Time and time again when I come to reviewing musical input games it seems that the only smart console of choice seems to be the Xbox (the 360, One, it doesn’t matter: so long as it is Kinect Compatible), because the Kinect system of input feels the most natural of all the consoles since you can dance freely without holding a controller in your hand. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of a series that best demonstrates the capabilities of the Kinect system is that of Just Dance, an outrageously colourful and hugely mainstream affair that involves dancing the night away in front of the screen not so much for points or any bragging rights but simply because it is fun and makes a change from sitting in front of the computer and doing absolutely nothing.
Though Just Dance 4 is out in full force at the moment, Just Dance 3 is its predecessor that fits snugly into the line of Just Dance games as one that improves on the previous whilst sticking to exactly the same format and outlandishly colourful design. Is a new roster of songs enough to justify this year’s release however?
The short answer to the previous question is yes, purely because this series belongs in the same category of games like Fifa, Pro Evolution Soccer, and Call of Duty where the developers can pretty much rely on being able to get away with doing relatively little with each new title whilst reaping the maximum reward that releasing a new title each year brings. With Fifa you get updated player listings, a host of minor changes, and some new songs over the top whilst with Just Dance 3, you pretty much get a new song roster and some improved features. But this is how these games work and most people accept the incremental changes because they get a consistently entertaining game year after year whose format and general concept they can count on to be familiar and easily picked up. Ubisoft are fully aware of this desire for consistency and the result is pretty much the same every year.
The general idea remains the same, which is to follow the on-screen instructions and dance much like you are told to dance along to a series of tunes both old and new. As hasn’t always been the case with Just Dance, this game isn’t all that strict on the scoring, rewarding you for doing pretty much anything like a sloppy move or even breathing in the right way. If you are expecting tight, well-choreographed dance routines then it might be worth your while looking up other games such as Dance Central or even Michael Jackson: The Experience, but for an overly-rewarding scoring system and fun for just about any level of dancing ability, Just Dance 3 is perfect. There’s always the option of upping the difficulty as well, which definitely adds a little bit to the challenge, but it is still a relatively forgiving experience.
The unbelievably loud neon-coloured visuals remain, as does the cartoon-like visual style of the game, but the main aspect of the game that will be judged by those who buy it is the list of songs available to dance to. Expect classic and then-current hits ranging from Britney Spears to BOB, Daft Punk, Beyonce, Katy Perry, and the Chemical Brothers. The mix of genres is quite impressive but of course the game doesn’t cater for the tastes of hard music fans like techno or metal: for this you are better off sticking with Guitar Hero for the latter and Dj Hero for the former, cutting out the dance moves altogether.
Just Dance 3 is a sort of fluffy, un-losable dance game experience that won’t punish you or make you look foolish in front of your friends if you choose to use the game as a central point of your party. It has been consistently entertaining for years and will continue to be so in the future as well, as long as you don’t expect too many drastic changes from title to title.