You can dance!
Party season is coming. As you wander the stores admiring the swiftness with which the Christmas gift sets have appeared on the shelves, hearing over-worked mothers sighing in exasperation and small children gasping in delight, you know that there will come a time, before very long, that you will find yourself at a friends house, generally after a few drinks, shaking your booty whilst holding a WiiMote in your hand. Such is the power of Just Dance.
It has this power over all of us. Most gamers will look down their noses at the Just Dance Wii phenomenon, pointing out quite smugly that the game only follows the movements of your hand and explaining that they could master the game whilst lying down. If they wanted to. Which they don’t. But, after a few drinks and with the right party atmosphere, they will be flailing their arms and legs like a crazed marionette, pouring with sweat as they try to keep up with the moves shown on screen. It really is a thing of beauty.
But let’s not cast the Just Dance games in the wrong light. Sure, they are at their most popular with friends and alcohol, but the Just Dance games also have a massive following amongst the younger generation, thanks to the easy controls, keep fit enthusiasts, thanks to the Just Sweat feature and the amount of energy these games actually require, and people who like to dance, thanks to the … dancing.
But whether you enjoy your Just Dance fun with or without a drink to loosen you up, the recent arrival of Just Dance 4 can mean only one thing – new songs. With more than 40 new songs to get down with, there is something for everyone. Fondly reminisce with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” or shake some long, permed hair to Europe’s “The Final Countdown”. Shuffle slowly from side to side with some Barry White, or get all animated with Skrillex. The tracklist is extensive and all-encompassing, with everything from cheesy pop to full on dance tunes.
The controls haven’t changed for this installment. The game still does a good job of making you feel great even though you can’t dance for toffee. With the colourful neon silhouettes moving around the screen, the player mimics the moves displayed in the bottom corner in time with the music. The performance is then scored, but who really cares when they are having fun.
Players can perform solo or with friends. The four player routines are designed only to cause absolute chaos, in my mind at least. With four players each performing different moves, and with a frequent limitation of space, it is not long before the scene becomes a mass of writhing limbs and laughter. Yet more proof that Just Dance is perfectly suited to the party situation as, whether people dance alone or with their friends, there is just as much fun to be had in watching as joining in.
For the more serious player, or those who fancy themselves as professional dancers after a few drinks, Ubisoft have packed in some suitably testing alternative routines for some of the songs. There are also the new “Dance Quests” set up to challenge the player should they want something to aim for, other than standing up at the end of the song. But it feels that these have been thrown in to convince the players that this is a serious dancing title. We know better. It’s all about the fun.
Unless you have a desire to incorporate dance into your exercise routine, in which case fun may not be the right choice of words. The Just Sweat mode, which does exactly what it says on the tin, is designed to provide a full on work out for the exercise-inclined, with routines that will make you appreciate your sofa. There is even a calorie counter to further encourage movement and activity. It may not replace a good gym workout, or even one of the exercise-specific videogames out there, but I would bet it is much more enjoyable.
Just Dance 4 doesn’t make massive improvements over the last offering, but then you wouldn’t expect it to. Ubisoft have the perfect formula for dance-based party fun and the addition of a new tracklist is really all we need to be convinced. The other small changes and additions are just the cherry on a party-filled cake. If you enjoyed the previous Just Dance games, there are potentially more than 40 reasons to pick up Just Dance 4.