Last year, when I was told that Ubisoft’s number-one selling title was a dancing game, I was shocked. However, after playing Just Dance 3 for the Xbox 360 (using Kinect), it was not hard to see why: the game was (and still is) addictive and entertaining – even one year later. This time around, Just Dance 4 promises to be even more fun with new songs and more features that make it easier to play and share your experience with your friends.
From the get-go, the menu of Just Dance 4 screams “fun” with brightly-coloured visuals and over forty music tracks available to play in a variety of modes. A new interface system (that feels as if its design was inspired by Your Shape 2012) allows you to move around the menu and choose what you would like to do. In keeping with the friendly nature of previous titles in the series, Just Dance 4 is definitely all about positive vibes; from the amusing cartoonish-style of the dancers to their lively animated dance routines, Ubisoft has created an addictive party game that will keep people returning for more.
For those who are unfamiliar with the premise: your goal is to match the on-screen dancers as closely as possible to score points. As points add up, they contribute to your overall star rating – with the highest possible value being five stars. Scoring high in the songs also adds to your Mojo score; the more Mojo you have, the more awards you can unlock (in the form of alternate songs, dancer cards and other modes of play). Solely relying on the on-screen dancers is tough – but not impossible; however, there is also a dance “guide” that shows upcoming moves so you can be ready. It doesn’t take long to pick this game up and play it quite well. Unlike other motion-based games, there is no heavy penalization when you fail to do the routine correctly, which definitely goes a long way toward making this a prime candidate for a party setting videogame choice.
Dance with your friends with up to four different concurrent dance routines!
Whether you are playing by yourself or with some friends, Just Dance 4 can accommodate! Multiple players can dance to the same choreogrpahy – but there are also songs that have four concurrent and unique dance routines! By staggering your positions, you can actually play fairly effectively in a relatively small space! It is important to ensure that the Kinect can see you, though; luckily, this can be checked before the song actually begins (dancers are each assigned an ID based on a “zone” on the dance floor). Two-player battles are also another fun way to play! You and a friend can dance battle each other to a mashup of two different songs; the mode displays a fighting-game-like screen (with victory checkboxes and hit point counters) and reports the winner of each section.
One of the new additions to the Just Dance franchise in this game is the addition of Dance Quest. Basically, each song comes with a series of objectives (examples: five star rating, achieving a “good” rating during a particular part of the lyrics, getting all “gold” moves in a song, etc.). When these challenges are fulfilled, it adds additional points to your Mojo and helps raise your level and get more awards. A lot of these objectives can be achieved with a single play-through of each song; however, it is definitely a great contributor to the replay value of the overall game.
“Just Sweat” makes a return with more relevance. With it’s own section, Just Sweat sports an intensity tracker (based on your movements) and a calorie counter. New fitness routines have been added (cardio boxing, for instance) to allow each person to find a dance routine that works for them. There are three levels of challenge (denoted by different time intervals) allowing you to do a quick ten-minute warmup all the way to a forty-five minute sweat-a-thon. After having tried a few of the songs, I have to say that doing a rotation of these over a week or two (every other day) is a fun way to trim some squidge from your bod.
I’ll definitely call you!
As a social game, Just Dance 4 stretches beyond the boundaries of your living room with “Just Dance TV” (only for the Xbox 360). Basically, while you dance, Just Dance 4 captures various bits of your routine and stitches them together using Autodance to create a short routine for the song that you just danced to. You can choose to save this locally; but if you’re really brave, you can share it with the whole world by uploading to your XBL friends, Just Dance TV, and even Facebook! this section in the menu also allows you to check out your friends’ videos. Another neat feature: the top performer among your friends is listed in the title of each song in the menu, giving you some incentive to get a higher score!
Just Dance 4 has a lot going for it, but I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the minor hiccups. First of all, it can never seem to identify me with Kinect for the purpose of bringing up my profile. I’m not sure why that is, as every other game in my library has no problem identifying me using Kinect. Secondly, the control scheme can be pretty touchy. While navigating around normally is not usually a problem, when my dance partner and I sat down on the sofa to watch Autodance generate a video, a mysterious hand kept rising up and clicking on “back”, causing us to repeatedly start the process over again (odd, considering we both had our hands in our laps). Aside from these, though, everything else works like a dream.
I wish I had an army of dancing freaks like this.
With an impressive track list that has something for everyone, multiple dance modes, alternative routines (some crazy; some including props!), and a focus on social gaming, Just Dance 4 is a fantastic choice for your gaming library. Whether you want to keep fit, compete with your friends, or just have fun, Just Dance 4 will keep you coming back again and again – and it surely will with planned DLC (Gangnam Style, anyone?) to be released soon. The only way this game could be better is if it could access all of the content from the previous Just Dance discs – but that’s just me dreaming again.