2011-10-27

Just Dance 3 – Same Game, New System

by Yo Snyder

So with everything coming out this month – Forza 4, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3 – and with the recent release of games like Gears of War 3 and the impending Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, it’s been hard to find time for some of the “smaller” releases. I did give Just Dance 3
for the Xbox 360 a try, but didn’t really have time to play in-depth,
so instead of a full review of the game, here a few quick thoughts and
impressions from it.

The success of the Just Dance series
probably confounds hard-core gamers. It’s so simple, so imprecise, and
so not like a game that it’s hard to understand why so many enjoy it.
Yet, jump into a game session and suddenly it all clicks. This is a game
that’s just about having fun. Get some friends together, crank up the
sound, and just be silly. Sure the controls aren’t all that precise, but
they also aren’t demanding. Just swing the Wiimote around (in previous
versions) in a close approximation to what you’re supposed to be doing
and that’s good enough. There aren’t any in-depth tutorials on what each
step is supposed to be, just follow along as well as you can, let loose
and have some fun. Don’t worry if you don’t quite have the steps down
exactly, that’s not really the point. Just Dance just wants you to get
up and have fun.

Nothing much has changed with Just Dance 3,
aside from the fact that with the Xbox 360 you don’t need to hold a
controller. What’s worked for the series so well on the Wii is ported
over to Kinect and the 360. Is it still fun this way? Yeah, it is. If I
sound a bit unsure about that, it’s mostly due to the fact that the
soundtrack of Just Dance 3 didn’t really impress me much. Sure
the songs are all very dance worthy, but they weren’t quite as catchy or
fun as in past iterations; but that’s merely a personal preference. 

On
a more technical front, many of the other “quirks” have followed the
game onto Kinect as well. I was never really sure what the Wiimote was
measuring when playing, but I at least knew something was being
monitored. My first few dances with Just Dance on Kinect was a
jumbled mess. Which character am I? What exactly is Kinect monitoring?
There are scores happening with hardly any movement at all from me. And
when I do move, it seems fairly random whether or not my movement really
has any effect on the score at all. And why is it registering four
dancers even though there’s only two of us? Oh yeah, that’s one thing
that’s kind of cool. You can have up to four people dancing (don’t know
how Kinect manages that, not very accurately it seems), but it is fun,
if a bit crowded. Still, a nice addition that just adds to the party
atmosphere.

The imprecise, loosey-goosey nature of the Just Dance
series has always been part of it’s charm, and that continues here. It’s
impressive that Kinect can “track” four players at a time, but I rarely
had any feedback that my movements were being tracked all that
precisely no matter how many people were dancing; even when it was just
me. Is Just Dance 3 fun? Yeah, as much as any other version of
it, and the change to Kinect doesn’t make it feel all that different. It
looks the same, it plays the same, it has the same issues, and some
will be just fine with that. However, I should mention that when dancing
with my kids, I was still careful to monitor which songs they did.
There’s nothing really explicit, but some songs are more suggestive or
cover subjects I just don’t want to have my kids have humming around in
their brains. And some dances have some slightly suggestive moves, which
is awkward enough when I’m doing them, but downright uncomfortable as a
father to see your young daughters learning them.