Just Dance 4
The king of PS3 dance games
It’s been a while since I posted a new PS3 fitness game review. It’s certainly not been for want of trying; I’ve been checking the new game release schedule pretty closely for the past few months, but it seems that there are only two Move games that involve any kind of physical exertion this season. The first is Sports Champions 2, which I’ll be reviewing shortly, and the second is Just Dance 4, which I’ll be reviewing now.
Just Dance 4, of course, started on the Wii and continues to be the most popular dance franchise on that platform. For the Xbox 360, Dance Central 3 reigns supreme. For the Playstation 3, last year Sony released Everybody Dance, which I thought was a pretty good game, if the weakest of the three as a showcase for the platform. The fact that there is no 2012 edition leads me to believe that perhaps sales of Everybody Dance weren’t necessarily phenomenal. It’s clear that PS3 developers are focusing more on hardcore games and less on motion control or fitness games. Still, if you are a household who happens to own a PS3, there is still a lot of good exergaming to be done, and the game we’re going to review today is a shining example.
With Just Dance 4, Ubisoft made the good choice of developing it to be virtually identical between platforms. You can learn the moves on a PS3, take those same moves to a friend’s house with an Xbox, and the kids can use what they learned in gym class on a Wii.
When you start the game you’re asked if you want to create a Uplay account. In all honesty, between my Playstation Account and NIntendo account and my Microsoft account and my gazillion other accounts I wasn’t all that enthusiastic of signing up for yet another one. But since it seems that this will be the main way that Ubisoft allows users to access downloadable content, and there might be some interesting bonus content in the future, I figured I’d go ahead and sign up.
The opening menu of Just Dance 4 should be familiar to everyone by now; it consists of two options: Just Dance and Just Sweat. Selecting menu options is a pleasure on the PS3 with the extra big buttons and the precision of the Playstation Move controller. Reports are that the Xbox version suffers greatly because its menus are almost impossible to navigate using the Kinect.
Selecting “Just Dance” lets you go right away to selecting songs. One unique thing about Just Dance 4 is that depending on the song, you’ll get choreography for one, two, or four players. Four player choreography is especially fun if you’re playing with a group of people; each player gets a different and unique part to dance to, and the results are amazing if all four of you do it well and amazingly hilarious if you don’t (which will be the more common occurrence). Here’s a duet of my wife and me dancing to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (spoiler alert: she wins).
While the PS3 often gets third world status when compared to the popularity of the Wii or the full body motion detection of the Kinect, in this case the PS3 shines in that you get the best of both: because the PS3 Move controller’s motions can be detected both by light trails on the Playstation Eye, as well as through radio signals similar to the traditional Wii controller, players don’t necessarily need to be in camera range to be detected. This means that unlike the Xbox version where four players would have to squeeze to fit inside the camera view of the Kinect camera, on the PS3 version all four players can play, providing all have a PS3 Move controller.
The playlist for Just Dance 4 consists of a surprising number of licensed tracks from some of the hottest pop stars. There’s also a good selection of oldies and songs from multiple genres, so there’s a good chance that everyone in your group playing will find a song that appeals to him or her:
Asereje (The Ketchup Song) – Las Ketchup – Duo – 1 of 3
Beauty and a Beat – Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj – Solo – 3 of 3
Beware Of The Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke) – Panjabi MC – Quartet – 2 of 3
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen – Solo – 1 of 3
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Boys Town Gang – Duo – 1 of 3
Crazy Little Thing – Anja – Solo – 3 of 3
Crucified – Army of Lovers – Quartet – 3 of 3
Disturbia – Rihanna – Solo – 3 of 3
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – Dancing Bros. – Duo – 2 of 3
Good Feeling – Flo Rida – Solo – 2 of 3
Good Girl – Carrie Underwood – Solo – 1 of 3
Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” – Blu Cantrell – Solo – 1 of 3
Hot For Me – A.K.A – Solo – 2 of 3
I Like It – The Blackout Allstars – Duo – 3 of 3
(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – Duet – 3 of 3
Istanbul – They Might Be Giants – Quartet – 1 of 3
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley – Quartet – 1 of 3
Livin’ la Vida Loca” – Ricky Martin – Solo – 3 of 3
Love You Like A Love Song – Selena Gomez and the Scene – Solo – 1 of 3
Make The Party (Don’t Stop) – Bunny Beatz – Solo – 2 of 3
Maneater – Nelly Furtado – Solo – 2 of 3
Mas Que Nada – Sergio Mendes featuring The Black Eyed Peas – Solo – 1 of 3
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera – Solo – 2 of 3
Mr. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stan – Solo – 1 of 3
Oh No! – Marina and The Diamonds – Solo – 3 of 3
On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull – 1 of 3
Oops!… I Did It Again” – The Girly Team – Quartet – 2 of 3
Rock N’Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain) – Skrillex – Solo – 2 of 3
Rock Lobster – The B-52′s – Duo – 2 of 3
Run The Show – Kat DeLuna featuring Busta Rhymes – Duo – 3 of 3
So What – Pink – Solo – 1 of 3
Some Catchin’ Up To Do- Sammy – Solo – 1 of 3
Super Bass – Nicki Minaj – Solo – 3 of 3
Superstition – Stevie Wonder – Solo – 1 of 3
The Final Countdown – Europe – Duo – 3 of 3
Time Warp” – Halloween Thrills – Quartet – 3 of 3
Tribal Dance – 2 Unlimited – Duo – 3 of 3
Umbrella – Rihanna featuring Jay-Z – Solo – 1 of 3
We No Speak Americano – Hit The Electro Beat – Solo – 2 of 3
What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction – Quartet – 1 of 3
Wild Wild West – Will Smith – Quartet – 3 of 3
You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” – Barry White – Quartet – 1 of 3
Gameplay is pretty much the same as always: you dance by mirroring the moves of an on-screen counterpart. The more precise your dance is, the more points and stars you’ll get and the more positive on-screen feedback you’ll get. Pictographs will scroll along the bottom of the screen to cue you on upcoming moves. Unlike the Kinect, the Wii and Ps3 versions of the game only detect your right hand, which is holding the controller. In a sense, you’re on the “honor system” to move the rest of your body the right way, but after a lot of experimentation I found that to get the highest scores it’s a lot easier just to dance the correct moves with your whole body than to try to figure out how to game the system by moving your right hand in the right way.
Something new to Just Dance 4 is “Battle Mode”, where you can play against another player (or against the computer). You start by choosing a character that corresponds to a song. Then, you basically compete in a dance-off. It’s an interesting twist on fighting games like Street Fighter, where the player that dances the most precise dance steps will score “hits” on the other. Whoever has the most life left at the end of a round wins that round and their song will be imposed on the next round.
By most accounts, one of the best features on Just Dance 4 for PS3 is the improved “Just Sweat” mode. This mode lets you play several songs in a row for a set amount of time, either 10 minutes (burning around 50 Kcals), 25 minutes (about 100 Kcals), or 45 minutes (about 200 Kcals). Instead of choosing individual songs to work out to, you choose from the following four genres of music:
- Aerobics in Space (Dynamic Fitness Steps / 80′s Pop Music)
- Sweat Around the World (Latin Dance Practice / World Music)
- Electro Body Combat (Cardio Fighting Exercise / Electro Music)
- Cheerleader’s Boot Camp (Extreme Training / Punk Rock Music)
The routines start out with a slower warm up routine and end with a cool down routine. Your energy level from song to song is tracked in real time through a running graph at the top of the page, and will determine whether the next song is “COOL” or “INTENSE”, effective customizing your workout based on your individual level of energy. That they’re using a little artificial intelligence to give you a personalized workout is a nice improvement that’s definitely more sophisticated than in previous versions of Just Dance. The number of Kcals you burn is displayed in the upper left hand of the screen. Take the calories with a grain of salt, as it’s an average number that’s likely to be understated for heavier players and overstated for lighter players.
Overall, Just Dance 4 is by far the best dance game for the Playstation 3, and among the best fitness games of any kind. Highly recommended.