October 7, 2011

Dance Like No One is Watching

Lasting First Impressions of Just Dance 3 from Ubisoft

JustDance3 Boxart The original Just Dance game was released solely for the Wii in 2009 but to low critic ratings.  I was working part time at EB Games at that time and I always wondered about the game, and thought it would be something my daughters would enjoy.  Turns out the game was quite a hit with audiences and quickly became Ubisoft’s highest selling Wii title.  Before I knew it, Just Dance 2 was released and it was all my eldest daughter, Eria, could talk about. She spent hours at a friend’s playing the game and they had a blast with it.  The Just Dance franchise seemed to have hit its stride and had a good following of fans.

Today, Ubisoft is following up these popular dancing games with Just Dance 3 and have brought the game not only to the Wii but also to Kinect for Xbox360 and to the PS3 for use with Sony Move.  With the popularity of this title going ahead of it, I was sure I was in for quite a treat and was hopeful for another title that would bring more dancing fun along the lines of the seminal Dance Central from Harmonix.

JustDance3 Screen 2

Jumping right into the game, I went ahead and chose the very first track listed, Apache (Jump On It) by The Sugar Hill Gang.  That was a mistake for me.  This song, unlike the initial songs found in Dance Central, was a non-stop cardiovascular workout which completely drained me and I felt like I had run a marathon. After that I couldn’t do any other songs, nor did I want to.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most fit of people, but this was really difficult for me. The dancing in Just Dance 3 is much different than that found in Dance Central and I really wasn’t expecting it.  There is no training mode found here to learn specific dance moves.  You are simply presented with a dancer on screen, and it is your job to mirror the actions the dancer does.  You are rated based on how well you match the dance moves.  Unfortunately, I had no idea if I was doing something wrong or, if I was (which I’m sure was the case), what I need to do to improve.  After the song is done, a score is calculated and a number of stars are gained.  The problem, as mentioned, is I have no idea how to improve next time because I don’t know what I did wrong.

Since my daughter had played the previous title, I went to her, who was quite excited that Just Dance 3 was in the house, and asked her to give it a try. I knew she would have some good insight into the differences between the two titles. In short, she loved it and continued on through several songs.  Most of the songs found in Just Dance 3 are popular songs, and we had yet to find one we didn’t know.  A few of the ones she tried had more than one dancer on screen which allows for up to 4 players to dance at the same time.  I joined in with her and we were essentially dancing a routine together since each character can and will do different moves.  This particular feature really sets this title apart from other dancing games out there.

JustDance3 Screen 1

Outside the gameplay itself, unfortunately is a bit of a mess when it comes to the menu interface.  We struggled with trying to choose the song to perform next because, with the Kinect controls, moving your hand slightly seems to result in the entire list scrolling way too fast. This really disappointed me, especially since Ubisoft has been known for great Kinect controls, like those found in Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  I would have expected something much more polished than this.

Just Dance 3 this isn’t about actual structured dance moves and is more about just having fun with dancing which is what the kids really like about it.  This is the kind of dancing my daughter and her high school friends would do as opposed to the more defined moves found in Dance Central.

For me, I did not enjoy the game and found it frustrating not really knowing if I was doing anything correctly or not.  The high energy dancing found here is great if you’re looking for a good cardio workout, but this isn’t a fitness title.  My kids, on the other hand, love playing the game.

Ubisoft, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.  The younger audience in my household, however, are definitely IMPRESSED.  Just Dance 3 is about having fun and less about learning to perfect structured dance moves.  For me, it was just too high impact to have fun with as it become more of a sweat fest workout.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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