|System: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Ubisoft Paris|
|Release: October 7, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-720p||Lyrics|
by Sean Engemann
Just two short years ago, Ubisoft gave birth to a simple dancing game called Just Dance. It was so simple, in fact, that it received poor marks and heavy criticism across the journalism board. Despite that, in turned into a retail success, luring throngs of Wii players. We all halfheartedly awaited another technical failure with Just Dance 2, but it surprisingly earned a higher grade thanks to tighter controls and more features. Just Dance 3 expands even more—not just in terms of content, but to more consoles as well. Just Dance 3 is now available for Kinect and Move owners on the Xbox 360 and PS3, respectively.
With a large song selection from the get-go, hopefully you'll find at least a couple that pique your interest. However, in a game that tries to cater to multiple generations, the list could have used some refinement, and a little extra effort may have produced some more universally recognized songs. Of course, the biggest pool is made up of club songs from the last couple years, with artists like LMFAO, Taio Cruz, Cee Lo Green, and Just Dance's unofficial poster girl, Katy Perry, offering their big hits. Player's born before 1990 may find a more limited selection from their era, but a few classics like A-ha's "Take on Me," Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "I'm So Excited" from the Pointer Sisters broaden the scope to the 80s and beyond. Then some real oddballs make it into the game. Trying for a global appeal, you'll find a song called "Kurio Ko Uddah Le Jana," and I can't even fathom what "This Is Halloween" from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is doing here.
Fortunately, more songs will be available, thanks to the reappearance of the in-game Store. Each download will cost a few bucks, and it looks like a new set of four will be available every week. Hopefully, in time, the library will offer a decent variety of genres, but it may cost you a fair penny to customize your personal playlist.
With regards to playlists, Just Dance 3 does a good job sorting genres. When you're ready to dive straight into dancing, you can scroll through each song or let the game's playlist group your favorite style into a mix. There's Pop! Pop!, Rock Party, R&B Vibes, Just 80's, Around the World, and several other choices. You can even choose playlists with extreme difficulty, sweat, or for groups. However, the menus aren't perfectly accessible. I haven't found any rhyme or reason to the song layout in the main screen; it's not alphabetical, nor arranged by release date or difficulty, and with no way to sort them, it becomes a tedious process to make a song selection.
Once you get started, though, you'll find the mirrored neon silhouette onscreen, clad in a variety of clothing and costumes depending on the songs origin and music video influence. Perfecting the routine, or even attaining a passable attempt, requires several repetitions of the song. Ubisoft tried to soften the learning curve by scrolling stick figures of upcoming dance moves at the bottom of the screen, but they only succeed in confusing you more. Depending on how well you move, or, more accurately, how well your Wiimote copies the moves, you'll receive acknowledgments in the forms of "OK," "Good," and "Perfect," or a nasty little "X" if you miss. You'll also build a score meter and obtain stars, which fills your Mojo (more on that later).
Thankfully the motion registry is pretty accurate, and you won't launch the controller at the television out of frustration due to clumsy responsiveness. And the Wii version may be the most forgiving of the three console offerings. The Kinect system will score the entire body's movement as opposed to just the hand motion, making it far more challenging. And since Just Dance 3 does not make use of the WiiMotion Plus, the Sony Move may be more refined, which also means it will more easily register mistakes.
If you're looking to burn some calories, then grab your loose t-shirt, leg warmers, and a bottle of water, because the Just Sweat mode with satiate your aerobic needs. You can do a Free Session or 7-Day Challenge, but each will track your Sweat Points, which you can use as a personal target. The 7-Day Challenge offers three intensity settings, with a daily and weekly Sweat Point goal to reach. It's a decent motivator, especially if you're looking for a reason to play solo.
But like the previous games, Just Dance 3 is best played in the company of good friends with no inhibitions about making fools of themselves. Duets and Quartets are available on certain songs, adding harmonizing moves for some cool group choreography. Of course, any solo track can be played with up to four people, and a few even allow a group of eight to heat up the room, as long as you have ample space to groove.