There are those who can dance, those who think they can dance and those, like me, who know that they shouldn’t go anywhere near a dance floor. Groove is something that I’ve never had, and Just Dance 4 helped to prove that. The brand new dancing game, which is sure to sell like hotcakes, gave me poor ratings despite valiant efforts at performing its on-screen maneuvers. Thankfully the hilariously awful mimicking occurred in a quiet room without an audience, or else I don’t think I’d ever be able to outlive the snickering.
Like its predecessors, Just Dance 4 is an aptly titled game, which doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. It’s exactly as advertised, focusing on little more than music and dance. Of course, it’s been proven that there’s a large audience for this kind of stuff, and Ubisoft certainly hasn’t let them down with this iteration. The experience is ripe with top forty hits and classic anthems, which will appeal to a wide age range, making this sequel an easy sell to the massive, dance-loving portion of our population.
The main menu opens to reveal a short list of game modes, all of which cover pretty much everything you’d want from this kind of title. There’s Just Dance TV, which is a YouTube like hub that allows fans to share footage of themselves dancing with their peers, using video that the Kinect motion sensor records during gameplay. Social media gurus will certainly love the option, as well as the opportunity to share their wacky videos with friends through Facebook. Obviously, this was something that I only participated in as a viewer. Although it’s getting close to Hallowe’en, a time where horror movies reign supreme, I thought that my footage was too frightful for the service.
Next up is a secondary game mode, which mixes dancing with calorie burning, creating a combination that makes exercising fun. Referred to as Just Sweat, it allows users to select from different activity levels, as well as varied time limits. If you’re up for a long session then you’ll want to choose the forty-five or sixty minute-long options. Conversely, those who are lacking a great amount of time can pick from shorter scenarios. The key is simply to dance and have fun, performing shown maneuvers while following the on-screen avatars. It’s simple but effective, and presents varied types of music, all of which offer different musical tempos. As a result of this design, punk music provides the most energetic workout available.
At the centre of Just Dance 4 and its similarly titled main mode are most of the gameplay mechanics mentioned above. All players have to do is pick a song and dance to it, following on-screen indicators and artistically captured dancers as they move to the beat. There’s a learning curve, especially if you’re uncoordinated like myself, but you’ll eventually get the hang of how things work. Until then, low scores will be awarded. However, as you get into the experience more and more, better star ratings should result.
As referenced, this review covers the Xbox 360 version of the game, which is built around the console’s Kinect motion sensor. Although the add-on has had its ups and downs since its retail debut, it works well with Just Dance 4. The movement recognition feels quite accurate, and the sensor’s body detection capabilities are utilized well. In order to earn high star ratings, you’ll need to shuffle, kick and perform all sorts of hand gestures, some of which are slightly hilarious. It’s all in fun, though, with different dance types available for selection. That list includes happy, jazzy, crazy and funky.
The song list offers an eclectic mixture of music, from Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock to Rock N’ Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain) by Skrillex. In-between, the list contains eighties anthems, classic love ballads and quite a few of today’s most popular hits. You’ll find Call Me Maybe, Disturbia, Umbrella, Good Feeling and many more. There’s something for just about everyone, though fans of heavier music will find that they’re not really catered to here. The emphasis is unsurprisingly on club favourites, which makes complete sense.
Thanks to its accessible mechanics and popular tunes, Just Dance 4 is an incredibly replayable game. Fans will be able to get hundreds of hours out of it if they so please, and will appreciate the fact that they can dance with, or against, friends. Several players can dance together to certain songs, and a six round Dance Battle mode is available for those who’d prefer to take the competitive route. The scenario tasks two players with trying to outdo each other through the use of creative choreography.
On the presentation side of things, this experience is very much like its predecessors. Its art design is basic but effective, thanks to the use of filters and animated backgrounds. Each song has its own theme and backdrop, and the on-screen dancers complement both by wearing specialized costumes. It’s all crafted with a tongue-in-cheek type of attitude, which works well with some of the outlandish dance moves that are presented, not to mention the tunes. Of course, what also matters is how the music sounds, and I must say that I was impressed. The clarity is great, and the audio is boisterous.
Those who love to dance will find a lot to like about Just Dance 4. It’s a polished and colourful game, which will appeal to users of all ages. Even though I’m not into dancing much myself, I thoroughly appreciate everything the game tries to do and had some fun with it. Of course, I’m not exactly a part of its target audience, and I’m perfectly fine with that.
This article is based on a copy of the game that we received for review purposes.