The third instalment in Ubisoft's Just Dance series has shuffled onto store shelves, and for the first time ever it's no longer a Wii exclusive. Each console uses a different method of playing the game (i.e. Wii Remote, PlayStation Move, and Kinect), so each version of the game would presumably feel a little bit different from other versions.
The Kinect-compatible version really peaked some interest, because many were curious to see how much effort was put into making the Kinect version feel different than its PS3 and Wii counterparts - as well as stack up against the must have Kinect launch title, Dance Central (and the forthcoming Dance Central 2). Just Dance 3 on Xbox 360 does work quite well indeed, and it will surely be one of the most popular dance games for Kinect (not to mention every other system). That being said, the game isn't perfect, and some dance game enthusiasts may be disappointed by a couple of obvious flaws.
Just Dance 3 doesn't change up the traditional formula of other Kinect dancing games, which may or may not be a bad thing. An extremely energetic, oddly dressed, and sometimes overly-happy dancer appears on-screen while playing, and they will begin to break into spontaneous dance moves. Players will have to perform the same moves, while trying to memorize the pattern in which they appear - and hoping for the best.
A score is given that judges the performance - and awards the dancer with anywhere between one to five stars for their performance. Unlike some dance games (which rely on mere luck), there is room to develop and improve in Just Dance 3. After playing it several times, it becomes easier to master particular dances that may have caused the player to struggle before.
Unlike titles of the same genre, Just Dance 3 on Kinect can track your entire body, but only in the harder difficulties — the easier setting instead focuses on the player's arms. In past installments this meant that players could literally just mimic the motion of the dancer by waving around the remote from the comfort of their couch, but the Kinect edition makes things a bit more challenging.
Players can casually shift from side to side while wiggling their right arm around, but the game will grade the lazy ones poorly and leave them with an incredibly sore right arm. The biggest problem that, occasionally, occurred was that sometimes the game doesn't detect the dance moves with reliable accuracy. A dance move could be totally botched at one point but receive a 'Perfect' score mark, and other times the move would be almost identical to the one being performed on-screen and a big fat 'X' would pop up.
While there are a few issues with Just Dance 3's move detection, these problems can be overlooked once players get into the game's expansive selection of songs. There are nearly 50 songs that gamers-turned-dancers will be able to test-out, and the music variety is robust (there is truly a beat for everyone to enjoy) — although metal heads desperate for a mosh pit simulator will still be out of luck. Everything from Katy Perry's "California Gurls" to Daft Punk's 'Da Funk" to The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" are all available to choose from - and they are all enjoyable to dance to (or attempt to dance to).
Multiplayer is one of the largest selling points for any title, and dance games are certainly no exception. As a result, not only does Just Dance 3 allow a couple of friends to dance the night away, but a whopping four people are able to jump in and play simultaneously. Four friends can get a little hectic, but it's an absolute blast. The big problem is that out of the 46 songs included on-disc only about 10 of them actually feature four player dances, so after four people have danced their way through the ten songs they don't have much else to do. Well, except for maybe one especially entertaining thing...
There is actually an option that allows those playing the game to record their own dances. "Create" mode allows up to four people to pick a song and record an original routine - which can then be uploaded to the Just Dance 3 network or saved onto the home console to replay with friends. This feature is only available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, but there is no denying that it's a great feature for those who actually know how to dance or just want to make an ass out of themselves in the name of fun.
Anyone who doesn't like dancing games won't change their minds after playing Just Dance 3, but the game does offer enough new features to appeal to anyone who enjoys similar titles. All 46 of the songs in the game guarantee that there is at least one or two songs people will find especially inspiring - but the lack of 4-player support for the majority of the song list is disappointing. The Kinect version of Just Dance 3 is also a noticeable upgrade from its Wii Remote waggling predecessors - but the inaccuracy of the motion detection throws can make the game very frustrating at times.
Just Dance 3 is a great title for any gamer who likes to dance or just wants something new to keep friends entertained - but there are several things that keep it from being the best dancing game on the market. If you love dancing games then check it out because you will likely enjoy it - but everyone else who isn't up to the task of seeing if they have moves like Jagger may want to pass.
Just Dance 3 is out now with unique versions for the Kinect, PlayStation Move, and Wii.
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