Review / Just Dance 3 (Wii)

It’s about acceptance, really. It’s near impossible to review games like Just Dance 3 without simply laying down the facts. This is a dedicated hardcore gaming site, the kind that those that play Just Dance 3 won’t likely stumble upon and those that do come here likely don’t have an interest in the game itself.

But when a game like Ubisoft’s latest dance-athon comes along and actually proves to be, y’know, actually pretty good, it throws into question all the snobbery us ‘hardcore types’ would usually throw at a game like this. I like my video games immersive, deep, graphically stunning and usually equipped with enough bullets to bring down a small country. Just Dance 3 obviously isn’t that game, it obviously isn’t a ‘gamer’s game’, and yet the more I think about it, the more I convince myself that it actually really is.

Surely any game that has fun mechanics, enjoyable gameplay, and a clear signs of care taken its development is a gamer’s game. Back when all of this was fields those were pretty much the foundations of the industry; only with the birth of the PlayStation did the rise in importance of storylines and cinematic experiences come around. One could argue that Nintendo have kept these ideals at heart over the years, making the Wii the true home of JD3 despite branching out elsewhere.

And so question my snobbery I did as I ‘boogied on down’ to this latest dance title, because at the end of the day I was having simple, good ol’ fashioned fun – something we might too often forget to include in between all the shooting and stat-raising of modern gaming.

The game simply revolves around players imitating the moves of on-screen dancers (or rather the friendly little matchstick men) with Wii remote in hand. Bright lights and snazzy colours engulf your TV as you shake yourself from side-to-side, which – if not sending you into some sort of fit – creates the kind of atmosphere reminiscent of past Singstar games. It’s a party people kind of game, meaning you’re not likely to be spending hours a day getting in the practise like with Guitar Hero, but it’s instantly accessible to any and all that pick it up in those kind of social gatherings that we all had before Xbox Live was invented.

This sequel is more accommodating, too, as some tracks feature four-person choreographed dances as opposed to the previous games two-person (those these return as well). I can openly admit to not having three other friends that would favour a game of Just Dance over a round on Black Ops, and I’m not about to get my younger sister to call her friends over for a slumber party, so it’s fair to say that I haven’t spent all that much time with the multiplayer modes. After enough hand-pulling/window and door locking I was able to dance along to the ridiculously entertaining This Is Halloween with three other (rather red-faced) friends though, and it was certainly funny.

It’s got the kind of laid-back attitude that encourages party play too as scoring in these dances isn’t all that harsh. Good timing is essential, but Guitar Hero’s damning musical blips aren’t replicated here should you fail. You can get through a dance without too much hassle, which will be key to many consumer’s enjoyment.

The 40 tracks range from Queen to LMFAO with a bit of everything ‘mainstream’ in between. If I’m not playing video games I’m usually off getting beaten up in a mosh pit at a rock gig, and there’s nothing in there that will provide that kind of rock anthem but that’s okay. I don’t think Slayer would really fit in with the rest of these songs, best leave it out. If you’re ‘with it’ though – whatever ‘it’ is – this should prove more than satisfactory.

It’s also the kind of game where complaints – of which there are a few – don’t really matter when you’re in the thick of it. Sure, I could use more songs that support two or four-person dances and the OTT dance presentation definitely grates on me after a while (read: five seconds after putting the disc in), but caught in the middle of Are You Gonna Go My Way and getting a top score, you won’t find me making any real complaints.

And so, oddly enough, there’s me wiggling my behind to Gwen Stefani, thinking about Mario of all people. I’m thinking about the days when I’d sit down and master a great platformer, charmed by its fresh ideas, tight gameplay and bright colours more than any kind of storyline or ‘intense action’. Just Dance 3 reminds me of those days and begs me not to forget them.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s an odd comparison, but I made it all the same. And that’s why this one gets the thumbs up from me.

+ Accessible gameplay that will prove to be a riot with the right crowd
+ Great track selection
+ Multiplayer-specific dances are a blast

– Could use more of those multiplayer dances
– Fairly obviously not for everyone
– Ultra-hyper presentation begins to grate