With a whopping ten dance titles shuffling towards store shelves in time for the holidays, you’d be forgiven for writing off every single one as being just another dancing game. Whilst that’s arguably the case, the Just Dance series hasn’t earned its millions by just being another dancing game.
Unlike Kinect best-seller Dance Central, which pushes for accurate choreographies and score-chasing, Just Dance 3 demands less from your performance in favour of having a good laugh with or without friends. Its success hinges on accessibility: plonk yourself in front of the Kinect sensor and follow the actions and poses that drift across the bottom of the screen as a neon dancer puts your attempts to shame.
How accurately Kinect captures your performance is hard to gauge, and the feedback which pops up in the form of ‘OK’ and ‘Amazing’ phrases are a little vague in their assessment. As long as you’re moving around in front of the camera, throwing shapes back and forth you'll be fine: making a meagre effort will result in a passable score or at least a ‘creative’ or 'energetic’ style rating.
If it wasn’t clear by this point, Just Dance 3 doesn’t have a whole lot to teach you. There’s no discernable career mode, almost every song is available out of the box, and a Coach Me mode that walks players through each routines won’t offer any tips on how to better break into your dancing shoes.
So what can be made of Just Dance 3? It’s silly fun, a guilty pleasure that’s out to be enjoyed by as many people as possible regardless of skill level. The song list packs in 50 hits that covers a broad range in both age and genre, but is consistently cheesy in tone and the best the series has had to offer.
A platter of pop lures include the likes of Britney Spears’ debut Baby One More Time to more recent divas such as Rihanna’s Only Girl and Katy Perry’s California Girls whilst a riff of rock cuts include KISS’ I Was Made For Lovin’ You, Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love and oldies like Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles ensure that no one is left wanting. Even a few curious additions such as Tim Burton flick, The Nightmare Before Christmas’ This is Halloween and a pick from US sitcom How I Met Your Mother’s Canadian pop-sensation, Robin Sparkles, have worked their way in Just Dance 3’s roster.
Every track has been enthusiastically choreographed in Just Dance’s signature style. Brightly coloured, gleaming skinned instructors and dazzling backdrops provide a lively performance that will have you in envy of their flawless rhythm and musicality.
Dance Crew modes provide a whole ensemble of dressed-up performers to follow. Only a portion of the songs on-disc supports four players, a shame as they’re the peak of Just Dance 3’s offerings.
One track will have you rocking out with spotlight moments that allow dancers to unleash their inner rock star with a shredding air-guitar solo or play the wicked witch stirring her pot as pumpkins dance around her. We suspect some smoke and mirrors are in play to convince us that Kinect is actually capable of tracking four flailing bodies, but it's more entertaining than getting your freak on alone.
More confident players who feel comfortable gyrating in their living room are welcome to throw down their own moves and shapes to be recorded, uploaded and shared online with the Just Dance community or among friends. Obviously, these lack the stick figure guides that the professionally choreographed tracks do, but watching as others follow your unpredictable outline always delivers hilarious results.
Despite its lack of a career mode, if the game’s chart records are anything to go by, Just Dance 3 has legs that will stretch well into the New Year and up to until the inevitable release of Just Dance 4 next holiday. Your efforts are rewarded with Mojo points that unlock additional tracks and routines, not to mention those being rolled out as downloadable content over the next 12 months.
Just Dance 3 won’t teach you any moves that you can take to the dance floor with any measure of confidence, but it never professes to do so. What it promises is fun times with friends, and it delivers with every ounce of content. Do as it says on the tin and Just Dance 3 will continue to be a mainstay at office parties and drunken gatherings. Those looking to improve their technique will know where to turn.