There seem to be two types of dancing games out there - the trying hard to be cool, ludicrously hard Dance Centrals, and the happy-go-lucky, neon, less judgemental Just Dances. Where Dance Central seems more concerned with teaching you to dance, Just Dance only cares that you have fun. You don't need to be a good dancer with some killer moves under your belt - but if you like to dance, then Just Dance 3 won't disappoint.
Making its debut on the Xbox 360, for those who've picked up Dance Central due to yearning for a dance game, but were maybe a bit disappointed by the limited song selection, the fact its multiplayer mode was limited to two players - and even then you had to take it in turns, or the emphasis on "serious" dance skills, Just Dance 3 provides a much more light-hearted take on the dancing game. Here, the emphasis is firmly on fun - and it's arguably the best use of the Kinect sensor yet. Supporting up to four people playing together, although you'll still need a lot of room (you need to have enough space for four people to stand next to each other, with enough room for arm swinging - we found it struggled when we stood a bit staggered to make up for the lack of room, as we'd do on the Wii), Just Dance 3 brings with it full support for four player multiplayer, letting your entire family join in.
For those of you that have somehow missed the Just Dance phenomenon, the premise here is easy for newcomers to pick up, although obviously with this being on Kinect, things are a little bit different to the Wii games - all you need to do is to stand in front of the Kinect sensor, and copy the moves shown on the screen, earning you points based on how well you perform. Little stick men more across the bottom of the screen to show you what moves you have to do, and every so often a special 'Gold Move' will make it's way along the screen - hitting this will net you some serious point-age. Although this is on Kinect, and you'd therefore expect it to be a lot stricter, Just Dance 3 brings with it a lot of leeway - It's entirely possible to cheat, or do a poor attempt at copying the moves, and you'll be seeing the perfect ratings rack up. Using a different technique to other Kinect games, Just Dance 3 does away with the fancy, infra-red motion tracking that other games do, instead simply using the camera to see what you're doing, and attempting to remove the background from the scene. While for the most part, the motion detection is fine, occasionally you will find that it doesn't think you've done the move right, even though you know you have - we're looking at you Gold Move Number 1 in Taio Cruz's 'Dynamite'...
Just Dance 3 is the sort of game everyone can play - from your six year old cousin, to your eighty year old gran and everyone in between. In fact, it's at it's best when you can get a group of four friends together, all dancing at the same time to the often cheesy choreographies. With a wide range of modes to get everyone involved, Just Dance 3 even features special Duet routines, where two people can do two independent sets of dance moves, which go together, and adds in four-player Dance Crew songs, where each person in your quartet gets a different set of moves. One cool example is in Kiss' 'I Was Made For Lovin' You', the four of your make up the band members - each with their own themed choreography, so you'll be miming out a guitar solo or beating the invisible drums to within an inch of their lives. Other Dance Crew songs make use of a dance technique called 'canon' (if I remember PE lessons at school correctly), whereby dancer number one will do a move, followed by dancer two, then three and then four doing the same move after each other - Taio Cruz's 'Dynamite' is probably the best example, along with the cover of Britney Spears' 'Baby One More Time'.
While the previous Just Dance games were fun little diversions for when you had ten minutes and fancied bouncing around the room to a song you would never choose to listen to under any other circumstances (I'm looking at you Katy Perry), some people may have found the lack of any real progression, bar chasing high scores, to be a bit of a turn off. The lack of longevity in single player has been an oft criticised part of the game, especially for those who just can't convince their friends to join in. To combat this, Ubisoft have packed the game full of Medals, a levelling up system and unlockables galore - once you create your own 'profile' by entering your name, you'll start collecting something called 'Mojo', which, once you reach a certain amount, lets you level up and unlock a new gift, such as new songs, medleys, mash-ups and modes. Reaching Level 1 nets you a 'Simon Says' mode, where you need to copy dance moves as normal until a specific symbol shows up, like 'Clap', where you need to clap in time to the music or 'Stop' where you need to stand perfectly still. Level 2 unlocks a new song in the form of Dr. Creole's 'Baby Zouk', and Level 3 unlocks the 'Party Rock Anthem Dance Mash-Up', to the tune of LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem', and features not just the titular song's choreography, but bits nicked from a multitude of other songs, some even taken from previous games. You'll find yourself jumping from the cowgirl burlesque of 'Giddy On Up (Giddy On Out) to the leotard-clad superhero style of Jamiroquai's 'Cosmic Girl' and then back to the neon rave-ness of LMFAO, with a whole load of others thrown in too.
There's also a total of sixteen medals to collect too, each with bronze, silver and gold levels to them, which are awarded for completing certain objectives in the game - like finishing a song without missing any moves, or just playing ten songs. There's also a medal for getting all seven of the different 'styles' for your dances - which range from 'In Rhythm', to 'Energetic' and 'Creative', which I seem to get quite often, and I guess is just a nicer way of saying "at least you tried"... The medals give you something to keep working towards - and you'll need some serious skills to unlock all of them.
Making it's return again is the 'Just Sweat' workout program, which lets you pick an arbitrary amount of Sweat Points you'd like to achieve per day - the Beginner program is equivalent to walking for thirty minutes, the Intermediate equivalent to jogging for half an hour, and the Advanced is like running for the same length of time. But while Just Dance 2's Just Sweat Mode was limited to the specific section of the game, you'll gain Sweat Points towards your total in whatever mode you're playing in, over the course of the entire day - making it a damn site easier to reach your day's total. If you don't really care what song's you dance around to, or if you're in the mood for some 80s cheese or whatever, Just Dance 3 also has a load of pre-made setlists to pick from - themed around decades, genres and how sweaty you could get.
While the forty plus tracks included on the disc, and all the unlockables, should keep you going for a fair while - especially considering you unlock some more songs as time goes on, Ubisoft are again providing a downloadable store, filled with extra tracks. Letting you download tracks from previous Just Dance games, too, if you've missed out on the first two, this is a great way of expanding your library at a decent price!
In a nutshell, Just Dance is like Dance Central's much friendlier sibling; it's goal has never been realism, nor has it ever been about pinpoint accuracy - its much more about having fun jigging about to the cheesy choreographies, and having a laugh with your friends as you do so. Just Dance 3 is more about dressing up in silly wigs, dancing with smiling ice creams and donning bowler hats and ties - and it's all the better for it.
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360