I was prepared to really dislike Just Dance 3. Having glanced at the previous Wii iterations in the series, I was scoffing and dismissing like nobody’s business. If you want a real dance game, I thought, you’d best stick to Dance Central.
Thing is, I can’t say that without a few qualifiers now. Yes, Dance Central remains, in my opinion, easily the best dance game around. But for party-friendly, possibly drunken fun, Just Dance 3 for Kinect can’t be written off. I know - I’m as surprised as you are.
This game is very simple. Choosing a song is quick and easy, and before you know it you’ll be selecting a difficulty level and attempting to imitate the on-screen dancer. That dancer is, weirdly enough, a live-action human being - albeit one who has been put through a ton of digitising filters to look… well, either oddly 80s or oddly zombie-like, depending on the song. They will always dance a perfect dance, and you simply have to mimic them as best you can.
To help you, iconic representations of upcoming moves drift across from the right-hand side of the screen. The first time you play a song, however, you’re probably not going to know what many of the stick figures in these pictures are actually doing — it’s more a case of trial and error and watching the real dancer perform each move. By the end of the song you’ll generally know what to do in, say, a chorus, and will most likely perform things much better the second time around.
The main gameplay element that Dance Central does much better is telling you precisely where your dancing is going wrong. In that game, the actual body part that’s not in the right place is highlighted on the on-screen dancer. Here, it’s all a bit more opaque — you’ll get ratings ranging from terrible to perfect for each move you try to pull off, but it’s less easy to tell exactly where you’re going wrong.
Also worth noting: Just Dance 3 completely and shamelessly ripes off Dance Central’s interface and control mechanics. Hold your right arm to the swipe and move it up and down to scroll through options, and swipe it into your body with a horizontal motion to make a selection. I’d be more annoyed at the wholesale stealing, but it’s a good interface that I think should have wider adoption in Kinect titles, so I can’t really complain.
But these complaints don’t, in the end, really matter. See, what Just Dance 3 gets right is how easy it is to load up, choose a song, and get dancing with multiple players. Up to four of you can dance simultaneously, and the dance moves are just easy enough to follow (and screw up), making it a good game to put on either for groups of kids or very drunk people at a party. Actually, that sums up the two groups who should be playing this game, and Ubisoft knows it — this game knows its potential audiences, and makes it easy just to get to the part where you look silly flailing around your living room.
The track list doesn’t hurt things, either — there’s a mix of new stuff today’s kids are listening to (see how I made myself sound old there?) alongside random selections of older songs like A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. But perhaps most importantly, this game actually has “Let’s Go to the Mall” from How I Met Your Mother. So very random, so very fun.
The track listing is in full below. If you’re after a technically tight dance experience like Dance Central, you won’t find it here. But if you’re after a bit of casual fun with some dance-compatible mates, this one might actually — and I can’t believe I’m typing this — be worth picking up.
1. 2 Unlimited – "No Limit"
2. a-ha – "Take On Me"
3. Anja – "Dance All Nite"
4. Bananarama – "Venus"
5. Black Eyed Peas – "Pump It"
6. Bollywood Rainbow – "Kurio ko uddah le jana"
7. Cee Lo Green – "Forget You"
8. Countdown Mix Masters – "Beautiful Liar"
9. Daft Punk – "Da Funk"
10. Danny Elfman – "This is Halloween"
11. Donna Summer – "I Feel Love"
12. Dr. Creole – "Baby Zouk"
13. Duck Sauce – "Barbra Streisand"
14. Girls Aloud – "Jump (For My Love)"
15. Groove Century - "Boogie Wonderland"
16. Gwen Stefani – "What You Waiting For"
17. Inspector Marceau – "The Master Blaster"
18. Janelle Monae – "Tightrope (Solo Version)"
19. Jessie J featuring B.o.B – "Price Tag"
20. Brahms by Just Dance Classical Orchestra – "Hungarian Dance No. 5"
21. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg – "California Gurls"
22. Kiss – "I Was Made For Lovin' You"
23. Konshens – "Jamaican Dance"
24. African Ladies – "Pata Pata"
25. Latino Sunset – "Mamasita"
26. Laura Bell Bundy – "Giddy On Up (Giddy On Out)"
27. Lena Meyer-Landrut – "Satellite"
28. LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock – "Party Rock Anthem"
29. Madness – "Night Boat To Cairo"
30. MIKA – "Lollipop"
31. Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland – "Promiscuous"
32. Pointer Sisters – "I'm So Excited"
33. Queen – "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
34. Reggaeton Explosion – "Boom"
35. Rita Mitsouko – "Marcia Baila"
36. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman - "Somethin' Stupid"
37. Scissor Sisters – "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'"
38. Sweat Invaders - "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"
39. Taio Cruz – "Dynamite"
40. The Buggles – "Video Killed The Radio Star"
41. The Chemical Brothers – "Hey Boy Hey Girl"
42. The Girly Team – "Baby One More Time"
43. The London Theatre Orchestra & Cast – "Think"
44. The Sugarhill Gang – "Apache (Jump On It)"
45. Tommy Sparks – "She's Got Me Dancing"
46. Wilson Pickett – "Land of 1000 Dances"