put into the choreography, as there are a variety of moves that take advantage of motion control, making you do both simple, slow moves and faster, more pronounced punches and pounds. Just as you feel the burn of exercise is getting too much, the game will switch from these back to the easier moves to allow you to catch your breath before jumping straight back into the twists and turns. Phew! Tough stuff!
Dance and perform well enough and you unlock new songs and modes such as Simon Says and Mash-ups where lots of dance routines from the whole series are all pushed into one song. When first playing the game, I was sceptical about this idea as the dances are all unique and suited for the song they’re put to, however, it worked quite well and was very enjoyable, if not a little difficult to pick up as the dancers change every few seconds and you suddenly have to change your style. Saying that, it can be picked up very quickly and becomes yet another enjoyable way to play the game. If you have a whole party going, an extra mode of ‘Hold My Hand’ is available, allowing two people to share one Wii remote and dance together, letting eight people play the game at once. Unfortunately, due to the size of most people’s living rooms or bedrooms, this mode is often ignored though it offers great potential in providing a game that can be played by every member of your family at once.
The graphics are bordering on cartoon and can only be described as kooky, which, depending on the song you’re bopping along to, isn’t always a positive aspect. For example, old songs such as ‘Something Stupid’, you’d expect to see a more realistic style and it spoils the immersion of the romantic dance moves somewhat. As well as this, the colours are very loud on most songs and can be quite distracting; ruining your perfect 100% streak and crushing any dreams you had of becoming a backing dancer. This isn’t helped along by the backgrounds which, because of the style and colours, are rather garish and borderline ridiculous, something you’d expect to see Dora the Explorer run into, which may put off many older adults from giving the game a try, though certainly attracts the players that may be too young to grasp the speed and difficulty of half the game.
Forgetting these problems, however, and you have a true masterpiece of a game that bundles both exercise and enjoyment into one small, £35 package that just about anyone can pick up and enjoy. So grab the controller (which may be yourself in the case of the Kinect version) and watch as your room transforms into a nightclub and all eyes are on you.
Just Dance 3 boogies on up to a respectable 7/10.