Just Dance 3ESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Dance/Interactive, Rhythm
Developed by Ubisoft
Published by Ubisoft
51MB to Save Game
Kinect Sensor Required
The Just Dance franchise has seen some success of the Nintendo Wii, so it comes as no surprise that a sequel has arrived for the Xbox 360 Kinect. Dance Central stands as arguably the best dance game on the Kinect, so in my view Just Dance 3 had a tough act to follow. Well, after some time spent with Just Dance 3, or rather after some time spent taking notes while watching my daughter and her buddy play the game, I am certainly impressed. More importantly the kids had a blast playing it. That being said, Just Dance 3 is a somewhat shallow experience and one best left for those with a hankering for dancing with friends in their gaming room.
Visually, Just Dance 3 is not a bad looking game, but it certainly isn’t a great looking one either. The game has a unique artistic style but it certainly comes across as more of a Wii port than a true Xbox 360 game. Although it does look like a Wii port, Just Dance 3 has a lot going for it. The game is vibrant, colourful, and the dancers’ on-screen moves are incredibly life like. On a more down side, the virtual on-screen dancers lack some detail, and when comparing them to Harmonix’s Dance Central dancers, Just Dance 3 does not quite measure up. Yet, in keeping with the look and feel of previous Just Dance games, Just Dance 3 stays true to the franchise. I was impressed with how smooth all the dancers moved. Being able to follow along with the on-screen characters is critical in a dance game. Every subtle arm and leg movement in Just Dance 3 was easy to pick up and follow. The overall presentation and gameplay design is on par with the previous games, but it certainly won’t knock your socks off.
Just Dance 3’s backdrop and venues were somewhat disappointing, as it does not appear much attention was given to some of this area. I would have like to have seen more variety in terms of backgrounds and more attention to the games setting and environments. On a more positive note, I found the scrolling mini-dancers displayed at the bottom right hand side of your screen, very prominent and nicely placed. I knew well in advance when a new dance move was right around the corner. That is an area Just Dance 3 has Dance Central beat.
In a Dance Rhythm based game the sound is arguably the most important aspect. Fortunately, for the most part, Just Dance 3 delivers in this department. Most, if not all, of the songs are master tracks that give the game instant credibility and authenticity. Nothing grates me more than when I am playing any music or dance based videogame and some cover band is playing my favorite song(s). Sure the music sounds good but it is not the real deal. The songs themselves all sound terrific in 5.1 surround sound. For those of you who are curious as to the songs you get out of the box, here is Just Dance 3’s complete set list:
1. 2 Unlimited – “No Limit”
2. a-ha – “Take On Me”
3. Anja – “Dance All Nite”
4. Bananarama – “Venus”
5. Black Eyed Peas – “Pump It”
6. Bollywood Rainbow – “Kurio ko uddah le jana”
7. Cee Lo Green – “Forget You”
8. Countdown Mix Masters – “Beautiful Liar”
9. Daft Punk – “Da Funk”
10. Danny Elfman – “This is Halloween”
11. Donna Summer – “I Feel Love”
12. Dr. Creole – “Baby Zouk”
13. Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand”
14. Girls Aloud – “Jump (For My Love)”
15. Groove Century - “Boogie Wonderland”
16. Gwen Stefani – “What You Waiting For”
17. Inspector Marceau – “The Master Blaster”
18. Janelle Monae – “Tightrope (Solo Version)”
19. Jessie J featuring B.o.B – “Price Tag”
20. Brahms by Just Dance Classical Orchestra – “Hungarian Dance No. 5”
21. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg – “California Gurls”
22. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
23. Konshens – “Jamaican Dance”
24. African Ladies – “Pata Pata”
25. Latino Sunset – “Mamasita”
26. Laura Bell Bundy – “Giddy On Up (Giddy On Out)”
27. Lena Meyer-Landrut – “Satellite”
28. LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock – “Party Rock Anthem”
29. Madness – “Night Boat To Cairo”
30. MIKA – “Lollipop”
31. Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland – “Promiscuous”
32. Pointer Sisters – “I'm So Excited”
33. Queen – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
34. Reggaeton Explosion – “Boom”
35. Rita Mitsouko – “Marcia Baila”
36. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman - “Somethin' Stupid”
37. Scissor Sisters – “I Don't Feel Like Dancin'”
38. Sweat Invaders - “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
39. Taio Cruz – “Dynamite”
40. The Buggles – “Video Killed The Radio Star”
41. The Chemical Brothers – “Hey Boy Hey Girl”
42. The Girly Team – “Baby One More Time”
43. The London Theatre Orchestra & Cast – “Think”
44. The Sugarhill Gang – “Apache (Jump On It)”
45. Tommy Sparks – “She's Got Me Dancing”
46. Wilson Pickett – “Land of 1000 Dances”
As you can see, it is not a bad set list at all and there is something there for everyone. All the songs get you moving and all are choreographed differently. Also, 46-songs out of the box is not too shabby. Dance Central featured 32-songs, so again Just Dance 3 has Harmonix’s game beat in yet another area. You could still argue 46-songs is not enough when you consider previous music/rhythm based games come with over 80 tracks. Ideally I would have liked to have seen the playlist around 60-songs. That said, 46-songs is a decent amount and a nice launchpad for what will likely be future DLC for the game.
The other in-game sounds such as the background tunes that play when you are in the menus all sound decent. Overall, I have no complaints with the sound aspect of the game as no glaring deficiencies stand out in this area.
For those of you who have no idea how Just Dance 3 works, it is essentially a dance rhythm game that plays out in similar fashion to Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution games. The main difference is Just Dance 3 requires you to use your entire body as opposed to merely frantic foot stepping. Just Dance 3 utilizes the Xbox 360 Kinect motion peripheral to read your full body as you follow the on-screen dancers. Your goal is to mimic the moves of the dancers on the screen. Some of the moves can involve a simple side step or arm wave while others can involve much more complex moves involving upper and lower body motions. The flow of your movements are captured by the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor and compared with those of the on-screen dancers to precisely evaluate your performance. The amount of energy is also be detected and will impact your score. That is Just Dance 3 in a nutshell and at its core it is highly enjoyable game. This being said, it has some issues and I cannot help but feel the game might have benefited from some more time in the shop.
For starters, Just Dance 3 does not feature a single player progression mode. Just Dance 3 is all about jumping into a song alone or with a friend and dancing away. The lack of a single player story progression mode was a bit of let down as this is something music/rhythm fans have become accustomed to. It is certainly not a deal-breaker by any means but I felt this game was more like a SingStar game as opposed to any other type of music/rhythm-based game. Granted a single player progression forces you to trudge through songs you do not particularly care for; however, having songs broken down into tiers and rewarding players with some unlockables for completing certain songs or tiers could have given the game much more replay value.
Once you fire up the game, navigating the menus is very easy and is identical to Dance Central’s menu selecting system. By holding your arm out to the side you can highlight menu items. The height of your hand will determine which item you have highlighted in the menu. Swiping your arm across your body horizontally selects your item. Selecting menu items works quite well and was incredibly responsive. It can be finicky for the little ones with less coordination, but mature folks should have no problem navigating the game's slick menus.
So how do you know how well you are doing? Just Dance 3 features a scoring system much like other dance rhythm games. For every movement, the system evaluates your performance in terms of rhythm and quality of execution. The Score Ball indicates how accurate you are. When the circle displays an ‘X’, you know you have more work to do. When the circle says ‘perfect’ you are nailing the move. At the end every song, you are awarded stars. This system is very much like Guitar Hero. Stars indicate your overall performance during the course of the song. The gauge above your name displays how many stars you have earned. Just Dance 3 features only 2 difficulty modes. Normal difficulty is where the Kinect Sensor tracks your arms, chest, and legs. On the Easy difficulty the Sensor tracks only your arms and chest.
Unlike Dance Central, there is no tutorial mode or mode which ‘breaks down’ the song into areas where you can work on the different areas of the dance routine. So right from the get go, you need to just learn on the fly. Each song has its own dance routine, so replaying songs will be critical in obtaining high scores. I was very surprised with how difficult some of the dance routines were and how much exercise I was getting. Even my daughter and her buddy were huffing and puffing after each song.
Once I jumped into a song and started wiggling away, I was amazed at how responsive the game was to my body motions. Sure, every so often I would feel like I nailed a particular move only for the game to not recognize it, but these instances were not all that common and did not take much away from the experience.
In addition to dancing away to any given song, Just Dance 3 also features a ‘Just Sweat’ mode. This mode acts as an extension to regular dancing mode in which the number of ‘sweat points’ are tracked. I can see this certainly appealing to many more mature gamers out there, including those like myself who need to shed a few pounds.
In terms of any other modes, Just Dance 3 includes ‘Duets’, which is a co-op mode where you and another friend can perform complementary dances at the same time. ‘Dance Crew’ involves up to 4-players playing simultaneously, each following their individual dancer. I should also note that whether you are playing 2-player or 4-player, you need a large dance area, so keep that in mind if you are considering picking up the game for your family to play together. Just Dance 3 also features a ‘Just Create’ mode where you can create and record your own choreography for any song. After you record it, you can play it with your friends.
Online functionality is quite limited, in fact there is no online ability to dance with or against an online friend or stranger from another city. Just Dance 3’s online functionality is limited to posting scores online and there is an online shop where you can download songs. The lack of online modes in the game is quite a letdown.
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